As a meeting planner, it’s a wonderful thing when your convention center has everything you need for your event – true one-stop shopping.

But sometimes it’s nice to take a meeting off-campus and enjoy the host city. The new environment might spark new ideas.

"Every time I host an event or meeting away from our hub, the energy of the group skyrockets," said Kim Rangel, director of operations for Destination Consultants. "A change of scenery gets attendees out of autopilot mode."

The meeting can also be paired with a subsequent event, like dinner or entertainment. But make sure attendees are fully aware of logistics, Rangel said.

"If you switch gears, your attendees might want to go back to their hotel room to freshen up," she said. "Make sure you are clear in communicating the agenda so they can dress and plan accordingly."

In Grand Rapids, several restaurants and breweries are within a short walk of the downtown convention campus and are equipped to handle a private gathering. We list just a few of them here. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it provides a good place to start.

Atwater Brewery

This Detroit-based brewery offers a semi-private room that can accommodate up to 85 seated. The space also features lots of natural lighting, along with a projector and a big screen.

Bistro Bella Vita

This French and Italian restaurant offers four private rooms for meetings: The Office (accommodating up to 8 guests), the VIP Cellar Table (up to 14 guests), the Private Dining Room (80 seated/110 standing guests) and The Woodrick Room (a multi-level space with room for 20 guests on the upper level and 38 on the lower level).

The B.O.B

This Big Old Building is a 700,000 sq. ft. refurbished warehouse containing multiple rooms that can hold as few as 20 guests individually or up to 2,000 when combined. L3vel, the building’s largest and most versatile special event space, accommodates up to 300 guests for seated events and 350 for strolling receptions. It encompasses the building’s entire third floor and offers easy access to the building’s other occupants – BOB’s Brewery and Beer Garden, Bobarino’s Pizzeria, Eve NightclubH.O.M.E. Entertainment Venue and Dr. Grins Comedy Club. Full-service catering is available.

City Built Brewing

City Built Brewing offers a private space off its main taproom that can serve 35 people seated or 50 standing. It features a 65-inch smart TV for presentations.

The Chop House

This elegant restaurant across the street from the convention center features a variety of private and semi-private options with seating for up to 40 guests. Two of the rooms include large flat screen TVs and the ability to adjust temperature, lighting and music.

Divani

Divani is an elegant cocktail bar and restaurant that offers a variety of meeting spaces, including the bar itself from Sunday-Thursday and prior to 4pm on Fridays and Saturdays. In addition, they offer Gallery Divani (accommodating 100 seated/140 strolling guests), The Photography Room (28 seated/30 strolling guests) and Elevated (14 seated guests).

Meeting space at the Downtown Market

The greenhouse inside of the Grand Rapids Downtown Market is the perfect setting for any event.

Photo by Ashley Wierenga for Experience GR.

Grand Rapids Downtown Market

The Grand Rapids Downtown Market houses 20+ restaurants and artisan food vendors right downstairs from multiple meeting venues. Just take the elevator up to a banquet room that can accommodate up to 250 guests, an indoor/outdoor room (with a view!) that can welcome 60 guests, and a greenhouse with capacity for 80-150 people.

Founders Brewing Co.

Founders Brewing offers the Centennial Room, a private, second-floor space with seating for up to 65 and an additional 45 seats on the patio. The fully staffed private bar has eight taps, including one nitro tap, so you can sample Founders products. The room has two walls of windows offering great views of the city and is equipped with three large flat-screen TVs and a retractable projector screen.

jdek 

Situated off the JW Marriott Grand Rapids' main lobby, the jdek is an outdoor riverfront space that can accommodate up to 200 people for a cocktail hour or other networking event. The jdek offers several large cabanas and room for cocktail tables and food stations, as well as a full bar. Smaller groups in need of indoor space can also book the semi-private space at the hotel's restaurant, Margaux.

Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery

Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery is located in the bustling Bridge Street entertainment district. It offers a private event space that can accommodate about 80 people. Banquet options include a pizza station buffet, and many vegan and vegetarian selections are available.

K-Rock

Rent a private karaoke room at K-ROK to liven up your event.

Photo by Addison Causley for Experience GR

K-ROK

Liven up your event with some interactive entertainment at K-ROK Korean Barbecue & Karaoke. You can rent three private karaoke rooms (each accommodating 10-12 persons) to complement the restaurant’s private dining, partial dining room and full-restaurant buyout options. K-ROK is also happy to provide off-site catering to your event.

The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck

Located in the Amway Grand Plaza, A Curio Collection by Hilton and named after the world-renowned chef, The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck has private meeting space for 10 to 42 guests located in four glass-enclosed rooms below the restaurant. Each room features a 60-inch flat-screen TV and they are connected by a private foyer.

Küsterer Brauhaus

This Bavarian-style beer hall, also on Bridge Street, seats just over 80 guests and will happily accommodate business meetings, luncheons, happy hours, parties and more. Küsterer Brauhaus serves light deli fare but can also cater more substantial meals from its sister location, Cedar Springs Brewing Company. All arrangements are upon request, including private parties.

Leo’s

An upscale seafood restaurant and bar, Leo’s has a private event space offering flexible floor plans that can seat up to 40 guests. The ambiance is stylish and sophisticated.

Luna

The Loft at Luna, a hip, modern Mexican restaurant, accommodates groups of 45-150 people. The rustic yet refined space is lined with brick walls, wood beams and large windows overlooking the city.

Max's South Seas Hideaway

This world-class tiki oasis has private event accommodations available for groups of 15-85 people. Each space includes your own private bar, table/booth seating and the feel of being transported to the South Sea islands.

MDRD

Ranked America’s second best new restaurant of 2021 by USA Today, MDRD (pronounced Madrid) can accommodate 8-200 guests from its glass-lined perch atop the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. From an intimate outdoor balcony to the entirety of the 27th floor, each space offers stunning views and the opportunity to enjoy sumptuous modern Spanish cuisine.

Mertens

Situated in a 1914 building that once served as a luxury hotel, Mertens includes a French-style café, retro-chic brasserie and various event spaces that can accommodate 35-200 guests – including an open-air rooftop lounge that offers spectacular views of the city skyline. You can choose from a wide array of food and drink options for your event.

Friends dining at Monsoon

An authentic Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of Grand Rapids, Monsoon is the perfect host for events.

Photo by Ideology for Experience GR

Monsoon Vietnamese Cuisine

A casual spot featuring fine dining flavors from northern Vietnam, Monsoon is available to host events for a buyout of the entire restaurant. The space can host 20-40 people and minimums must be met.

New Holland Brewery - The Knickerbocker

This award-winning brewpub offers a number of rooms and spaces to accommodate events of 24-250 people – including a loft dining area, cocktail lounge and outdoor beer garden. You can even reserve the entire restaurant to create a completely private experience. A full-service catering department can provide food and drink at The Knickerbocker or anywhere else you decide to meet in town.

One Bourbon

Named one of America’s Best Bourbon Bars by The Bourbon Review, One Bourbon offers two private event spaces on its second floor: The Lounge seats up to 50 for a formal event and up to 75 cocktail style. Connected to the Lounge via old-world barn doors is the Oak Room, a dedicated cocktail & whiskey bar.

Peppino’s Pizzeria & Sports Grille

The Upper Deck loft space at Peppino’s has its own private, full-service bar along with multiple TVs, pool tables, shuffleboard and seating options for guests. It’s ideal for fun, casual gatherings.

Real Seafood Company

The Wine Room and The Mezzanine at Real Seafood Company can seat up to 45 guests in private spaces equipped to handle your audio-visual equipment needs. One room affords a great view of the restaurant’s 1,500-bottle wine storage area, the other has a fireplace and overlooks the main dining room.

Reserve Wine & Food

Reserve, known for its wine and charcuterie, features unique meeting spaces for small or large gatherings. The Vault—a private room that is also the restaurant’s wine cellar—seats up to 12 guests, the semi-private Champagne Room and Lounge seats up to 20 (or 45 strolling), and the semi-private Loft seats up to 34. If your group requires more space, the entire restaurant can be rented to accommodate up to 100 seated/175 strolling guests.

Note: Reserve is temporarily closed, with plans to reopen as a new concept in the late fall.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

The refined yet comfortable private dining rooms at Ruth’s Chris Steak House can accommodate everything from small meetings to large-scale events, with customizable spaces, seating arrangements and menus. State-of-the-art AV equipment is available.

San Chez Bistro

The private meeting space for this tapas restaurant is a loft overlooking the main floor. It has a capacity of up to 65 guests and the tables can be fixed in arrangements that fit your needs.

Uccello's Ristorante

This Italian restaurant operates an adjoining event space, The Atrium, set in the soaring, four-story interior courtyard of the city’s second oldest building. The Atrium can comfortably seat up to 150 guests and accommodate up to 200 for roaming receptions.