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Grand Rapids Social Zones

Outdoor Dining, Shopping, Fitness & Fun

Grand Rapids is going all out to support local businesses and help visitors maintain social distance. Social zones allow restaurants, breweries, retailers, gyms and other providers to serve customers in outdoor public spaces – streets, sidewalks, parks and parking lots that have been transformed into open-air marketplaces.

Prioritizing Health of Businesses & Customers

With COVID-19 restrictions limiting the number of people who can gather inside a business, social zones expand the space available for visitors to dine, shop, exercise and more. More space makes it easier to maintain the six-foot distance health authorities recommend to combat the spread of the virus. Plus, evidence is mounting that the virus may not transmit as easily outdoors, and zones will be equipped with hand sanitizer stations to help reduce the risk of surface transmission. Visitors are still required to wear masks when not eating or drinking!

What to Expect

Each zone is different because the businesses surrounding it are different. All zones include tables and chairs – spaced at least six feet apart – where patrons can eat takeout meals and drink alcohol in sealed containers purchased from nearby restaurants. Retailers can display their goods in sidewalk-sale fashion. Gyms and exercise studios might conduct classes, there may be live music to enjoy and games to play … all out in the fresh, open air.

Downtown Social Zones

More than 170 restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, retail shops and service establishments are eligible to participate in four downtown zones. Following is an overview of current zone utilization. Additional seating and amenities may be announced at any time – we’ll update this page as necessary.

Monroe North. Bound by the Grand River to the west, Ionia Avenue to the east, Leonard Street to the north and I-196 to the south, the Monroe North Zone currently features restaurant-specific seating for Big E’s Sports Bar, City Built Brewing, Field & Fire Café, Garage Bar and Grill, Linear Restaurant, Rocky’s Bar & Grill, SpeakEZ Lounge, and Whitewater Café and Lounge.

Bridge Street. This social zone encompasses the city’s newest entertainment district, Bridge Street west from Seward Avenue to the Grand River. It offers restaurant-specific seating for the Anchor Bar, Fratelli’s Kitchen and Bar, New Holland Brewing-The Knickerbocker and The Sovengard, as well as open seating for such restaurants as Butcher’s Union, Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery, Morning Belle and O’Toole’s Public House.

Center City. Monroe Center Avenue returns to its ‘80s-era incarnation as a pedestrian mall in the City Center zone, which extends roughly from I-196 north to Fulton Street south, and Winter Avenue west to Division Avenue east. There are more than 190 tables available for open and restaurant-specific seating to support the Center City’s 60+ restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Food trucks will be stationed near Rosa Parks Circle at select times. Ah-Nab-Awen Park and Calder Plaza may be used for outdoor fitness classes.

Heartside/Ionia Ave. Extending from roughly Fulton street to the north, Logan Street to the south, Market Avenue to the west and Division Avenue to the east, the Heartside Zone includes restaurant-specific seating for Divani, Luna and The Pyramid Scheme, among others, plus open seating for dozens of other restaurants. Ionia Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic between Weston Street and Fulton Street from 8pm to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, increasing the space available for visitors to enjoy outdoor fare from such businesses as Buffalo Wild Wings, Go Java, Grand Rapids Brewing Company, HopCat and Sparks BBQ.

Parking and Transportation

Some street and lot parking has been eliminated to make room for seating and other amenities. Traffic routes have also been shifted in some zones. Visit the Grand Rapids City website to find the nearest available parking to each zone. You can use the free DASH bus service to travel within and between downtown social zones, which are adjacent to each other.

Pets Welcome

These are public spaces, so pets on leashes are allowed. Individual restaurants might not allow non-service animals in their outdoor dining spaces – please check first.

Social Zones Outside Downtown

The city has also identified additional commercial districts in neighborhoods outside downtown for outdoor space activation. That means restaurants and other businesses in these districts can work with the city to create social zones. These zones are still being developed – we’ll post updates as soon as they become available.

Leonard Street

The Mitten Brewing Company has opened “The Outfield,” an outdoor social zone that complements its vintage baseball theme. It’s an ideal spot to enjoy a cold beer and delicious pizza – and it’s dog-friendly!

Uptown

The Winchester gastropub has transformed its Wealthy Street parking lot into a summer oasis complete with socially distanced picnic tables, greenery and magical nighttime lighting. Other Wealthy Street restaurants within two blocks of The Winchester also offer outdoor seating: Donkey Taqueria, Elk Brewing, Outside Coffee, Royals and Zivio.

Alpine

Amore Trattoria Italiana has created a spacious dining patio in a portion of its parking lot, just 15 minutes north of downtown Grand Rapids. Now you can enjoy the award-winning restaurant’s homemade Italian fare al fresco!