It's been almost two years since Aaron Baker first approached the City of Grand Rapids about opening a sandwich shop on the corner of Lake Michigan Dr. NW and Seward Avenue. Now, after working through rezoning controversies and construction delays, Baker says the shop could be open by July 1.
Grand Slam Subs will feature deli sandwiches, salads and soups, all served in a circa 1880s one-story building that was once two stories tall. The building has housed an upholstery shop, a bar and a manufacturing office. Baker says a fire destroyed the top story many years ago.
"From inside, you can see a perfect skyline of downtown," Baker says. "It's a million dollar view that showcases the Y, GVSU, the Amway Grand Plaza and the J.W. Marriott."
Baker chose a sports theme for Grand Slam Subs because of his intent to highlight local sporting events and the local sports community. Names of sandwiches and other menu items will incorporate baseball terminology, such as, single, double, slider and curve ball.
The building's most recent users, Metrol, configured the interior as an office with an open floor plan, so "the layout was great," Baker says. He removed about five layers of wall coverings, including sheet rock and mortar, to expose the brick walls. The restaurant will have inside and outside seating, plus will offer takeout.
Baker grew up in the Ann Arbor area and moved to Chicago for work. He came to Grand Rapids looking to open a business in a place where "I felt I could flourish and get to know people," Baker says. "And it's been that way. I've gotten to know a lot of people and businesses from the West Fulton business district and from South West Area Neighbors
(SWAN). They see me here working on the building and know my face and it's all good."
Architectural design: Jeffrey Klum
General contractor: Jerry Fishburn
Source: Aaron Baker, Grand Slam Subs
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor