Neighborhood tiki bar opens doors


Citizen tiki bar is located in Grand Rapids' Cheshire Village neighborhood. Courtesy Citizen

A new tiki bar restaurant has opened in a Grand Rapids neighborhood.

Owner Rachel Lee held a soft opening last week for Citizen in the Cheshire Village business district, at 2115 Plainfield Ave. NE.

“We selected the Cheshire Village district for our establishment due to there not being a full-service restaurant in this area,” Lee said.

“It’s hard to express in words just how happy I am by the response from the neighborhood. The other night, so many of the tables were (filled with) people that had walked there. (I’ve) lived in this neighborhood 30 years, and there hadn’t been a place to walk to. We really wanted to create a community place, and it’s exciting to see the response.”

Lee hired Tyler Kershek, formerly a cocktail mixologist from Kalamazoo, as general manager, and Eric Benedict as head chef. Citizen has 26 employees.

The restaurant will serve Hawaiian and Polynesian fusion-style food with Indonesian influences. Initial food and drink menus are posted online. Lee said a finalized menu will launch in the coming weeks.

For the past 30 years, the building in which Citizen is located housed Grand Rapids Karate Academy, which has closed.

The building has been renovated, including the interior, and a garage door façade was added.

“Our interior design reflects a vibrant, modern tiki bar with a tropical Pacific Rim theme,” Lee said. “We have two murals, one large one outside of lotus flowers and one interior one of tropical plants. Mark Rumsey, an international (and) local artist, designed the exterior mural. “

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