DDA approves grant to help open new restaurant in GR

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A once-popular spot in downtown Grand Rapids is getting new life.

The location at 106 Pearl St. NW, formerly home to Raggs to Riches and their famous Harry Buffalos, may no longer be recognizable. 

On Wednesday, Grand Rapids’ Downtown Development Authority approved a $45,000 grant to help Ambiance GR Kitchen and Lounge get off the ground. It’s a homegrown business that will offer food and live music. 

The men behind this new project believe it will enrich the community. Jonathan Jelks and Jamiel Robinson are two of the six owners who call themselves Team Ambiance. They showed 24 Hour News 8 inside the space where you can still see the old signs on the walls, but soon it will have a whole new feel — a new ambiance. 

“For people who were in here, the last time this place was occupied, the bar was essentially this whole area,” Robinson explained. “We want to open up the space and make it more inviting, make it more of a lounge feel.”

Ambiance GR is more than just a cool new place for millennials to hang out. 

“It’s historic,” Jelks said. 

Ambiance is a black-owned business, the first for downtown Grand Rapids in years. Six friends from Grand Rapids’ southeast side came together to make it happen. 

It’s a special project for the group, whose members go as far back as high school or even elementary school.

The men have worked on other community projects in their neighborhood, individually or with a couple of guys from the group. But this is their first feat, together in the heart of the city. 

“We’re looking to be a model of how you work collaboratively to bring and add value to what’s already occurring in our city,” Robinson said. “So that’s what we want to do. And hopefully we will inspire others.”

Ambiance GR is expected to open this summer. 

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