A Moveable Feast joins the Street Party!

A Moveable Feast is a food truck and catering company founded by Brennan Summers in 2013. Brennan managed a food truck in Minneapolis, Minnesota before buying his own truck and returning to Grand Rapids, Michigan, his native state. Brennan is dedicated to providing customers with great grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, burritos, and more! A Moveable Feast also caters, including weddings, corporate events, graduation parties and more.

Brennan enjoys cooking for people and seeing his truck bring people together into the city. The food truck makes places fun and gets people out of their homes to try something new. Brennan loves the face-to-face interaction he gets with customers and wants to see “all of the good food choices we can get” in Grand Rapids. His menu was inspired by recipes he picked up over the years and adapted. He makes a lot of his food from scratch and makes the food easy to eat on the go. Brennan loves working in Grand Rapids and is always trying to grow his company.

You can find the food truck at Calder Plaza on Tuesdays and at Rosa Parks Circle on Thursdays. New this year is the Friday Night Food Fight, where several food trucks will gather weekly to battle for the best-tasting food. This will take place at “the wedge lot” located at 22 Ottawa Avenue NE.

You can find more out about A Moveable Feast at the Street Party on June 3 from 3:00pm-midnight. Or visit amoveablefeasttruck.com and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. 

‘Good for Grand Rapids’ comes to life at 14th annual Local First Street Party

Over the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed stickers popping up in the windows of your favorite local businesses that read “This Business is Good for Grand Rapids #Good4GR.” If you’ve been wondering what #Good4GR is all about, you’ll have a chance to experience the movement during our 14th annual Street Party on Saturday, June 3.

Each year, we bring together our neighbors, friends and family for a celebration of all things local at Street Party. This year, we’re taking the celebration to a deeper level by sharing our vision for a local economy that’s welcoming and inclusive by spreading the word about “Good for Grand Rapids.”   

Launched in January, “Good for Grand Rapids” is a local initiative that builds awareness of businesses that are making a positive social, environmental impact right here in Grand Rapids. “Good for Grand Rapids” recognizes people are at the heart of our local economy, and to keep growing, we need to support a local economy that’s welcoming, inclusive and creates opportunities for all people.

This year the Street Party brings all things “Good for Grand Rapids” to life by showcasing our many vibrant local businesses, musicians and food vendors. Local First encourages attendees to take photos in the Smitten Booth and use #Good4GR on social media to join the conversation.

Street Party kicks off at 3 p.m. on 44 Grandville Ave. SW in downtown Grand Rapids with AM Yoga for 30 minutes of gentle yoga. The celebration goes until midnight and will feature an expanded kids’ activity area with the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Audacious Hoops, Sanctuary Folk Art and 61Syx Teknique Street Dance Academy.

We are excited to bring our community together in a safe, fun and inclusive space to celebrate the positive impact of supporting local businesses in Grand Rapids. Bilingual and accessibility signage will help all attendees feel welcome. Volunteers will also be available to address any specific needs.

We also encourage everyone to ride their bike or ride the Rapid to Street Party. As a “thank you” for those who use alternative transportation to get downtown, guests will receive a free concession ticket. Bike parking will be provided by the Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition. Remember to bring a bike lock!

“Good for Grand Rapids” starts with supporting local. We can’t wait to celebrate the businesses and people who make Grand Rapids an amazing place to live during this year’s Street Party. For more information about Street Party, localfirst.com/events/street-party or save the date through our Facebook Event.

Learn more about “Good for Grand Rapids” at localfirst.com/sustainability/good-for-grand-rapids

Say it ain’t so! Michele Lonergan counts down her Local First days

Local First announces the departure of Michele Lonergan, Business Development Manager. Michele began her tenure at Local First in January 2013 as a Membership Coordinator. In 2015, she was promoted to the role of Business Development Manager, developing strategic relationships with key partners and stakeholders and managing the Local First Membership Team. Under her direction and with the efforts of her dynamic team, Local First has grown to over 900 members. Prior to her stint at Local First, Michele was the founder and Executive Director of LIBA (Lakeshore Independent Business Alliance), an organization that eventually merged with Local First.

Michele is moving on to pursue the next chapter in her life: a sabbatical that includes a cross country road trip with her husband. Having launched three wonderful sons into the world, Michele is excited to make space to ponder what comes next! Michele has stated that her passion will always involve community-building and the localist movement.

Meet the Candied Yam – New to GR, New to the Street Party!

This year, Local First is excited to have The Candied Yam join the Street Party! The Candied Yam is a new southern cuisine restaurant, having opened at the beginning of 2017. The restaurant is owned by Jessica Ann Tyson and Jermone T Glenn and located in the Breton Meadows Plaza 2305 44th Street SE. The Candied Yam serves comfort soul food, caters, and delivers. They are primarily a take-out restaurant, but there are picnic tables for people to eat at as well, giving off a friendly, welcoming air.  

Jessica Ann and Jermone are both foodies and entrepreneurs. They opened the restaurant together when they realized that there wasn’t a lot of southern food offered in the area. They wanted to share their favorite food with the community. “There’s nothing else like it in GR,” Jessica Ann says. “It’s that good stick to your ribs southern food.” She loves employing people and giving back to the community.

Jessica Ann loves seeing her customers happy and enjoying the food. She told a story of an older white woman sharing a table in the restaurant with a young black male. They talked for over an hour while they ate. “It brings people together you wouldn’t normally see together,” Jessica Ann says. People as far as Cleveland have also visited the Candied Yam.

The Candied Yam is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30a.m. to 7p.m. and Sunday from 11:30a.m. to 4p.m.You can find more out about the Candied Yam at their website, thecandiedyamgr.com and can follow their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

Measure What Matters: Lions and Rabbits

This blog post is part of Local First’s Measure What Matters series, where we interview Local First Members who have taken the Quick Impact Assessment, and learn about how the assessment has helped them use their business as a force for good and be Good for Grand Rapids.

When you head over to the Creston neighborhood, you’ll find an art gallery that does so much more than simply curate art from local artists. Formerly a St. Vincent DePaul's thrift store, Lions & Rabbits is an art gallery and community retail space that serves as a place where people can learn, create and gather.

“I originally started Lions & Rabbits because I saw the opportunity for collaboration across the Grand Rapids art scene,” said Hannah Berry, artist and owner of Lions & Rabbits. “You’ll find a unique art community in almost every Grand Rapids neighborhood, and we wanted to create a space where those different communities could come together in one place.”

Lions & Rabbits opened its doors in October 2016 with the mission of becoming a hub for different types of art and artists, and allowing the community to come together to celebrate and support one another. The gallery offers a versatile space that showcases visual and performing artists. It also serves as a studio for Berry as well as local artists including Nathan Veenman of Green NV and Kenny Cutler of The Rushouse. Lions & Rabbits also offers yoga classes, hires local artists to teach community art classes and hosts pop-up shops throughout the year.

Berry completed Local First’s Quick Impact Assessment in April, 2017. Since Lions & Rabbits is a new business, Berry mentioned that the assessment provided a helpful overview of different practices one can implement within their business as they grow.

“We took the Quick Impact Assessment because we wanted to learn how to use our business to make a positive impact in Grand Rapids,” said Berry. “What we loved about the assessment was that it focuses on environmental best practices and sustainability, and it also urges people to do good. It’s great to see other businesses take this assessment and identify ways they can become Good for Grand Rapids.” 

In the future, Berry hopes to expand her team and create internships for students in the community. Her ultimate goal is to continue to make a positive economic impact through job creation while also promoting collaboration and community in Grand Rapids.

“I definitely recommend the Quick Impact Assessment to any business that’s looking to identify opportunities where they can grow,” said Berry. “My best advice is to be prepared to answer different questions about your business practices, such as your environmental impact, community engagement or hiring practices.”

Interested in learning how your business performs against best practices on employee, community and environmental impact? Join Local First at one of our Measure What Matters event or take the Quick Impact Assessment today and learn how much good your business is doing for the local economy and community at localfirst.com/sustainability/measure-what-matters

Local First’s CSA Adventure!

Spring is here and the Local First team is filled with excitement for a season marked by outdoor concerts, porch dinners, trips to Lake Michigan, and of course, farm fresh food! Mieke already took her motorcycle out for her first ride, Megan finished up her classes for the semester, Tony has been biking to work rocking his signature Chaco sandals, and Hanna is busy planning the landscaping for her new home, so needless to say, we are ready for this dreary spring weather to pass to make way for some blue skies and sunshine!

Back in February as we grew tired of the bitter cold winter months, and as our local food supplies grew scarce, we started dreaming of fridges stocked with Michigan grown produce. This excitement led us to sign up for community supported agriculture shares through Plainsong Farm. Co-owned by Nurya Love Parish and Michael and Bethany Edwardson, Plainsong Farm is located in Rockford Michigan. This business is committed to being a force for good and strives to carry out a quadruple bottom line fostering spiritual, ecological, economic, and social sustainability in all of its operations. Nurya has been a longtime supporter of Local First and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to support her farm.

As we gear up for the Michigan growing season together, we are eager to share our experiences trying new veggies, recipes, preservation techniques, and cooking fails with you all. Stay tuned as our CSA adventure officially begins this June!

Interested in learning more about Community Supported Agriculture? Read more

Roll’n Out historical news

Outdoor dining season is here! Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) hosts the largest food truck rally the city has ever seen, Roll’n Out Food Truck Fest. In partnership with the Grand Rapids Food Truck Association (GRFTA) and the Downtown Market, DGRI choreographed a culinary-themed event celebrating the City’s pilot ordinance. The food truck rally showcases 20+ local food trucks on Sunday, May 21 from 11AM-7PM at Heartside Park.

Events like this are made possible by the pilot ordinance. Prior to the new ordinance, the number of trucks permitted at the Grand Rapids Art Museum was limited to two at a time. Brennan Summers, President of GRFTA, remembers that it was a small but necessary step to get the process moving.

“The new ordinance has allowed us to capitalize on opportunities that were previously just out of reach for food truck owners,” says Summers.

“As an association, we’re continually trying to figure out ways to make food trucks more viable,” says GRFTA Vice President Lauren D’Angelo.

In 2016, Mayor Rosalynn Bliss worked in accordance with DGRI’s GR Forward plan, which was designed to support small businesses owners and entrepreneurs feel empowered to do business throughout Grand Rapids. That summer, the ordinance was in front of the City Commissioners and by the end of August, it passed. The two-year pilot program now allows food trucks to operate in 13 public zones, but still require parking fees.

The City’s pilot ordinance expands opportunities for local businesses across Grand Rapids. Roll’n Out features food trucks lining Ionia Ave. while cuisine-themed films play in Heartside Park. But wait, the fun doesn’t end there! An Artisan Village at the Downtown Market features 20+ local artists providing opportunities for interactive art and art for purchase.

Roll’n Out Food Truck Fest is a free event for the whole family. For a complete list of activities, vendors, and to let them know you’re coming, visit the DGRI Facebook page.

Roll’n Out Food Truck Fest
nSunday, May 21 from 11am to 7pm
nHeartside Park
n301 Ionia SW Grand Rapids, MI 49503