GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A company that originally wanted to replace a Grand Rapids Big Boy restaurant with a gas station and convenience store is taking similar plans to 28th Street.
On Thursday, the Grand Rapids Planning Commission approved a special land use permit allowing Kum & Go to demolish a former Extreme Car Audio building and a car repair shop on the southeast corner of 28th Street and Englewood Avenue SE to build the new business.
The proposal includes six fuel pumps that can service a dozen vehicles at a time. Kum & Go Senior Real Estate Development Manager Dave Lemons said it will also have a conduit to support an electric vehicle charging spot when future demand calls for it.
Kum & Go’s 24-hour convenience store would sell food, coffee, basic groceries and beer and wine during hours allowed by state regulators.
Lemons told the planning commission that the roughly 800-square-foot kitchen proposed for the 28th Street location won’t serve up the typical gas station food.
“I don’t have a roller grill and nasty nachos and hot dogs and all of that kind of fun stuff. Probably more of a fast casual restaurant than it is a convenient store situation from a food perspective, and it’s really the future of our business. So we’re super excited about that,” he said.
Kum & Go is new to the Grand Rapids area, but Lemons said the Des Moines, Iowa-based company is building three stores in the region that are expected to open late this year. He said the company is “moving into this market relatively rapidly” with the intent to build about 20 stores over the next two to three years.
The 28th Street proposal is similar to the project proposed at the Big Boy at 407 Pearl St. NW just west of US-131 in Grand Rapids. Kum & Go was planning to seek a special use permit for demolishing the restaurant and building a gas station and convenience store, but pulled the request from consideration earlier this month because “they heard of negative feedback from the community and wanted to work toward addressing those issues,” according to Senior Grand Rapids City Planner Elizabeth Zeller.
News 8 reached out to a company representative Friday for an update on that project, but has not yet heard back.
Kum & Go owns and operates 430 stores in 11 states. Lemons said about 70% of Kum & Go employees are hired for full-time, full benefit positions.
“We have people who are interested in a career and not a job,” he said.
Lemons said the family-owned company gives back 10% of its profits each year to community organizations and is already planning on partnering with Habitat for Humanity on a 2023 build. He said Kum & Go has also donated 3 million meals to those in need over the last two years.