GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - In the past few years, we have seen changes when it comes to your restaurant options in downtown Grand Rapids.
In February 2012, huge lines formed as Buffalo Wild Wings opened its doors on Ionia Avenue.
And just a few weeks ago, Bagger Dave's opened on Fulton Street near the Grand River.
The chain trend continues, as Panera Bread opened its doors Monday morning at 99 Monroe Ave.
But is this trend good for all the locally owned places?
24 Hour News 8 asked the Downtown Development Authority whose officials said the opening of Panera Bread will diversify the downtown business landscape. They also credit a changing economy, saying it presents an opportunity for national businesses to invest in a local landscape.
24 Hour News 8 was also told that Grand Rapids is attracting businesses, like those aforementioned, because the city is seen as a very diverse environment. There is also a trend toward living downtown, and more than 35,000 people commute to Grand Rapids for work every day. There is a thought amongst the business community that once national chains like Panera Bread move in that more and more will join.
"But the trend will be a slow transition from one that of largely Ma and Pop local retailers to one of national," said Kristopher Larson, executive director of DDA. "It's not going to change overnight, so it will be a slow transition."
So what does this mean to Mom and Pop shops in downtown Grand Rapids?
Larson said the diversity of Grand Rapids offers opportunities for both to exist.
11 fire departments from several counties were called out to a fire at an adult entertainment club Wednesday afternoon.
Holland police were searching for 28-year-old Mark Steven Randall Harris, who was considered armed and dangerous, but arrested him late Wednesday night.
Those receiving the 2013 White House holiday card will see a design made by a Grand Rapids artist.