From malt extract to fermenters and cappers, the art of home brewing involves lots of ingredients and tools to wrap one's head around. That's why Ben, Nick, and Andrew, the three resident experts at O'Connor's Home Brew Supply, offer their expertise to customers crafting their first batches. The trio happily walks beginners through every step of the process and even hosts a seminar that reviews the fundamentals of home brewing. O'Connor's stock of starter beer- and winemaking kits likewise caters to first-timers. Once they're ready to graduate to more advanced equipment, brewers can browse O'Connor's extensive selection of products, which ranges from yeast and hops to bottling equipment and corks.
At The Local Epicurean, owner Ryan Raredon, who has been profiled in the Grand Rapids Press, began pasta making as a hobby, before success at selling his noodles and seasonings in farmers’ markets inspired him to open his own store, where a panoply of handmade herb-infused sundries now resides. From pasta-making, Ryan has now expanded his store to include a Chocolate Lounge filled with delectable selections of cocoa-based confections. The store's newest space boasts a full chocolate menu with a wide selection of organic coffee and tea. Guests can opt for the Lounge's signature "Cha-Co-Lot" drink, delicately crafted and served in an antique silver coffee pot, a slice of triple chocolate cheesecake, or head to the paring stand to sample hand-made chocolates, dipped berries, cheeses, and breads. Patrons can satisfy their sweet-tooth cravings at The Chocolate Lounge seven days a week.
Named one of 60 Restaurants Worth the Trip by Midwest Living magazine, GoJo Ethiopian Cuisine introduces guests to the traditional, community-focused dining style of Ethiopia. Using injera, a soft sourdough flatbread, diners scoop up bites of robustly flavored stew, or watt, from a bed of the same flatbread. Tibs watt, a dish made of sautéed tender beef and spices, and doro watt, a spiced chicken stew, satisfy carnivores, and lentils, collard greens, and green beans take the lead in the vegetarian dishes. The lamb sampler, GoJo's No. 1 seller, consists of well-spiced lamb and smaller sides of spiced beans and other vegetarian dishes.
If the weight loss of the company's owner and a trainer—75 pounds and 100 pounds, respectively—is any indication, Grand Rapids Boot Camp and Fitness means business. The outdoor classes are tailored for all fitness levels, so beginners and seasoned athletes will both feel the burn as the perform weight exercises, resistance workouts, and functional movements.
The candy kitchen's massive copper kettle predating World War II is certainly an eye catcher, but the nostalgic sights and smells of candy filling rows of white shelves is what overwhelms most people when they step inside Kilwins. For more than two generations, the original recipes of founders Don and Katy Kilwin have been used to handcraft more than 75 confections such as chocolates, caramels, and specialty fudge. Aside from some newer equipment, head candy cook Bill Hoffman and his team still abide by Don’s candy-making methods and use original equipment when possible. Inside the old-fashioned candy shop, a burnished copper-kettle-fire mixer fashions each piece of peanut brittle, a cold room solidifies almond-toffee crunch, and a manatee that swallowed a freezer still makes every sea-foam candy. In addition to candy, Kilwins has created more than 32 flavors of original-recipe ice cream since 1985 with farm-fresh rBHT-free milk and cream from Michigan farms.
Michigan Brewers Guild founding member and B.O.B.'s Brewery brewmaster John Svoboda has a passion for crafting batches of flavorful Michigan-made beer. At the brewpub, friendly servers dole out frosty drafts of specialty beers such as Robert the Barrel bourbon-barrel ale, Wit Rabbit Belgian wit, or the Full On IPA. Guests pair their mugs of ale with hearty gourmet pub fare such as smoked pork shoulder, Angus-beef hot dogs, and ale-battered onion rings, garnished with housemade mustards and hot sauces.