Stan’s Tacos: Inside the expansion from Grand Haven to Grand Rapids

Ottawa County

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — People who live and work in Grand Haven have a new place to celebrate taco Tuesday.

Stan’s Tacos opens to the public Tuesday at 11 a.m.

The restaurant is located in the former Citizens Bank site off U.S. 31 near Columbus Avenue. Gone are the red bank signs and gray walls, replaced with orange lettering, white walls and seafoam green trim.

“You can’t miss it. It’s very bright,” said Mike Thorp, operations manager for Stan’s Tacos and Morning Belle restaurants. “We wanted to bring some of the beachy feel from Grand Haven into that one, so we’re excited to unveil it.”


GRAND HAVEN

Thorp said the Grand Haven restaurant has been a work in progress by owner Meritage Hospitality Group for almost two years.

“We had different ideas on what we were going to do with that location, and really coming out of the pandemic was when we decided that we wanted it to be a Stan’s Tacos,” he said.

Thorp said the success Stan’s Tacos found when it was forced to shift to carryout service helped steer the decision to grow beyond the restaurant’s namesake community of Standale.

“There were a lot of people in West Michigan that really wanted to support local businesses and keep the people who are working making money along the whole process. That part was just great for us. It was huge. It meant a lot. And honestly, it was a big driver on us moving forward with other Stan’s Tacos locations,” Thorp said.


DOWNTOWN GRAND RAPIDS

Meritage Hospitality Group is currently putting the finishing touches on its next Stan’s Tacos at the corner of Ottawa Avenue and Oakes Street NW in downtown Grand Rapids.

For months, crews have worked to transform the former Wheelhouse restaurant’s upscale interior into a space inspired by West Coast beach parties.

“We have beach chairs, bonfire chairs, Adirondack chairs, all those kinds of things to get that feel,” said Thorp.

Hanging on the walls are hand painted signs by Sotir Davidhi, who also created custom murals for each Stan’s Tacos restaurant.

In addition to an expansive dining area that can seat roughly 160 people, the downtown restaurant will feature a front area for carryout service. Online ordering and delivery will also be available.

Meritage Hospitality Group expects to open the Grand Rapids restaurant in early September before ArtPrize starts.

“It’s a great space,” said Thorp. “Us just getting in there and being creative and figuring out what would work well, I think we nailed it. We’re excited about that one.”


GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP

(An Aug. 9. 2021 photo shows the Morning Belle restaurant at 1600 E. Beltline Ave. NE, which will soon share its space with Stan’s Tacos.)

The next Stan’s Tacos should open about two months later along the East Beltline. The fourth location will share space with Meritage Hospitality Group’s first Morning Belle restaurant, replacing a former front storage area with a pickup counter.

“We’re really not taking anything away from Morning Belle, we’re just adding to it,” Thorp said.

While there will be some seats for guests, the East Beltline Stan’s Tacos will focus on takeout service.

“If that location goes well, we would look at opening other locations similar to that one,” Thorp said.


STANDALE

(An Aug. 2, 2021 photo shows the recently updated sign and new patio for Stan’s Tacos, located at 355 Wilson Ave. NW in Walker.)

Changes are also underway at the original restaurant in Standale, which recently added a patio and rebranded from Stan Diego Baja Taco Kitchen.

“We’re… discussing possibly going outside of the state into other markets, too. So we felt Stan’s Tacos was a good name that we could bring with us wherever we went,” Thorp said.

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