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.
The jdek at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids.
Photo by Brian Kelly Photography
Situated off the JW Marriott Grand Rapids' main lobby, the jdek is an outdoor 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, six.one.six.
Bistro Bella Vita
This French and Italian restaurant features a private dining room toward the rear of the restaurant with seating for up to 80. In addition, they offer their VIP Cellar Table in a private corner of the restaurant accommodating up to 14 people.
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.
San Chez Bistro
The private meeting space for this tapas restaurant is adjacent to the main dining room, offering the same view of downtown through its spacious windows. It accommodates up to 85. Open the doors up to the atrium and capacity rises to 125.
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 is an elegant cocktail bar and restaurant with dark wood furnishings that offers a variety of meeting spaces, including the bar itself during daytime hours. In addition, they offer Gallery Divani with seating up to 100. Divani also offers the more intimate Photography Room (up to 30 seated) and the Elevated room (up to 24 seated).
Charcuterie and wine at Reserve Food & Wine in Grand Rapids
Photo by Experience Grand Rapids
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 18, and the semi-private Loft seats up to 30. If your group requires more space, the entire upstairs mezzanine can be rented to accommodate up to 100 guests.
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, 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, H.O.M.E. Entertainment Venue and Dr. Grins Comedy Club. Full-service catering is available.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 25-150 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.
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.
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.