GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new coffee and wine bar is set to open on Cherry Street in Grand Rapids.
Construction is underway at Chateau Grand Rapids, located at 955 Cherry St. near Lake Street, the former site of retail shop The Grassy Knoll.
It will have seating inside for 44 people, plus a patio. During the daytime it will serve coffee and locally-made pastries, and in the evening it will offer an extensive wine selection with small bites like oysters, cheese and charcuterie.
“We’re really excited to offer customers in Grand Rapids the experience to try minimal-intervention wines and also specialty coffee right there on Cherry Street,” Chateau Grand Rapids partner Chris Swart said.
Minimal-intervention wines are wines that don’t use things like pesticides in the vineyards or use things like yeast or sulfur dioxide in the cellar, he explained.
Chris Swart and his wife, Allaire Swart, spent some time traveling throughout the world and visiting wine bars.
“We would love to have the ability to visit a wine bar here in town that fits that same kind of mold of having a very special ambiance and carrying wines that are cared for in this way,” Chris Swart explained. “We saw this opportunity, this hole in the market here in Grand Rapids and we thought it was a great opportunity for us to help bring something special to our community and some place that we personally would love to hang out.”
They worked with a design team to create a space they believe will be unique in the city. The space will be a relaxed, upscale environment that’s full of energy, Chris Swart said, noting they’re carefully curating things like the music selection, the lighting, the artwork and even the smell of the coffee and wine bar.
Their wine selection will change frequently, while they’ll have four or five coffees that change every week.
“We want our guests to constantly be trying new things,” Chris Swart said.
The couple, who met in Detroit before moving to Las Vegas and then returning to West Michigan, said they enjoy hosting friends and family at their home.
“We have the ability to take that six-person dining table and expand it to a 44-person bar,” Christ Swart said. “… I think that’s what’s most exciting and keeps me going on this project, is the moment we’ll be able to have our friends in the space. And we hope everyone will join us and be our friends in that way.”
They said they’ve heard a lot of excitement from the community as they work on opening the space.
“People just seem to think that something like this is really needed and that that’s an exciting location for it,” Allaire Swart said. “So I think that overall people are really looking forward to it opening.”
They said having Chateau Grand Rapids on Cherry Street was a “no-brainer.”
“It’s just such a beautiful and historic kind of district in Grand Rapids and the neighbors there are just outstanding and we want to be able to complement our neighbors and to … continue to create an energetic and dynamic area,” Chris Swart said.
The space is set to be ready by December. They hope to have the bar open in some capacity by the end of the year.
The two will start recruiting for the bar soon, and they said anyone they hire will be a partner as well and will be treated like they’re owners. Along with making a livable wage, all employees will get a profit share that will be distributed monthly.
“You’ll be asked the same questions that we ask ourselves … in terms of how can we keep getting better, how can we have better guest service and better bottom line results. We really want to help develop a team that thinks like owners and one day has the ability to open their own special space,” Chris Swart explained.
He later added that companies “are really missing out on a huge opportunity by not hearing from their team that is actually dealing with guests one-on-one every day, and actually the ones that are generating the revenue.”
The couple said they hope the business model will lead to dedicated employees who are excited to come to work and help build the business.
“We really want our guests to join us in this experience of trying new things and learning more about coffee and wine,” Chris Swart said. “We’re certainly by no means experts. We are just enjoyers and passionate people who love wine and coffee ourselves and want to help share those with our friends here in Grand Rapids.”
“We’re getting to do something that’s our dream,” Allaire Swart said. “… We’re just lucky that we get to do that and do it together.”