Grand Rapids Needs a New Unique Restaurant
There was a time in Grand Rapids that we had several unique restaurants. Places that were fun to hang out with family and friends, but also cool places to take visitors from out of state. Great places like Tootsie Van Kelly's, Roaring 20's Pizza, Rosie's Diner, Kahunaville, or Village Inn Pizza.
We just don't really have a place like that anymore. I'd love to see some new restaurant open up that offered up something unique -- other than food. A cool new atmosphere to go and enjoy.
Let's take a look at some of the cool West Michigan Restaurants of the past...
Tootsie Van Kelly's -- Located in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel from 1981 to 1995. This restaurant offered up not only food, but a great show by Tootsie Van Kelly. She would be up on stage with her band belting out the songs. Whenever someone came to Grand Rapids, they had to make sure to stop to see Tootsie. There was always a line to get in and while waiting in line, you could see the pictures of all the celebrities that had visited and had their picture taken with Tootsie. Read more about Tootsie Van Kelley's. There is also a Tootsie Van Kelly's Facebook page.
Roaring 20's Pizza -- Located on 28th St. S.E. this was not only a place to get pizza, but you could sit and eat your pizza watching silent movies on the big screen. As an added bonus, an organist would be playing music on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ to accompany the silent film. Roaring 20's is long gone, but the organ is now at the Grand Rapids Public Museum in downtown Grand Rapids. Read more about Roaring 20's Pizza. There is also a Remembering Roaring 20's Pizza & Ron Walls Facebook page.
Rosie's Diner -- Located on 14 Mile Road in Rockford. Rosie's Diner is an old dining car that was moved from the east coast to Rockford. Two additional diner cars were also located next to Rosie's Diner. The diner car was often used in Bounty paper towel commercials. It was also feature on "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives". The dining cars have sat empty for many years. Read more about Rosie's Diner. There is also a Rosie's Diner Facebook page.
Kahunaville -- Located in the Rivertown Crossings Mall. This restaurant was very similar to the Rainforest Cafes that you may have seen across the country. Kahunaville featured the robotic Big Kahuna greeting you at the front door and while you were eating you would be entertained by the dancing waters light and music show. They also had a bar/arcade across the hall in the mall. There is a Kahunaville Facebook page.
Village Inn Pizza -- There were a couple of these restaurants -- One on Alpine Avenue and another on 28th Street. Village Inn had great pizza, plus while eating your pizza you would be entertained by a live banjo and piano player. On the tables were song books with the lyrics to most of the songs they would play. It was kind of the beginning of karaoke with everyone singing along to great songs like "On Top of Spaghetti" and "There's a Whole in the Bottom of the Sea". There are still Village Inn Pizza restaurants in the area -- one on 44th Street and one in Holland. These restaurants are not like the Village Inn restaurants of the past.
Could a place like these unique restaurants of the past exist in Grand Rapids now?
Would a similar type restaurant work today? Or have our entertainment values and attention spans changed so much that no one would visit a place like that?
Most of these places have been gone for decades but still are remembered by many. They obviously had an impact on us in the past.