GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The company that manages DeVos Place Convention Center is exploring an idea to allow pop-up restaurants inside the Grand Rapids venue.

Rich MacKeigan with ASM Global says the food court concept is just one of multiple ideas the company is discussing to utilize event space that has remained virtually empty since mid-March. That’s when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order banning large indoor events to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Grand Rapids is currently in Phase 4 of the state’s six-stage reopening plan, but even the next phase doesn’t address events that welcome thousands of people.

The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority discussed the pop-up restaurant idea during its July 10 meeting. MacKeigan said ASM Global is working with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and the Grand Rapids Downtown Market to determine its feasibility.

MacKeigan told News 8 Wednesday that the idea is “very much in exploratory mode right now” and ASM Global is “doing its due diligence” by checking with the Kent County Health Department and state officials about what would be allowed.

MacKeigan says DeVos Place has hosted two or three sets of tours to gauge interest among restaurant owners and catering companies. Unapproved minutes from the authority’s meeting say the concept was “well received by 20 restaurants that have been impacted significantly by COVID-19.” The unapproved meeting notes state restaurant representatives “feel that a food court model would work.”

If the idea comes to fruition, participating restaurants and caterers would need to secure a temporary license to serve food in the ballrooms of DeVos Place.

MacKeigan says while there is plenty of space for dozens of businesses to serve food between the CAA’s facilities, the authority would likely limit the concept to five establishments because of the finite number of restaurants in the city.

A decision about whether to pursue the idea is expected by early August.