Getting the News

With the “demise” of the Grand Rapids Press…well, demise is a bit dramatic, but with the downsizing of the Grand Rapids Press, I am increasingly using Rapid Growth Media for a source of what is happening in this region.  I am no Pollyanna but for crying out loud, not all news needs to be bad!  After being subjected the mainstream media’s new reports I half expect to wake up as a character from Cormac McCarthy’s novel; The Road:

“Cormac McCarthy’s tenth novel, The Road, is his most harrowing yet deeply personal work. Some unnamed catastrophe has scourged the world to a burnt-out cinder, inhabited by the last remnants of mankind and a very few surviving dogs and fungi. The sky is perpetually shrouded by dust and toxic particulates; the seasons are merely varied intensities of cold and dampness. Bands of cannibals roam the roads and inhabit what few dwellings remain intact in the woods.”

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I can’t wait to see that movie….NOT.

Back to point, at least the fifteen or twenty minutes that I spend reading the news and articles from Rapid Growth Media, I end up feeling a bit more optimistic about the economy and life in general.  I mean how good is it that someone is opening a Mexican Restaurant in the Herkimer Hotel!  Making taquitos for heaven’s sake!  By the way, I think I know that Bellgraph guy….an old Amway crony of mine.  Maybe just the same name.  Anyway, I will certainly check this place out.  The salsa better be good.

$20,000 Herkimer Hotel renovation brings Mexican restaurant to Grand Rapids’ Heartside

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

“Pinch me, I’m dreaming” is a phrase Robert Bellgraph must be using these days. After 20 years of working toward opening his own restaurant, he’s nearly ready to welcome his first customers to Taquitos Mexican Grill at 327 S. Division Ave. in Grand Rapids — part of the historic Herkimer Hotel building owned by Dwelling Place.

As a teen, Bellgraph worked for his cousin, the owner of Palermo Pizza, and that’s when the “restaurant bug” bit.

“I love the restaurant business,” Bellgraph says. “I enjoy the service part of it a lot. I have a passion for service. I know it sounds weird but I generally like to pick up after people, it’s nice to see people’s faces when someone takes care of them.”

Bellgraph and the restaurant’s manager, Joe Martinez, have done the renovation work themselves, sprucing up the old bar and kitchen on the corner of Division and Goodrich.

Martinez was born in Mexico and the menu items—carne asada (marinated grilled steak), barbacoa (slow roasted shredded beef), chicken mole, burritos, tacos, whitefish and taquitos–are made with his family’s traditional recipes.

“We want to make the taquitos famous,” says Bellgraph, whose goal is to create a franchise and expand it to every major city in the United States.

The history of the 2,300-square-foot space includes time as a bar and as a restaurant. He repainted the walls rich shades of brick red and Sahara yellow.

“There hardwoods throughout the whole place,” Bellgraph notes. “Dark oak trim, oak on the walls, crown moldings, beams across the ceiling. We cleaned up the oak booths that are about 40 years old and put new seats on them.”

Bellgraph estimates a $20,000 investment. He plans a February 2 soft opening, with a grand opening in March.

Source: Robert Bellgraph, Taquitos Mexican Grill; Heather Ibrahim, Dwelling Place, Inc.

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

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