GRAND RAPIDS – Essence Restaurant Group announces that Grove — one of Grand Rapids’ most acclaimed dining institutions — will reopen this fall with a refreshed interior design and new menu that will focus on sustainable dining. The building at 919 Cherry Street in Grand Rapids is currently undergoing renovations while Essence Restaurant Group Executive Chef Jeremy Paquin and his culinary team work on food sourcing and menu selections.
Essence Restaurant Group, owners of The Green Well and Bistro Bella Vita, first opened Grove in 2007 and it quickly became a destination dining experience due to its unique menu offerings, exceptional service and commitment to local sourcing. The restaurant won numerous local and national dining awards and was touted as one of the most innovative eateries in the region.
In March 2020, Grove closed as Essence leaders believed the concept would be difficult to operate due to pandemic restrictions. However, Essence leaders always hoped to revive Grove — it was a matter of when it would open, not if it would open. Even as Essence implemented other concepts in the space, including a pop-up carryout chicken concept and private dining, they were always meant to be temporary.
“Our goal has always been to reopen Grove. We didn’t know how, when or what it would look like, but we knew it was an essential part of our culinary DNA,” said Essence Restaurant Group Managing Partner James Berg. “Grove is a unique concept for West Michigan, so we had to wait until the timing was right to bring it back. The refreshed Grove will build on its first chapter and take dining to a new level with our enhanced focus on sustainable dining. We’re using all our culinary expertise to create a menu based on taste balance with natural ingredients. This is a real challenge but a necessary one to assist and evolve our food systems.”
When it reopens, Grove will offer a modern take on cuisine featuring intentional and transparent food sources. The updated menu will center on clean diet staples such as vegetables, fruits and sustainably raised proteins, and is expected to offer 13 to 15 daily offerings, with seasonality driving the content.
“The new Grove menu will create flavors from the layers of taste,” said Chef Paquin. “Grove will be using plant-based options and local and sustainable proteins.”
Accompanying the menu will be a bar program that will feature cocktails from the same clean diet theme, including low- and zero-based alcohol options in tandem with classic offerings. The wine program will be curated by Level II Sommelier Tristan Walczewski.
“Grove has always been dynamic, moving and elevating the dining experience,” said Walczewski, who serves as Essence’s beverage director and Bistro Bella Vita’s general manager. “With this makeover of the menu and space, patrons will have a completely new experience that still honors Grove’s first chapter. With more natural light, cleaner lines and lighter colors, combined with an intentional focus on sustainable dining options, Grove will once again introduce West Michigan dining to the latest in dining trends.”
As they’re confirmed, additional details will be shared on Grove’s social media sites and website (www.groverestaurant.com). For now, though, Essence celebrates that its highly acclaimed property is coming back online and its “team-first” workplace culture was strengthened during the pandemic.
“As the Covid pandemic took shape, we immediately took a proactive approach on how to navigate a very uncertain future,” Berg added. “We asked ourselves ‘what can we do to grow as people and enhance our culture?’ so our first step was to do what we always do: take care of our team. We feel fortunate to have many dedicated team members who worked through the pandemic, including our entire leadership team. We are incredibly grateful for their hard work and creativity. Our guests are the true benefactors of this passionate team, and we can’t wait to welcome them back to Grove!”