GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — They come for the eggs at breakfast, the burgers at lunch time and the talk around the counter.
“It’s kind of like you’re sitting at the dining room table with friends, you know,” said Ron Messelink, who has been a regular at the Choo Choo Grill in Grand Rapids for about a dozen years. “It’s not just an iconic restaurant, it’s an iconic culture. I mean, you get everything in here.”
Stepping into the Choo Choo Grill at the intersection of Plainfield Avenue and Leonard Street is like stepping back in time, before anyone used the term social media.
“There isn’t places like this anymore to speak of. They’re going by the wayside left and right,” owner Rick Mack said.
Mack bought the grill from his father-in-law in 1997. He said the place has a certain charm that makes him look forward to going to work every day.
“You can sit at the counter, chat with somebody you’ve never seen before, maybe even make a new friendship,” Mack said.
But after 26 years of getting up at 2 a.m. every day to get the Choo Choo ready for the breakfast crowd, Mack is ready to retire. The listing price for the grill and the building next door is $1.5 million. Whether the sale will mark the end of the line for the Choo Choo remains to be seen.
“It’s the end for me if it sells,” Mack said. “But whether it keeps going or not, I can’t say.”
Longtime customers are holding on to the hope that the Choo Choo stays. Mack said it will, at least for now.
“A lot of people are kind of sad about it. But it’s not over,” Mack said. “We’re still here. It’s only for sale.”