Grand Rapids launching new West Fulton social district

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids will lay out its third social district on Fulton Street on the city’s West Side.

The Grand Rapids City Commission on Tuesday OK’d the zone along W. Fulton between Garfield and Marion avenues. It should be in place by mid-June.

Inside the area are Joey’s Tavern and Putt Putt’s Bar. Those bars will be allowed to sell alcohol that patrons can then carry around the zone in special cups. There will also be outdoor seating in front of Joey’s and the McDonald’s across the street.

“We’ve all been getting together and trying to raise the platform a little bit and make sure the West Side is the best side, you know,” said Charlie Fischer, part-owner of Putt Putt’s Bar.

The goal of the social zones is to help bars and restaurants weather coronavirus pandemic capacity restrictions, allowing them to keep serving customers and keep those customers moving between establishments.

“We had a tough time when we were down to 25% (capacity). Not only do you have so many people coming in but you have to have people at the door counting,” Fischer said. “So your payroll goes up but your income is still down.”

But Fisher feels things are looking up:

“They’re on the right track,” he said. “We are taking baby steps right now but once we put on big-boy shoes I think we are in good shape, I really do. I’m excited about what’s going on.”

Grand Rapids currently has three social districts: downtown, along Wealthy Street and the West Fulton site.

The West Fulton district will go up for review before the City Commission at the end of the year. The city says such zones are here to stay for as long as the state allows them. The current Public Act that permits them carries through 2024.

Several other West Michigan cities also have robust social zones, including Rockford and Lowell. Holland is also setting one up.

*Correction: A previous version of this article said there would be five social districts in Grand Rapids. That was based on outdated information. There will actually be three, including West Fulton.

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