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New “active lifestyle” franchise launches first Michigan location in Grandville with fundraiser

Following its grand opening on June 9, the new CoreLife Eatery is now open for business, the first Michigan location of the growing franchise that brands itself as an “active lifestyle” restaurant.

 

Located at 3158 44th Street, CoreLife Eatery offers a menu dominated by greens, grains, and broth-based dishes, with additional customizable options -- all crafted with ingredients free of trans fats, artificial colors, sweeteners, other additives, and GMOS.

 

“First and foremost, [CoreLife Eatery] is a restaurant that focuses on healthy eating alternatives, but ones that are also quick,” says Stephen Donnelly, spokesperson for CoreLifeEatery. “People always want to eat healthier, but they don’t have easy access to it, or it’s not affordable, or just not quick enough. So what we wanted to do with the creation of CoreLife eatery is to have a brand that would allow people another option for healthy eating that is also quick.”

 

Alongside handcrafted fruit drinks like beet lemonade and tropical green tea, CoreLife Eatery’s menu features “green bowls,” “grain bowls,” and “broth bowls” in pre-made recipes, with a fourth create-your-own option. The chicken and steak used in CoreLife bowls are sustainably raised without hormones or antibiotics, and the restaurant’s bone broth is slow-simmered each day.

 

“People don’t typically get excited about [health food]… so we wanted to make sure we combined a lot of great flavors in our menu,” says Donnelly. “Beyond that, CoreLife Eatery is also really big on making sure people not only eat healthier, but also live healthier.”

 

Prior to its June 9 official grand opening, CoreLife Eatery Grandville hosted a “pay what you want” day, where guests were invited to dine from the new menu for a donation amount of their own choosing. Following the pre-opening event, 100 percent of the proceeds—a total of $7,173 —was donated to Special Olympics of Michigan.

 

Donnelly says that events like this are common practice for the CoreLife Brand, which at each of its new locations makes an effort to partner with local health clubs, fitness groups, and yoga studios for community events and fundraisers that promote healthy lifestyles and economic growth in their communities.

 

“Any new community we go into…we partner with local businesses to put on events not only to encourage people to eat healthier, but also to live healthier, as well,” says Donnelly. “…those events are really important for us, and we do those for every market. One of the things that is important for us is not to just say we want to be involved in the local community, but to actually demonstrate it.”

 

Since launching its flagship location in Syracuse in 2015, CoreLife Eatery has opened nearly a dozen new franchise locations in in New York and Ohio, with a dozen more scheduled to open throughout the year. CoreLife Eatery Grandville marks the opening of the first Michigan location for the franchise—a deliberate move for the growing company based on the results of extensive market research and review.

 

“Anytime we go into an area we really look at what is the makeup of the area is and what the community looks like,” says Donnelly. “We do demographic studies to find out more about the population, what the ages are, what the occupations are, what the makeup of kids versus adults is. From what we analyzed, Grandville, in particular, was a really good area for us to be in.”

 

As one of the cities on the outskirts of the arguably oversaturated downtown Grand Rapids restaurant scene, Donnelly says Grandville presented itself as an opportunity for CoreLife to establish its brand early in a city that is poised for its own growth spurt in the coming years.

 

“From our perspective, we felt like it was a market that was very synergistic with the brand, somewhere that the brand could thrive,” he says. “We’re excited to be in Grandville, the market has really excited us and welcomed us with open arms and so we’re looking forward to being a part of the local community and giving back to it where we can.”

 

For more information on CoreLife Eatery’s menu, active lifestyle concept, or upcoming community events, visit www.eatatcore.com or find CoreLife here on Facebook.

 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of CoreLife Eatery

 

Local First workshop encourages local businesses to establish equitable business practices, invest

About a year ago, employees at the nonprofit organization Local First started setting aside some time out of each staff meeting to be reserved specifically for discussion and debate.

 

Led by a different staff member each time, employees volunteer to bring in an article or video about a wide range of topics that are somehow related to issues or ideas surrounding things like inclusion, diversity, equity, and cultural competency, and then for about 10-15 minutes, they just listen to each other.

 

We discuss those articles and learn from the different perspectives and I think it’s helped us to shift our own perspective,” says Elissa Hillary, president of Local First. “…(We) have more empathy for others and all of the different kinds of experiences people can have.”

 

She says these discussions have changed the way her organization thinks about its own programming, a constant reminder to consider all of the different kinds of perspectives or circumstances that can shape a person’s experience, and to try harder as an organization to be proactive in removing any potential barriers for equal opportunity.

 

“With this most recent street party event, it prompted us to make sure we had barrier-free access for people with wheelchairs or strollers so they could get to the front of the stage to see the show, and make sure all of our signage was bilingual,” says Hillary. “When you have a heightened awareness, all kinds of things can spring from these conversations.”

 

And while honest dialogue is a necessary catalyst for any kind of advancement seeking a more inclusive and equitable culture, so is knowing how to create actionable steps that implement real change. During the most recent installment of the 2017 Measure What Matters workshop series, panelists taught participants how to do just that.

 

Hosted at the offices of LINC Community Revitalization at 1167 Madison Ave. SE, the workshop titled “Implementing Policies Promoting Inclusion and Equity” explored the importance of supporting an inclusive local economy, providing its participants—largely members of local and small business community—with the resources to develop and implement equitable and inclusive practices under their own roofs.

 

During the workshop, a panel of four different diversity and inclusion experts offered insights into creating ethical business practices that promote access and inclusion for people with mental and physical differences. Participants learned not only how to create official value statements and written inclusion policies for their businesses, but also ways to implement company-wide policies and encourage conversations among employees.
 

“Small businesses are uniquely poised to be in contact and in relationships with their communities, and we see that both in the services and things they offer,” says Hillary says. “But that can also be true in the way they hire and recruit employees from the neighborhoods in which they are located and those surrounding neighborhoods.”

 

While having a concrete statement for a businesses inclusion and equity policy can definitely help an organization define itself externally, Hillary says its even more valuable when it comes to internal decision making.

 

“There are a multitude of ways that having a specific [inclusion and equity] statements or policies around diversity, inclusion, and equity can make a difference,” she says. “It can affect the way an organization thinks about hiring, the way an organization thinks about procurement and purchasing, the way an organization thinks about any number of things.”

 

When it comes to what kind of business practices fall under that umbrella of diversity, inclusion, and equity, Hillary says it’s a pretty wide range and oftentimes varies depending on the specific needs of a business’ employees or community.

 

“For example, if your business is hiring for people within walking distance, think about whether or not those people might need access to public transportation, or if they are able to walk or bike to work. Then, as an employer, create policies that can help support that,” she says, adding that another example would be business trying to make a real effort to foster a workplace that is friendly for all types of employees, whether that means creating policies that help support working parents or support diversity and inclusion efforts.

 

“Basically, it’s making an effort to meet people where they are in a really human way to ensure they have a great work experience,” says Hillary. “And in turn, you’ll benefit from having a really talented workforce.”

 

Local First is hosting its next Measure What Matters event at The Greenwell in East Hills on June 26 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The networking mixer will gather community members and decision makers to socialize and discuss ways to use business as a force for good. To learn more about Local First programming and upcoming events, visit Local First's event page or find it here on Facebook.

 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Local First

 

GRPS Launches Rebuild Sigsbee Park Crowdfunding Campaign

At $8,315, the crowdfunding campaign to “Rebuild Grand Rapids’ Sigsbee Playscape” is about halfway to its June 30 matching fund deadline of $29,500 (the first $10k earned will be matched by an anonymous donor)—which, if met, will earn the project an additional $29,500 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative.

Also known as Southwest Academic, the building space next to Sigsbee Park used to be part of the Grand Rapids Public School district and is now home to a number of community programs including the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative for preschoolers and the Spectrum Baby Scholars program. The adjacent playground—or Sigsbee Park—is now what’s classified as a “school park,” making it a community park of choice open to the public and members of the surrounding Eastown neighborhood.

“In the heart of every great community is a place where neighbors gather. Sigsbee Park and Playground is that place,” says Grand Rapids Public School Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal. ”We are eager to partner with the community to realize a shared vision of a bright and appealing new playground for the children, students and families of Eastown Neighborhood to play and thrive."

However, with playground equipment well past its peak beginning to fall into disrepair, plans to remove it are slated for this summer, threatening to leave a partially empty lot in its place and prompting organizations including The Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation, the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative, Carter’s Kids, Lake Michigan Credit Union and Grand Rapids Public Schools to partner with the MEDC to raise funds for its reconstruction.

The refurbished playground will include a new swing set, a play structure with a slide and climbing area, dragonfly and stock cary play pieces, outdoor learning benches, and a new safe, engineered wood fiber surfacing.

“Sigsbee Park and Playground has clearly been loved by Eastown Neighborhood families for many years,” says Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League, one of the organizations behind the Public Spaces Community Places initiative alongside collaborators at the MEDC and Patronicity.

John Helmholdt is spokesperson for the GRPS, and says though some members of the Eastown community have expressed concern over the lack of communication between organizers of the project and community members, it was all a matter of timing, with funding falling into place and the project taking quick steps forward in order to finish construction before the preschool re-opens to students in the fall.

“We’ve been talking about Sigsbee and other parks for quite some time. We got a call from ELNC in the spring saying their federal licensing came in and some of the equipment is out of compliance and it needs to go, so at the point, it began to expedite things and we said, ‘this is happening sooner rather than later, before the summer,’” says Helmholdt, adding that shortly after, LMCU reached out to the organization offering to donate $65,000.

“It all happened very fast and we weren't sure how much money was available or whether we would be eligible for the state matching dollars until literally a few weeks ago,” he says, adding that GRPS has been in contact with the Eastown Community Association and its parks and greening committee more recently on the project, and so far has received their full support.

Right now, Helmholdt says GRPS is fighting a past record of negligence on the property, making some neighbors worry they may lose their voice in the matter as they felt they have in the past. However, he also says this GRPS—the one who met with the ECA’s greening committee, LMCU, ELNC, and the city’s parks department last night to discuss neighborhood engagement opportunities—is a much different GRPS than the community might be used to.

“GRPS sees Sigsbee as truly an opportunity to right some past wrongs and to re-engage with the neighborhood to redevelop this site as a school yard and neighborhood park,” he says. “We have been 100 percent transparent and forthcoming and will continue to do so. We certainly own and recognize how this property has not received the attention it needs nor have we been the best neighbors in the past. But that was then and this is now.”

To stay tuned about upcoming engagement opportunities for Sigsbee’s rebuilding, visit the Eastown Community Association online or here on Facebook. For more information on the project, or to make a donation before the June 30 deadline, visit the Rebuild Grand Rapids Sigsbee Playscape’s project page on Patronicity.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation

Harmony Brewing plans summer 2017 expansion, addition of delivery service to Eastown location

Scheduled to go before the city planning commission later today, owners of Harmony Brewing in Eastown have announced plans to expand their Lake Dr. location with two major goals in mind: the first, to expand indoor space for more carryout capacity and eventually delivery service, and the second, to expand indoor and outdoor seating.

Co-owners Barry Vandyke and Heather VanDyke Titus say that although they lease the current smaller outdoor patio space from the owner of the adjacent Subway building at 1540 Lake Dr., they’re hoping to close a deal on the entire Subway building by mid-June.

“Right now we want to take half of the Subway building and make it into more seating for Harmony, with the other half planned as expanded carry out,” VanDyke Titus says. “Then we hope to add delivery…and eventually expand the outdoor seating, add more of a beer garden.”

 

Though it’s early enough in the process that owners are still running the numbers for renovation expenses against their budgeting for the expansion project, VanDyke Titus says one scenario has them converting the space between the two buildings into a four-seasons room, with another more conservative plan turning the space into a more simple hallway.

 

She says right now the priority is expanding into a second kitchen space to allow for carry-out and delivery services, hoping to tackle the outdoor seating expansion as a sort of second phase. Either way, once they close the deal on the Subway building, she and her co-owner are excited to bring a little more visibility to Harmony Brewing’s Eastown location --  a move that will put them on the corner of a major Eastown intersection.

 

VanDyke Titus adds that there are no major plans to expand Harmony’s menu because rather than overextend, they’d rather keep “what’s working, working.”

 

“One thing we’re excited about is  it will allow us to keep doing what we know we’re doing well, but just have more room to do it in,” she says.

 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Harmony Brewing Eastown

 

New Madcap location opens in attached Fulton Heights roastery space

Hosting its grand opening on June 2, Madcap Coffee celebrated the addition of its third Grand Rapids location, located on Fulton St. in the space attached to its existing roaster location.

Trevor Corlett is CEO of Madcap coffee and says part of his company’s goal is to connect people with luxury coffee in a way that’s engaging and more approachable.

“With our third Grand Rapids location we hope to provide the community with a fresh coffee experience by building off of our original location and maintaining our core values of quality coffee, service, and creative thinking,” he says.

Located in Fulton Heights, the newest Madcap location is housed in a former auto garage that was originally built in the 1930s, lending a unique character to the modern Madcap aesthetic. Corlett says the design team also drew on the craft beer industry in creating the indoor seating space for the new Madcap, which features lots of bar seating for quick drink and snack ordering.

“The new café will function as an extension of our first café in that we continue to stand by our high level of quality and exceptional service that Madcap has become known for,” says Madcap Co-Founder and Director of Coffee, Ryan Knapp.

With on-the-go options for hot coffee, sparkling cascara, nitro-cold coffee, and made-to-order waffles and spreads, the new location will also feature Madcap’s seasonal signature drink menu. For more information, visit Madcap online or find them here on Facebook.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Madcap Coffee Co.


Historic home of Stone House Recording restored with recent renovations and interior upgrades

On the heels of a new partnership that brought together the company’s founder Peter Fox and new co-owner Josh Kaufman earlier this year, Stone House Recording recently wrapped up renovations on the interior of its West Side studio space. They then partnered with local record label dizzybird studios for an afterparty with live music and cocktails by Grey Skies Distillery.  

Located at 731 Front Ave. NW, Stone House Records is housed in the historic Eliphalet H. Turner House, which was originally built in 1846 and still considered to be the oldest building in Grand Rapids still resting on its original foundation.

While the exterior facade of the old building has more or less stood the test of time and survived decades' worth of past tenants and changing tastes, Kaufman says it took a bit of work to catch the interior space up to speed. 

“The stone is beautiful on the outside but on the inside it was covered by plaster and a bunch of drywall, so we took off the drywall and plaster and refinished the stones, cleaning and re-grouting them,” says Kaufman, who joined Stone House Recording founder Peter Fox as new partner and co-owner about a year ago. “So the main project was to expose the original stone, which dates back to the 1800s.”

Because of the building's proximity to a nearby highway, Kaufman added, they also placed extra inset panes of glass over the windows to create better soundproofing without losing access to much-needed natural light. 

“We just decided the control room space just needed to have more comfortable vibes, so we added new flooring, ripped up all of the old carpet, and just made it more comfortable for bands to come in and make music,” Kaufman says. 

For about six years, Stone House Recording was operated as a solo-mission by its original founder Peter Fox, who was the sole engineer and producer until Kaufman signed on as his new partner last year. Specializing in music production and engineering, Stone House additionally offers services in audio for film, TV, and radio as well as voice-over recording. 

“When Peter started the business, he was already kind of a staple of the music scene in Grand Rapids and had done tons of regional and local bands and he had his base gear, so when we partnered up we decided we wanted to try and expand our tool pallet,” says Kaufman, listing new equalizers, compressors, monitors, and microphones alongside the larger purchases, including a 1970s era tech console from Denver and a 1925 Baldwin grand piano among the half dozen of other new instruments and tools made available to visiting artists. 

“They’re tools for the artists who come in to town to feel like they can let go of their inhibitions and go wild when they come into the space,” Kaufman says.

With sights set on continued growth for Stone House Recording, Kaufman says he and Fox would eventually like to expand into multiple studio spaces. With this in mind, the two are right now exploring the possibility of converting the second floor of their building into a few recording booths with a smaller local control room.

And though Kauffman and Fox say they will continue to keep the focus of their studio on recording albums for musicians and bands, they are also looking for creative ways to broaden their reach into new industry areas, hoping to introduce new services like audiobook recordings and some business-to-business options to help bring on more commercial clients. Most recently, they even established an internship program with Hope College. 

“We’re trying to expand our vision from the studio and this year, after the big renovation, is going to be all about that kind of growth,” Kaufman says.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Anthony Narkus 

Apothecary Off Main leaves the downtown MoDiv for a suite in The Morton this June

Currently located at 40 Monroe Center in the downtown Grand Rapids retail incubator MoDiv, boutique general store Apothecary Off Main announced plans this week to relocate to a larger suite in 76 Monroe Center's The Morton,, with its reopening slated for early next month. 

From hand soaps and bath and body items to gourmet kitchen supplies, aromatherapy and candles, and specialized products for men, Apothecary Off Main features a variety of “general store” items handcrafted by new and growing vendors and other local artisans. 

“It has been amazing to be able to be a part of MoDiv, and we could not be more delighted to grow into a new, larger space in the heart of downtown,” says Jill Devan, Apothecary Off Main’s store director. "As our city has grown, we have been able to welcome so many people to our shop. As our client base has increased, we began looking at a larger space that will allow us to continue to grow the number of products we offer.”

While retail incubators like MoDiv offer flexible retail spaces that help new startups and entrepreneurs eliminate some of the risk associated with building a new business or growing a brand, the eventual migration to a more customized, independent space is exactly the point, says Mike Mraz, managing partner of Real Estate at Rockford Construction, which runs MoDiv. 

“Apothecary Off Main joins a growing list of businesses who start in a small suite, and grow into their own retail storefronts,” Mraz says. “MoDiv offers a unique opportunity to lease a space in a great location for as short as one year, providing flexibility and low startup costs to new businesses.”

With its very first location originating in Vista, Cali., Apothecary Off Main’s relocation to The Morton represents both the growth of its own business operations and the larger growth of retail in general throughout downtown Grand Rapids, something Devan and her team credit largely to the culture of the local community. 

“People living in and visiting downtown seek out shopping,” she says. “Offering unique products in a location that is easy to visit is key, and we enjoyed being in a shared space as we established the store.”

And although The Morton might not offer quite as close of quarters as its former shared space at MoDiv, it affords Apothecary Off Main a larger place to grow without sacrificing the sense of community it has come to value.  

“We are looking forward to not only being in a bigger space, but also being in the same building as more than 100 downtown residents,” Devan says.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Rockford Construction Co. 

Coppercraft Distillery in Holland reopens with full service restaurant menu

Re-opening earlier this month in its original space at 184 120th Street in Holland, the new and improved Coppercraft Distillery has expanded its location to include a full restaurant menu, keeping things local and seasonal with the addition of new head chef Kelsey Winter-Troutwine.

 

“We hired a really talented chef out with a really great pedigree out of Chicago,” says Coppercraft general manager Brandon Joldersma. “He developed a love for local seasonal cuisine that you’ve seen pop up in the big cities, but still has a way to go here in West Michigan.”

Winter-Troutwine, who graduated with a bachelor of arts from the Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, spent the past six years in Chicago working alongside high-profile chefs in the city, many alumni of the famed Chicago chef, Charlie Trotter.

 

With a full rotating menu of seasonal New American cuisine, Joldersma says Coppercraft is currently developing a whole new cocktail menu, designed and perfectly tailored to compliment its new food menu.

 

“We like to surprise people by showing how specific cocktails pair well with food,” says Joldersma. “The nice thing with cocktails is that we can very specifically tailor and dial these to the specific menu item itself, you have total control.”

 

Opened by husband and wife team Walter and Kim Catton in 2012 to create “premium, small-batch spirits by hand, using local ingredients,” ownership of Coppercraft Distillery changed hands last year, though Walter has maintained his position as master distiller.

 

“Step one for us was to re-do the consumer-facing end of our distillery here in Holland,” says Joldersma, adding that the new 56-seat dining room was revamped from the old tasting room and barrel storage area, while of the distillery equipment was upgraded to increase capacity. Phase two of the redesign, he says, will be working on building out more storage area for increased production capacity.

 

Coppercraft also opened a new tasting room in Saugatuck last September, offering samples and retail bottles of all of its spirits—vodka, citrus vodka, gin, rum, applejack, bourbon, corn whiskey and rye whiskey—alongside handmade artisan cocktails.

 

“I think (Coppercraft’s new menu) is a little bit challenging, in a good way, for some of the clientele here in Holland and in West Michigan,” Joldersma says. “I think we’re offering the comfortable and familiar things, but also trying to push the envelope for things we can’t always really find here on Lakeshore.”

 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor

Images courtesy of Coppercraft Distillery

The new 250 Monroe Avenue is 'rebirth' for an old downtown space

With its massive interior renovations complete and construction wrapping up on its outdoor facade, the new 250 Monroe Calder Plaza Building connects with the street a lot different from the old site.

“The previous layout of the first floor was very set back from the street with dark tinted glass and [was] very ominous looking, so we opened up the entirety of the lobby,” says Kevin Stower, who alongside colleague Sinsa Simic is lead architect of the project from the Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates (HAA).

The first significant redesign the building has seen in almost 30 years, HAA worked with building owners to gut the 160,000-square-foot building and open up the first and second floors of the lobby. They also relocated the staircase to the south end of the building and added the floor-to-ceiling window on the north and east sides of the building.

Stower says though the renovation started out small, but the task at hand quickly grew as they realized the scope of the redesign.

“Our project scope started out as barely an interior renovation, but in order to facilitate what we had thought of as making a desirable workplace, we thought we had to provide a larger intervention for the building,” he says, referring to the redesign, which also includes a rooftop garden space, HAA’s creative solution to some much-needed green space. 

“City planning really encourages maintaining green space for development projects,” says Stower. “This was an existing building so they strive to maintain at least five percent green space in the existing footprint in the building and there wasn’t that existing so we had to manufacture space into an existing project.”

In accordance with the mandate HAA added streetscape planters in the atrium and transformed the former walk-out plaza space into a walking garden for employees.

“Overall, we were trying to give an old, dingy building a new identity and rebirth,” says Stower.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of CWD Real Estate

Russo's International Market opens second location on W. Fulton

Now in its 112th year as a Grand Rapids family-owned Italian grocer, Russo’s International Market, will open a second downtown location at 241 W. Fulton. 4,500-square-foot store will feature catering, deli, grocery, delivery, curbside pick-up, and bistro on site with an indoor/outdoor bistro to boot.

 

President of Russo’s International Market, Phil Russo, says his grandfather’s mission since opening Russo’s in 1905 has always been to serve the Grand Rapids community, opening up the very first location on Division in what was then known as “Little Italy,” and later expanding into its current 18,000-square-foot location at 2270 29th Street.

 

“We always knew we would return to our roots and this second location will allow us to serve the downtown community as we once did 112 years ago,” says Russo.

 

Both locations offer catering for events and business meetings, custom corporate gifts, alcohol and grocery delivery, European deli, local Michigan and Grand Rapids products, extensive wine and beer selections, in-store educational events, private label Russo brand products, both dine-in and to-go menus, coffee, a espresso and cappuccino bar, and a gelato bar.

 

“The Grand Rapids community has been so devoted to our family-business throughout the years, and our goal is to continue to serve the community to the best of our ability,” says Russo. “We realized the lack of offerings for downtown residents, and this gave us the opportunity to return to downtown Grand Rapids and serve the growing residential population.”

 

For more information, visit Russo’s International Market online here or find them on Facebook.

 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
 

Images courtesy of Russo’s International Market

May Eats: Breakfast & Beyond

May Eats: Breakfast & Beyond

 

From all-American breakfast food and Detroit-Style deep dish to French-inspired crepes that work for breakfast, dessert, or both, these three new kids on the block have menus that promise to soon become old standbys.

 

Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe

Getting its start as a food truck back in 2015, Brown Butter Creperie finally opened up its first brick and mortar shop in an Eastown landmark on Feb. 15, located in the Windmill Building at 1436 Wealthy St. SE (the former site of Cakabakery).

 

Revamped with charming French-inspired indoor and outdoor dining areas, Brown Butter's aesthetic matches its menu, a made-from-scratch roster that includes a ton of sweet and savory crepe styles, caramelized sugar crystal-topped liege waffles, a full espresso bar, and a host of paninis and salads, to boot.

 

With most of its ingredients sourced from local producers, Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe also offers catering services, and you can still catch the original food truck at farmer's markets and events around West Michigan.

 

HOURS

Closed Monday

Tuesday-Thursday: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Friday/Saturday: 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Sunday: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

 

Matchbox Diner & Drinks

Just down the road from Brown Butter at 1345 Lake Drive, the old-school style Matchbox Diner & Drinks is a tasty new option for all-day breakfast lovers and sandwich fans alike, offering thick-stacked deli sandwiches, burgers, milkshakes, and malts.

 

Made with ingredients from a list of local businesses that include Ada Beef, BLiS, The Brinery, Nantucket Baking Company, Simpatico Coffee, Grobbel's, and Gielow Pickles, Inc., Matchbox Diner offers fresh twists on familiar favorites and a dining room with cozy booths and clean bright windows that make it an instant classic.

 

HOURS

Monday–Thursday: 8am–9pm

Friday–Saturday: 7:30am–9pm

Sunday: 7:30am–2pm

 

Good Pizza Company

Though Good Pizza Co. has been testing the waters with new customers for a few weeks now at 10 Jefferson Ave. SE, today marks the official grand opening for the new downtown deep dish pizzeria. Today’s Star Wars themed event introduces the weekly feature pizza—this week's recipe called The Boba Feta for obvious reasons—and kicks off at noon with live music and entertainment that will run through 8 p.m.

 

Bringing a long-awaited deep dish flavor to Grand Rapids downtown pizza game, GCP's sourdough crust is made in-house and its menu offers gluten free and vegan options at no extra cost. Open for lunch and available by the slice, Good Pizza Co. also recently launched a delivery service available after 4 p.m., so you officially have no excuse not to try a pie on for size.

 

HOURS

Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. -10 p.m.

Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Sunday: noon-9 p.m.

 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
 

Images courtesy of Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe, Matchbox Diner & Drinks, Good Pizza Co.

New Intergenerational Care Center offers new kind of care for ‘the oldest and youngest among us’

Announcing its grand opening at the end of last month, Bethlehem Lutheran Church’s new Intergenerational Care Center hopes to offer a creative solution to quality care for both ends of the age demographic spectrum in Grand Rapids’ Heartside.

 

BLC Pastor Jay Schrimpf says that the new Intergenerational Care Center was born out of the desire to build on the church’s existing record of community care and education with its Hill Child Development Center, which was founded back in 1971 and now operates alongside the church’s Heartside Neighborhood Collaboration Project at 250 Commerce Ave.

 

“We decided to build on more than four decades of skills at our HCDC to care for folks on the other side of the spectrum as well,” says Schrimpf. “There’s an aging senior population needing help on a regular basis, and we can do it in a groundbreaking way—at least for this area—through cross-programming between the two.”

 

Schrimpf says a new entity all its own, the BIC now allows the congregation to “care for the youngest and the oldest among us.”

 

After receiving a $50,000 grant from the Downtown Development Authority to rework its second floor space to create a fully ADA compliant senior wing in addition to its existing HCDC, BLC created new programming that allows the two populations to spend time relationship building together in shared spaces.

 

With hours that run 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, both the child and senior care nclude meals and snacks prepared in-house, with a whole host of intergenerational activities that include everything from sharing meals and making music together to giving the elders a chance to take care of the babies and share stories with the little ones.

 

“Especially for our elderly population, it gives them a purpose and the ability to teach and have real relationships and for the children, it’s really the same,” says Sue Davidson, director of the new BIC. “They get to be taught, they get to have real relationships with people who have something to offer. We believe that everyone has skills and talents and gifts and to share them with each other.”

 

To learn more about the new Bethlehem Intergenerational Center or Hill Child Development Center, visit Bethlehem Church online.

 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
 

Images courtesy of Bethlehem Lutheran Church

Blandford Nature Center celebrates Earth Day with grand opening of new visitor venue

When Blandford Nature Center began designing its new 11,000-square-foot visitor center, it intentionally left out the kind of museum-style features often seen in more traditional nature center welcome spaces. Instead, the center wanted the space to serve a more practical role in the organization’s cardinal mission to connect more people with more nature. 

“A building doesn’t make a nature center; the nature does,” says Jason Meyer, President and CEO of Blandford Nature Center (BNC). “We settled on the idea that the the building is just one more tool in our toolbox for getting people to connect with nature, and so we didn’t really want to incorporate dead stuffed animals and a lot of those physical displays that you might see in older nature centers.” 

A crowd of nearly 400 people came out for the Earth Day ribbon cutting ceremony in celebration of the new Mary Jane Dockeray Visitor Center grand opening, hearing remarks from the building’s namesake, BNC Founder Mary Jane Dockeray, as well as Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss.

Costing $3.3 million of the total $10 million in funds currently raised in the final stretches of a larger $10.3 million campaign launched in fall 2014, the new LEED-certified visitor center includes an open interior lobby with a stone fireplace, a large auditorium, an outdoor amphitheater, and an upgraded Wildlife Education Center showcasing decorative wood features made from trees that were already harvested as part of the construction process. 

Initially built in 1968, BNC’s former visitor center was outdated, lacking in handicap accessible design and generally overdue for an update, says Meyer. The organization decided to move forward with a fundraising campaign to afford park upgrades after the center began having to turn away local school groups interesting in doing programming because of insufficient space.

With its fundraising campaign slated to wrap up this summer, Meyer says Blandford Nature Center is looking forward to turning its focus to an even bigger renovation project — restoring the 121-acre Highlands Golf Course at 2175 Leonard St. NW, which BNC purchased back in January in partnership with the Land Conservancy of West Michigan. 

With the Land Conservancy of West Michigan currently heading up some of the initial fundraising, the two organizations are starting to explore how best to transform the new acreage into a public green space that enhances both Blandford’s educational programming and outdoor recreational opportunities, first focusing on restoring the lands natural habitat. 

“A lot of it is habitat restoration. We want to put types of habitat back that are gone from this part of Michigan,” Meyer says, adding that plans include the addition of new trail ways connecting back to the nature center’s existing trail system. 

Meyer says restoring an outdoor recreation space that effectively double Blandford’s outdoor green space, however, requires a bit of al lengthier process than the construction of a new visitor center, relying the slow inedibility of nature to take its course in regrowth. 

“It’s going to be a 50- to 100-year project,” Meyer says, ”And folks will be able to see that change over time that happens with nature reclaiming itself.” 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Blandford Nature Center 

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Wellness spa takes home $20,000 in free rent, business resources as Muskegon's 321 Go! pitch winner

With sights set on bringing new retailers to Muskegon’s growing Midtown business district, Downtown Muskegon Now’s panel of five judges selected East of Eden Wellness Spa as the winner of its 321 Go! pitch competition earlier this month, with spa owner Jodi McClain taking home a prize package worth a combined $20,000. 

Hosted at Grand Valley State University’s Muskegon Innovation Hub, the April 13 event doubled as both a Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce "Business After Hours" event and a final round of the 321 Go! pitch competition spearheaded by Downtown Muskegon Now

“I am excited and humbled to be selected as every one of the other presenters did such a great job. Thanks to all who have taken a chance on me,” says McClain, a veteran massage therapist whose current practice at 3374 Merriam St. offers a variety of spa services, from the more traditional Swedish, deep tissue, and hot stone massages to more specialized services, such as cancer and oncology massages, trigger point therapy, and ionic foot detoxes. 

Pitching an expansion plan that would allow East of Eden Wellness Spa Center to expand its operations into a “destination wellness business,” the revamped East of Eden space will also offer floatation and dry salt therapy along with its existing menu of spa services. 

Citing a passionate and well-researched business plan alongside McClain’s years of experience as part of their decision to select East of Eden’s expansion plans to win the 321 Go! competition, the five-person judging panel also noted a lack of existing spa and wellness service options in Midtown Muskegon, seeing an opportunity to add a unique retailer to the growing corridor. 

As winner of 321 Go!, McClain must be open for business in the new Midtown retail space by June 2017 and will receive six months of free rent at 1144 Third St. courtesy of building owner Brad Martell. After that, McClain will negotiate a one-year lease with Martell, with prize conditions requiring the competition winner to continue operating in the space for at least 18 months after the initial opening. 

The prize package also includes a plethora of free business support services and resources, including everything from legal, accounting, marketing, architectural and design services to commitments by Downtown Muskegon Now, GVSU’s Muskegon Innovation Hub and the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce to promote and mentor the winning business/business owner.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Downtown Muskegon Now

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Waterfront Film Festival plans June 22 grand opening screening for new year-round Holland facility

After spending much of the past year revamping the former auto-body shop on Columbia Avenue near downtown Holland, organizers of the Waterfront Film festival announced the opening of a new, permanent screening and event facility with a year-round indoor-outdoor screening space. 

“We've been looking at expanding to have a permanent year-round event space, so it’s something we’v been working on for a long, long time,” says Hopwood DePree, who co-founded the Waterfront Film festival alongside his sister, Dori DePree. 

With three big rolling garage auto-bays turned theater, the 200-seat venue will also serve as a workshop and education space in the off months, with phase I of the project nearly complete. Plans for phase II include an update to the building’s exterior, and additional landscaping for an outdoor reception area. 

“In the summer months, we’re really offering a unique indoor-outdoor gathering space, and then, when it’s time to play the show, we can shut the doors and put up the black-out curtains and go,” says DePree, adding that one of the big favorite moments Waterfront Film Fest goers talk about each year is the first outdoor screening, something the new space can afford them whether it’s rain or shine. 

“We, as the organizers and volunteers, are always worried about if it's going to rain,” says DePree. “This kind of solves that problem because it’s still an outdoor indoor space, but it’s completely weatherproof.” 

The Waterfront Film Festival has set the date for the grand opening screening at the new facility on June 22, and additional ticket information will be released in May. Until then, visit www.waterfrontfilm.org for more information. 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Dianne Carrol Burdick
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