BRIGHTON GRAYE'S BISTRO AND LITTLE LUCY'S CAFE. Text and photo by Pam VanderPloeg copyright 2016 West Michigan Modern
BRIGHTON GRAYE'S BISTRO AND LITTLE LUCY'S CAFE are two new food venues occupying a cool 1960's building that stood vacant for a few years at 1747 Plainfield Avenue NE in the Grand Rapids Creston Neighborhood. Owners Larry Zeiser and Brian Giampapa are very active in the Creston Business District. In 2015, they began a $1,000,000 renovation designed to bring new life to this building and spur economic growth in this location. Brian and Larry are childhood friends from New Jersey who both happened to move to the Grand Rapids area. They developed and still own Graydon's Crossing on Plainfield Avenue NE, Logan’s Alley on Michigan Street and the Derby Station in Gaslight Village, East Grand Rapids.
A little history of the building. It all started with Daane's Meat Market in 1936. In 1958, David Daane, the son of the original owner partnered with his brother-in-law Sy VanderKooy and bought the property next door. A building was constructed in three phases. In 1958, they built a one-story concrete block building with face brick veneer and plate glass windows. They opened Daane's Food Market.
In 1961, they built a small addition in back of the original building to meet their refrigeration needs. In 1963, they built a large two story addition with an exterior of brick on two sides and the back of cement block. The addition was a storage area and stockroom. Daane's Food Market continued to operated a market at 1747 Plainfield NE and also expanded into other neighborhoods such as Grandville. In 1978, they moved their Plainfield Avenue operations to Breton Road SE, at the time a new and growing suburban area.
At that point, they leased the building to another family with deep roots in the retail food business. The store became D’Amico’s Food Market. The first D'Amicos Market opened in 1902 and operated out of 747 S. Division. Rose D’Amico was a baby when her mother took over the ownership of the family grocery. Rose took over the ownership when her mother died in 1961. According to the Grand Rapids Press, in 1976, when Rose was 57 years old she won the lottery and in 1978 she funded the opportunity for the family to the building at 1747 Plainfield Avenue NE in order to expand their grocery business. The Spica family operated D'Amico's Food Market there until 2011, when they closed the store. The building stood vacant until 2015.
TODAY THE RENOVATED BUILDING IS THE HOME OF BRIGHTON GRAYE'S BISTRO AND LITTLE LUCY'S CAFE. The ownership of the building remains with the VanderKooy family. Larry and Brian worked with the VanderKooy's who still own the building to update it and create a modern and functional space for their new eateries. The Bistro is located in the 1963 two story brick addition. A new grouping of large windows over the bar is one of the biggest changes. These windows add light and style to what was a solid expanse of brick. Cool metal partitions, cut from the former stockroom conveyor belts, separate the booths and mirror the design of the IKEA hanging light fixtures. Open balcony seating adds to the drama of the stylish two-story space. A wonderful original extra wide wood door separates the Bistro from Little Lucy's.
Little Lucy’s Cafe, a cozy and casual eatery, is located in the original 1958 one-story market with a facade of brick veneer and plate glass windows. Metal wall sculptures give a nod to the building's mid-century roots. The floor is interesting. They sanded it down until you can see the "ghost" of the old floor and then put a finish on it.
Also in that space is a deli to sell take-out versions of the restaurants specialties. Umbrella tables provide outdoor seating with a view to the new nicely planted boulevard on that section of Plainfield. The building also plenty of space for food preparation, the greenhouse to grow fresh ingredients and other plans in the works.
Today the Creston neighborhood is definitely enjoying a buzz of building renovation and activity!