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Foodies rejoice: Restaurant Week comes to Grand Rapids

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Vegetarian Options

For people who don't eat meat, Restaurant Week Grand Rapids 2010 has vegetarian options. Some vegetarian highlights found while menu surfing include The Heritage at Grand Rapids Community College, which features mock eel and Mongolian tofu. Other options include: Mangiamo with home-made grilled vegetable raviolis and Marco New American Bistro with a pepperade vegetable penne pasta and The Green Well with fall veggie hash.

Fresh red peppers

Fresh red peppers /Richard Deming Photography

Bistro Bella Vita Chef

Bistro Bella Vita Chef /Steven DePolo

Food Before Wine

Food Before Wine /dblstripe

Winter is just around the corner and people who are concerned about putting on a few extra pounds to survive the long, harsh season need not fret. Restaurant Week Grand Rapids 2010 comes to the rescue with 10 days of reasonably priced ($20.10) three-course meals at more than 50 local eateries.

The event runs from November 4 to 13.

Chefs from the participating restaurants have created special fixed price menus for the event. For the most part, a three course meal is a salad or soup (one course), an entree (second course) and dessert (third course). Others might offer an appetizer, salad and entree for the three courses. Some restaurants have several choices for each course and others have limited the choices. Some participants are even offering a four course meal for the $20.10 price. The event website features all participating restaurants and the special Restaurant Week Grand Rapids 2010 menus as well as phone numbers for making reservations, which are recommended.

The behind the scenes work for the event is being handled by Experience Grand Rapids, the entity that works to bring conventions, meetings and travelers to Grand Rapids. Its president Doug Small moved here from Denver and brought the concept with him. Part of the purpose of the event is to help Grand Rapids further establish itself as a destination city.

"In the (convention and meeting) industry there are three things that give a place 'destination appeal' a vibrant arts and culture scene, natural resources or professional sports scene and the third is an active or independent restaurant/dining scene. We all know what ArtPrize has done for Grand Rapids, we knew we had we a great arts and culture scene; ArtPrize helped bring attention to it nationally. The Pure Michigan ad campaign helped bring attention to the natural resources of the area, the only thing missing was promoting fine dining," said Small. "No one was really celebrating restaurants in Grand Rapids,. There isn't a restaurant association here, so Experience Grand Rapids decided to take it on," said Small.

"We want our restaurants to be successful, because the more successful independent restaurants we have the more appealing our destination will be," he said. "Our chances of increasing business potential for the future is very good."

"It also says that Grand Rapids is a place that is willing to try things. There is certainly a lot of local buzz and we want that buzz to spread beyond Kent County," said Small. "It really says that Grand Rapidians are willing to accept new ideas, experiment and support community efforts. This is our first annual event and I hope we're still talking about it ten years from now." Cities including New York City, Boston, San Diego, Chicago and Ann Arbor all have similar events.

Restaurant Week Grand Rapids 2010 will help benefit the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College. Each time a meal is ordered from the special menu, $1 will be donated by the restaurant to a scholarship fund. Small is also counting on restaurant participants to carefully track receipts to compare to the same time period last year. Both the dollar donation and receipts will help measure success. 

Experience Grand Rapids worked with a group of restaurant owners on pricing and other details. Small recommends making reservations for those places that accepts them and to try places you've never been before. Small is planning to make it to five of the 50+ participating restaurants during the 10 day event, while he's not disclosing where he'll be, he admits a passion for locally grown and sourced foods.


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