Essence Restaurant Group announces re-opening of grove restaurant

    GRAND RAPIDS — One of Grand Rapids’ most acclaimed dining destination, grove restaurant, is set to re-open on Feb. 23—just shy of two years after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The reimagined East Hills eatery is located at 919 Cherry Street. It will debut with a refreshed menu, redesigned interior and deeper focus on sustainability while continuing to provide the same culinary creativity and dining experience that it has long been known for.

    The restaurant first opened in 2011 as one of the region’s first “farm-to-table” dining concepts. Quickly, grove became a foodie-favorite for its local sourcing, unique menu items and intimate dining experience. The restaurant, unfortunately, closed on March 16, 2020, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Essence used the space for a temporary chicken carryout concept, Jimmy Berger’s Chicken Shack, but Essence Managing Partner James Berg always knew that the grove concept would reappear. It was just a matter of when.

    “Closing grove was a difficult but necessary decision, but I always knew we’d find a way to bring it back,” said Berg. “We’ve had two years to explore the country’s culinary hot spots and analyze dining trends, so I’m incredibly excited to showcase what we’ve learned with this next chapter of grove.”

    Set to open Wednesday, Feb. 23, grove will be led by General Manager Hillary Edwards and Essence Restaurant Group Executive Chef Jeremy Paquin and his grove chef team Chris North and Devon Cook. Essence Beverage Director Tristan Walczewski—the area’s only Level III Sommelier to serve the public—will oversee the craft cocktail, wine and beer selections alongside Bar Manager Josh Nicholson.

    Aside from a transformed interior space that will offer a modern, open dining room with more natural light and lighter colors, the most notable change to grove will be the menu offerings. While still adhering to its ‘farm-to-table’ philosophy, Executive Chef Paquin notes that his team has crafted a new menu centered around seasonal produce and sustainably raised proteins from local family farms and vendors.

    “Food has a story to tell,” said Executive Chef Jeremy Paquin. “We are going to present food in the most natural way possible, with limited ingredients to maximize the natural flavors.”

    Berg adds that the time he and Paquin spent exploring the country helped him realize that the refreshed grove truly is a natural progression for the brand. Being transparent about sourcing, careful with ingredients and pairing foods that complement each other has always been grove’s philosophy. The new menu builds on that foundation.

    “Having time to assess the future of dining allowed us to venture to places like Chicago and New York to research what the hottest contemporary trends are on the menus,” said Berg. “We learned a lot, but those visits really helped support the approach we’ve taken at grove—and that’s telling the story of the food and inviting the consumer to experience and appreciate the natural flavors. We feel confident that consumers will see our innovative approach as a continuation of what they have experienced.”

    The new beverage and dessert selections will also build on previous offerings, supported by strong leadership. This past October, Essence Beverage Manager Tristan Walczewski achieved the coveted Level III Sommelier designation and fully intends to carry that knowledge into grove’s curated New World wine selection. Walczewski will also lead in the creation of smart cocktails—many of which are low or zero alcohol.

    “We want the drink selections to be as unique and exciting as the food,” said Walczewski, who also serves as General Manager at Essence’s downtown mainstay Bistro Bella Vita. “We have selected wines and spirits that are intentionally paired with the food menu, so every bite and sip can be an experience.”

    As if the dedication to providing unique entrées and drinks isn’t enough, grove has also hired the area’s well-known Pastry Chef, Katy Waltz, to lead the dessert offerings. Waltz has created popular pastries for area establishments MudPenny, Brewery Vivant and Thousand Oaks Golf Club.

    “From start to finish, we have created an intimate dining experience unmatched in the region,” says Berg.

    Grove will have seating for 86. Reservations are recommended.

    To start, grove will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 4 – 9 pm.

    Learn more about grove at