Grand Rapids Business Journal’s top stories of 2020

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There’s no doubt 2020 was a difficult year. Every industry was impacted in some fashion with the entertainment and food service industries undoubtedly impacted the most.

Despite the pandemic, Grand Rapids saw its fair share of new restaurants and franchises — a teenager opening a cereal and breakfast bar was 2020’s most-read story. Unfortunately, it also forced several restaurants and small businesses to close for good.

Here are the top 10 most-read stories of 2020.

Teen opening cereal and breakfast bar in Eastown

By Rachel Watson

Taylor Kyle Courtesy Fla!r Studio

A local teen is opening a new hot spot for cereal and breakfast lovers.

Taylor Kyle, 17, plans to open Eastown Cereal Café, at 1505 Wealthy St. SE, at the end of November, according to Colliers International West Michigan, which represented both the landlord and the tenant in the transaction for the 1,000-square-foot space.

Kyle said she wanted to bring a new kind of café to Grand Rapids in an area surrounded by other local small businesses. Eastown Cereal Café will offer a variety of cereal, milk and various other breakfast options like oatmeal, muffins, coffee and juice, and it will allow customers to customize their orders with various types of milk and varieties of cereal.

Popeyes opening two new West Michigan locations

By Rachel Watson

Franchisee Anthony Basile will open a pair of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen locations at 5448 S. Division Ave. SE in Kentwood and 2446 28th St. SE in Grand Rapids this summer. Photo by iStock

Two more locations of a restaurant chain known for serving “spicy New Orleans-style chicken” are coming to the area.

Franchisee Anthony Basile will open a pair of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen locations at 5448 S. Division Ave. SE in Kentwood and 2446 28th St. SE in Grand Rapids this summer, according to Colliers of West Michigan.

“We look forward to opening these two restaurants as we continue to develop the Popeyes brand in West Michigan,” Basile said. “We’re proud to offer delicious food and great service to our customers in a family-friendly environment.”

Marcona on Lyon closes permanently

By Rachel Watson

Matt Overdevest the restaurant located at 623 Lyon St. NE in Grand Rapids will not reopen when the stay-at-home order lifts at the end of the month. Courtesy Facebook.com

The co-owner and chef of a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant that opened in Midtown in late 2018 said he and his business partner are permanently closing the restaurant.

Matt Overdevest, chef and co-founder with Kameel Chamelly of Marcona on Lyon, said Friday that the restaurant located at 623 Lyon St. NE in Grand Rapids will not reopen when the stay-at-home order lifts at the end of the month.

“The current and short-term business environment is not healthy for our small restaurant to continue,” Overdevest said in a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “We have had a clear-eyed look at the big picture moving forward, and it is not sustainable for our business model.”

Business Journal selects 50 Most Influential Women

By Tim Gortsema

From a record 248 applicants, the Grand Rapids Business Journal selected the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan for 2020.

The biennial event celebrates West Michigan women who are making a difference in the community in a variety of ways. They will be honored at a luncheon on March 4 at the JW Marriott International Ballroom. Tickets to the luncheon are available here.

The 248 completed applications, all of which were reviewed by the Journal’s editorial staff, represented an increase of 93 from the previous cycle two years ago. The 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan event alternates annually with the Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business event.

Social Kitchen owners close Downtown Market location

By Rachel Watson

Grand Rapids Downtown Market Courtesy GR Auto Gallery

A metro Detroit-based company closed its 4-year-old restaurant and bar location inside the Grand Rapids Downtown Market.

Bloomfield Hills-based Peas & Carrots Hospitality made the decision to permanently close Social Kitchen & Bar last month after about a year of conversations with the Downtown Market team about its desire to focus on growing its restaurants on the east side of Michigan, according to Downtown Market President and CEO Mimi Fritz in an email to the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

Fritz said after these talks, the company owned by Zach Sklar decided not to renew Social Kitchen’s lease in the market, which expires Aug. 31.

Grand Rapids rates among best places to live in US

By Ehren Wynder

Photo by iStock

Grand Rapids was named one of the top 100 best places to live in 2020.

Livability.com ranked Grand Rapids No. 21 in its 2020 Top 100 Best Places to Live list. The 2020 rankings were guided by each city’s “opportunity score,” which consists of several variables centered around the economy, job opportunities and growth.

Grand Rapids received a composite score of 677, based on a demographics score of 69, an economy score of 60, a health score of 56, a housing score of 52, an infrastructure score of 58, an education score of 65 and a civics score of 27.

J.C. Penney closing 242 stores in wake of COVID-19

By Ehren Wynder

Photo by iStock

J.C. Penney plans to close hundreds of its stores in 2020 as part of its bankruptcy.

According to a report from the Detroit Free Press, J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy earlier in May. The retailer recently announced 29%, or 242 of its 846 stores, will close between the current fiscal year and next fiscal year.

At press time, the company still is early in the process and doesn’t currently have a list of the stores impacted by the restructuring.

Southern restaurant chain opening in downtown Grand Rapids

By Rachel Watson

Honey-dusted friend chicken Courtesy Tupelo Honey Cafe

Tupelo Honey Café, a Southern restaurant and bar chain, is opening its first Great Lakes region location in downtown Grand Rapids and looking to fill 80 jobs.

Asheville, North Carolina-based Tupelo Honey Café will open at 140 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, in a 5,050-square-foot space on the first floor of Hyatt Place hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, in late September.

The restaurant will serve responsibly sourced, scratch-made Southern fare using seasonal ingredients, including its best-sellers honey-dusted fried chicken, Tupelo shrimp and grits, and the sweet and spicy chicken sandwich.

Perrigo moving its North American HQ downtown

By Rachel Watson

Perrigo Company will establish its new North American corporate headquarters in downtown Grand Rapids, at 430 Monroe Ave. NW on the north side of Michigan State University’s Grand Rapids Innovation Park. Rendering courtesy Perrigo

Perrigo is investing $44.7 million to move its North American corporate headquarters to Medical Mile in downtown Grand Rapids in a move that will create 170 jobs.

The Right Place, in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan State University, Rockford Construction and the city of Grand Rapids, on Tuesday announced the Dublin-based pharmaceutical manufacturer Perrigo Company will establish its new North American corporate headquarters in downtown Grand Rapids, at 430 Monroe Ave. NW on the north side of Michigan State University’s Grand Rapids Innovation Park.

In addition to a capital investment of $44,782,094 over the 15 years of the lease offset by $3.7 million in state incentives and other collaborator commitments, the expansion will bring more than 170 new jobs to the area, Perrigo said.

City of Walker approves plans for Chick-fil-A

By Rachel Watson

Photo by iStock

Chick-fil-A has received approval to proceed with plans for a new restaurant in the Westown at Wilson development in Walker.

The city of Walker approved the final area site plan for a Chick-fil-A location at 320 Wilson Ave. NW at the city planning commission meeting on Sept. 2, according to the Walker Community Development Department on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

The plans were submitted by Cheryl Scales, principal, ProgressiveAE, on behalf of Todd Grasman, of Westown Commercial LLC, and Justin Lurk, principal development leader at Chick-fil-A corporate.

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