GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Businesses hit hard by the pandemic are welcoming customers to Grand Rapids as ArtPrize begins.
Restaurants, hotels and stores are hoping the event brings more visitors to the city.
The downtown location of Peppino’s Pizzeria and Sports Grille is already seeing more people coming through its doors, according to general manager Chris Cutting.
“Even yesterday, we were having people that were out of town coming through asking to look at the artwork and so, we’re pretty excited, mainly heading into this weekend, just to gauge what the foot traffic is going to be like,” Cutting said.
Cutting says restaurants are facing new challenges with the pandemic and they are not sure what the crowds will look like this year.
“Obviously, planning includes staffing. In restaurants, that’s a major concern for a lot of people, also ordering for food, alcohol, drinks,” Cutting said.
Across the street, the new Portico restaurant and Canopy Hotel by Hilton is experiencing ArtPrize for the first time. General manager Mark Parker says they are thrilled to have ArtPrize entries in their lobby.
“We’ve been fortunate to get a really great group of folks that have come in and have put up some amazing pieces for us,” Parker said.
Bookings at the newly constructed hotel are also seeing a boost.
“As we track our rooms sold, you can see a significant spike during ArtPrize, and you can see that it’s a different clientele. It’s not the normal business traveler that we would often have Sunday through Thursday,” Parker said.
Smaller restaurants like Sparks BBQ near Van Andel Arena have been getting ready to serve more customers. The restaurant opened right before the pandemic and is hopeful the business keeps coming in, according to general manager Michael Wheeler.
“Lunch was busy. We filled up fast. We are one of the fewer locations open downtown, so we’d really like to take advantage of that,” Wheeler said.