, the latest restaurant venture from Essence Restaurant Group, opened this Tuesday at 5 p.m. in East Hills. Located at 919 Cherry St. SE, Grove joins a number of local neighborhood eateries and bars, such as The Winchester and The Meanwhile Bar, all expressing a commitment to locally sourced foods and beers. This is not a new concept to Essence, who uses this methodology in the menus of both its other restaurants, downtown's Bistro Bella Vita and Grove's across-the-street neighbor, The Green Well.
But Grove is different than those restaurants. With Green Well, Essence Managing Partner James Berg says, it was all about being green, and the LEED certified establishment does well in this mission, option even to turn out the electric lights when sunlight will provide. "With Grove," Berg says, "[it's about] using a local food system approach. Being a restaurant that can survive outside of the food systems we've all come to hate."
A visit to the restaurant's website reveals a list of farms they source from. Creswick Farms, Dancing Goat Creamery and Fortune Fish Company are among them. Grove has made a commitment to featuring sustainably sourced seafood as well as produce and traditional meat options.
Berg points out that Michigan boasts agriculture as a number one industry. So, naturally, we should use it.
"We responsibly source and purposefully prepare every ingredient to demonstrate our commitment to and respect for how our farmers grows their products," Berg says.
And in a state that contains award-winning microbreweries and wineries, why stop with food? Although Grove is somewhat trapped in a prohibition period while awaiting their liquor license, the personnel have decided to take the snag and run with it. Bar Manager Tyler Kershek takes on the mixology approach to bartending and has concocted a number of non-alcoholic beverages including Melon Creamsicles and Watermelon Coolers, as well as the G-8, Grove's own vegetable-based super-drink. Even after the liquor license has been acquired, Grove will continue to feature creative, non-alcoholic beverages. Grove also serves pour-over coffees, espresso and teas.
And the local sourcing really didn't even stop with the consumables. Pioneer Construction acted as building contractor, with Concept Design Group's Steve Fry as architect and Lynn Hollander as Interior Designer. All tables and chairs are from Grand Rapids Chair Company, Waterstreet Coffee Joint provided coffee service, Water Wizards provided the purified/carbonated water system, Decker & Sons Appliances accounted for the televisions, Creative Ice Rentals the ice machine, Green Light Business Technology is responsible for Internet and tech support, Matrix Wine Cellars the wine case and racks, Design Edge was hired for the window signage and The Image Shoppe provided branding, design, website and social media. Even the art has been locally sourced courtesy of LaFontsee Gallery. Our lifestyle editor, Tommy Allen, pointed out one particular piece from local artist Michael Schaeffer that had been in a private collection previously, now available for public viewing for perhaps the first time in a decade.
Seating a mere 65 diners in the restaurant and another 16 at the bar, Grove focuses on three- and four-course meals and reservations are recommended. The experience you take from Grove, of course, is up to you.
Grove Leadership Team pictured from left to right: James Berg, Essence Managing Partner, Drew Archer, Restaurant Manager, and Rob Tamburello, Grove General Manager/Essence Partner
Painting by Michael Schaeffer
J. Bennett Rylah is the Managing Editor of Rapid Growth Media.
Interior Photos by Jeff Hill