Recovering from riot, downtown GR restaurants aim to reopen next week

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Behind boarded-up windows, restaurant owners in downtown Grands Rapids are scrambling to rebuild and reopen before sit-down dining can resume across the state Monday.

Since the weekend unrest, businesses have been focused on repairing what was damaged by rioters who smashed out windows and looted from shops.

Freshii’s downtown location in McKay Tower facing Pearl Street was among the restaurants hardest hit. Surveillance footage shows rioters smashing through the windows and stealing from the cash register.

“The process is right now to get a safe entrance and exit for our customers and then also get our POS system — there was some damage done to our point of sale system — so we’re going to get both those fixed on Monday and we’re going to reopen on Tuesday,” owner Nathan Ashcraft said.

A rioter takes a shovel to McKay Tower in downtown Grand Rapids on May 31, 2020.

That’s only one day later than the initial plan, but not every downtown restaurant will be ready to open next week.

Angel’s Thai Café across from Rosa Parks Circle, also damaged by rioters, has yet to set a reopen date. Café manager Angelina Chang said the shop is still getting its bearings after the windows were smashed and the cash register stolen.

A block down Monroe Center, eatery Little Bird has had slightly better luck. It was able to reopen this week for takeout orders only.

“We were closed for three days and we just started opening for lunch yesterday,” owner Sarah Wepman said.

While every restaurant damaged has its own hurdles ahead, the downtown business community takes comfort in the fact they’re all in this together.

“Anything that keeps us from being open is detrimental,” Wepman said. “It was difficult to see so much pain being unleashed on the city when we all work so hard to make it a positive and beautiful place to live in.”

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