Partners plan urban soul food restaurant


Forty Acres Soul Kitchen will be a 3,500-square-foot restaurant in Grand Rapids' East Hills neighborhood, along Wealthy Street SE. Courtesy Forty Acres

Grand Rapids is getting a little extra soul.

Start Garden Co-director Darel Ross II and local restaurateur Lewis Williams have teamed up to develop Forty Acres Soul Kitchen, at 1059 Wealthy St. SE.

Ross and Williams, who’s the general manager of the LINC Up Soul Food Cafe, will be co-owners of the East Hills restaurant, which is slated to open this fall.

The pair are branding the restaurant as “authentically American” and steeped in the history of black men and women in this country.

The restaurant’s name, Forty Acres, refers to the broken promise of 40 acres and a mule the U.S. government offered to former African-American slaves as a form of reparation following the Civil War.

“Forty Acres will be more than just the restaurant — it will be an unapologetic brand and attitude that represents the rich, oftentimes untold history of black America, beginning with the significance of the name,” Williams said. “We’re looking forward to sharing these stories — along with our Southern soul food dishes — with the Grand Rapids community.”

Additionally, a percentage of the restaurant’s sales will be donated to LINC Up, where Ross was an executive director from 2008 until this past winter.

“Lewis and I both have strong roots at LINC Up, and when we decided to run with this idea, it only seemed natural that we would give back to the organization,” Ross said.

The restaurant will offer full bar service, a vegetarian menu and takeout and catering options.

The pair have partnered with Green Cane Properties development to build out the 3,500-square-foot space.

The partners also plan to seek a B-Corp designation for the business.

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