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Essence Restaurant Group will open a Green Well Gastropub in the Rockford Promenade building later this year. Essence Restaurant Group will open a Green Well Gastropub in the Rockford Promenade building later this year. COURTESY PHOTO

Essence Restaurant Group proposes restaurant expansion in downtown Rockford

BY Thursday, January 19, 2017 08:00am

ROCKFORD — Essence Restaurant Group will bring its popular Green Well Gastropub restaurant brand to northern Kent County.

The Grand Rapids-based restaurant operator announced plans to open The Green Well Rockford later this year in the Rockford Promenade building located on the banks of the Rogue River.

The new restaurant, located at 8 E. Bridge St. in Rockford, will be an offshoot of Essence Restaurant Group’s nearly decade-old Green Well concept at 924 Cherry Street in Grand Rapids’ East Hills neighborhood.

“The interior will reflect what we’ve done on Cherry Street but it will be slightly different,” Lauren Jaenicke, Essence Restaurant Group’s marketing and sustainability director, told MiBiz. “Once we know the Rockford community slightly better, we’ll bring on some local flair items.”

The proposed new restaurant expects to hire between 35 and 40 people.

The space Green Well Rockford eventually plans to occupy has been vacant since Reds On the River closed last March and moved its restaurant to Thousand Oaks Golf Club near 5 Mile Road and the East Beltline NE. The company cited a lack of on-site parking as part of the reason behind the move, as MiBiz reported at the time.

That’s not something that concerns executives at Essence Restaurant Group.

“We love how walkable (downtown Rockford) is,” Jaenicke said. “It’s very similar to the East Hills neighborhood.”

The proposed Green Well expansion will be next door to Rockford Brewing Co., which recently opened a full-service kitchen, as well as several other bars, restaurants and shops.

Essence Restaurant Group leased the space from Ben Muller Realty Co. Inc., a Grand Rapids-based commercial brokerage, according to a statement.

The company’s website lists commercial lease rates at the Rockford Promenade building as between $22 and $25 per square foot, triple net, meaning that tenants are responsible for all utilities and general upkeep of facilities.

The building has two other vacant commercial spaces.

“Since the space went vacant last summer, I have been determined to find the best next tenant for this beautiful setting, and the professionals at Ben Muller Realty Company found the perfect match in Essence Restaurant Group,” Rockford Promenade building owner Daniel Trierweiler said in a statement.

In addition to the existing Green Well, Essence Restaurant Group also operates Grove — also on Cherry Street — and Bistro Bella Vita in downtown Grand Rapids south of the Van Andel Arena.

In 2015, the company announced an unspecified restaurant concept for a new mixed-use development at 820 North Monroe, but those plans never materialized.

Nonetheless, Jaenicke said the company is confident that an expansion of the Green Well name will work in Rockford and potentially in other locales as well.

“Ultimately, Rockford is the start of potential growth (for the Green Well brand),” Jaenicke said. 

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