Although officially founded in 1930, the Grand Rapids Symphony's history stretches back to 1917 when an enterprising group of local musicians began practicing together and holding regular concerts. In the years since, the ensemble has retained this self-starter mentality while growing into one of the nation's preeminent regional orchestras. Always asserting its idiosyncratic individuality, the organization earned a 2007 Grammy nomination for its collaboration with flamboyant electric harpist Deborah Henson-Conant and the ire of conductors for its rule that all batons should be able to shoot sparks.
At the northwestern tip of the Diag, students, teachers, and hungry pedestrians of all sorts can find Diag Pizza & Subs. Chefs whip up baked classics such as calzones, specialty pizza pies, and bone-in or boneless wings. They also stack up 14 different kinds of subs, including the Cajun turkey with provolone, the steak-and-cheese with Swiss cheese and Italian dressing, and the Italian sub with ham and hard salami.
Lou and Harry's Grill and Bakery combines the ease of fast-service food with comforts of hot, grilled sandwiches and Greek specialties. It's not every grill that has a grilled cheese sandwich on the same menu as shish kebabs and chicken gyros. But hummus baskets, spinach pies, and zucchini fries share menu space with hot subs and burgers, all ordered at the counter for fast service.
Allure Limo Service aims to make everyday clients feel like celebrities, ferrying them to and from events in plush limo buses capable of holding up to 14 people. Inside the roomy ride, passengers can sip BYOB drinks, make use of a wall-mounted TV, or simply laugh maniacally out the windows. Allure's air-conditioned buses suit a variety of special-event needs, such as transportation to proms, bachelorette parties, and birthdays, and the company offers discounts on excursions to its area business partners.
Adventures in Home Brewing's stock can easily transform a home into a mini brewery. It encompasses necessities from beer ingredients, such as hop pellets and yeast nutrients, to kegs, brew pots, and other equipment. The team hosts classes, too, teaching newbies the ins and outs of the beer-making process in three-hour sessions.
As he toiled away on the assembly line at Ford Motor Company, autoworker Karl Kurz dreamed of opening a traditional German tavern like those he remembered from his hometown of Weikersheim, Germany. In 1933, he finally got his chance, working nights and weekends to convert a dilapidated Chinese hand laundry into a tiny bar that he called the Dakota Inn Rathskeller.
Eighty years later, the Rathskeller—now run by Karl's grandson—has expanded from three tiny stools to 2,000 square feet. The eclectic décor pays tribute to Karl's memory: trophy animal heads and RV hood ornaments seized during family hunting trips decorate the walls, and hand-painted murals depict scenes from Karl's life, including a rabbit hunt and a group of friends downing enormous mugs of beer. Through arched porticos, waiters in traditional German-style garb deliver Bavarian bratwurst, pork schnitzel, and German-style potato pancakes known as kartoffelpuffer. At night, the hand-carved walls reverberate with German drinking songs such as the “Schnitzelbank”—or woodworker’s bench—as if in tribute to Karl’s remodeling efforts.