Cherie Inn has treated Grand Rapids residents to European-style breakfasts and lunches since 1924, and it shows. The century-old building's original tin ceilings glint above a dining room filled with Stickley furniture, vintage artwork, and mugs of Kona-blend coffee. In the kitchen, chefs greet the day by crafting crab-cake benedicts, cranberry-walnut french toast, or the three pancakes, two eggs, and array of breakfast meats that make up the Lumberperson breakfast, which is served only to customers who can prove their grandmother was deciduous. At lunchtime, Mediterranean-style tuna salad and french-dip sandwiches play a savory prelude for chocolate-chip biscotti, house-made lemon bars, and other light desserts. The menu also caters to vegans and vegetarians with dishes such as vegan sweet-potato hash and a hearty veggie sandwich with herb cream cheese.
Over the searing hot coals of a traditional clay oven, skewered cubes of meat and veggies retain a tender interior while the heat imbues each morsel with a smoky crust. Discs of dough, pressed against the tandoori's walls, bubble and rise, baking into the signature, fluffy Indian bread known as naan. At Taste of India, the family of chefs craft flavorful, aromatic dishes in this traditional fashion, from tandoori-baked shrimp and chicken to fresh-pressed cheeses and crispy pakoras. During lunch, diners can savor a wide range of these recipes at the buffet, which always features at least three chicken dishes, three vegetable dishes, and one garnish dreaming of someday being mistaken for an entree.
Inside Palatte Coffee & Art, baristas ornament drinks with latte art as patrons study the art hanging on the walls or bite into fresh danishes and pastries. In addition to indulgent creations such as a Snickers latte, the cafe serves up apple cider, warm teas, and American cappuccinos.
UICA fills 4,000 square feet of gallery space with innovative exhibitions by contemporary artists, screens films in a 198-seat movie theater, and organizes creative classes for youths and adults. The institute is going into its 35th year of sharing and inspiring innovative, challenging forms of visual arts, and it continues to engage the public with events such as a speaker series.
After serving the community for close to four decades, Charles Davis—the former owner of the Dairy Queen that used to be at 333 Hall Street—knew that the time had come to sell his business. His health was failing and he closed the doors in 2008, but he didn't want to turn over the keys and the legacy he had built to just anyone. Davis told Ursula Zerilli of MLive.com, "I could have sold it many different times to many people but I was looking for a special person who would do the same things I’ve done for 37 years and I found that in Renard." He was referring to local entrepreneur Renard Johnson, who stepped up to the sprinkle-covered plate and reopened the business as Madison Square Dairy Treat. Johnson keeps the spirit of the original establishment alive—he offered kids free cones on opening day, Davis's 71st birthday, in honor of a tradition that Davis himself began. Johnson continues to serve Mr. Davis's signature lemon ice cream, and covers cones in chocolate or butterscotch dip. He and his staff also mix Krush slushes in flavors such as lemon lime, blue raspberry, and cherry for tongues looking to cheer on the Red Wings or those people who harvest cranberries.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Angus beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market. This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun Häagen-Dazs shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded to 160 restaurants in five years, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.