GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After nine years in business, a popular upscale restaurant in Grand Rapids’ East Hills neighborhood is closing.

Grove, run by Essence Restaurant Group, had closed temporarily on March 16 due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Michigan. While its owners initially intended to reopen Grove post-pandemic, they decided instead to fast-track a concept they had planned to roll out in the future: a southern-style chicken restaurant called Jimmy Berger’s Chicken Shack.

The new restaurant, located at 919 Cherry St. SE, is slated to open for carryout on May 1 in pop-up form. Once Michigan’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order expires, it will transition into a fast-casual restaurant. It will feature roasted chicken and chicken sandwiches, and sides like mashed potatoes, braised greens, baked beans, mac and cheese and waffle fries.

“This is happening to everybody. You know what we say is good things, bad things — it’s impossible to really tell in the moment what it really is,” Grove owner James Berg said. “If we just stick to who we are, stick to our values and do the next right thing, we will come out in the end the way we should have.”

Essence Restaurant Group’s other Grand Rapids restaurants, Bistro Bella Vita and The Green Well, are expected to reopen to dine-in guests once state restrictions are lifted. The Green Well, which has stayed open for takeout during the pandemic, will have a heavy emphasis on carry-out and online ordering. Bistro Bella Vita is expected to reopen in phases, incorporating social distancing practices in its large dining rooms.

The restaurant group said that soon after the pandemic began affecting the restaurant business, it became clear that the small, intimate setting of Grove would not work in the post-pandemic world.

“We recognize not all restaurants will be able to remain in business during this crisis. “We are fighting for our survival along with our colleagues in hopes that the industry will recover. We are hopeful we will once again employ more than 100 team members—but we can only do that if we make it to the other side of this pandemic intact. We are not special; we are not curing diseases; we are simply feeding people in hopes that we can survive and continue contributing to our community once this is over.”

James Berg Essence Group managing partner

Details on Jimmy Berger’s Chicken Shack can be found online at

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