GRAND RAPIDS — The owner of southern-style restaurant The Candied Yam LLC is eyeing an expansion with a new banquet hall and restaurant along South Division Avenue in Grand Rapids.
The Grand Rapids Planning Commission approved the special land use request on Thursday for a banquet hall that allows alcohol service in the existing 7,000-square-foot building at 932 S. Division Ave. The space was formerly occupied by Club Tequila.
“Over time and over the years, things have changed and this building became an eyesore to the community,” Candied Yam Owner Jessica Ann Tyson told the Planning Commission. “It is now a property where we can say we want to make a better place where the community can come, dine and create new memories.”
Conceptual plans call for a restaurant component in part of the building with an occupancy of about 96 people, as well as a banquet area that could accommodate 218 people. Plans also call for upgrades to the 73-space parking lot on the site.
The location would be in addition to The Candied Yam’s existing restaurant at 2405 44th St. SE on Grand Rapids’ south side.
The Planning Commission granted a minimum-space parking waiver as part of the special land use permit because of the restaurant’s proximity to public transit.
Alcohol would not be served at the restaurant. Events held at the banquet space that serve alcohol would be through a caterer with an alcohol permit. Plans call for events at the banquet hall to end by 11 p.m. and for employees to be off the premises by midnight.
Nearby property owner Cynthia Hicks criticized the project for allowing alcohol in part of the building, and called it a “slap in the face” to neighbors and community members.
Meanwhile, New Hope Baptist Church, United Methodist Community House and others submitted letters in support of the project.
“We have the community’s support,” Tyson said. “We couldn’t get to the place where we are now without the community’s support and doing right by the community.”
The project would turn the currently vacant property into a source of pride for the community, Elliot Muller, sales associate at Ben M. Muller Realty Co. Inc. and co-owner of the project, said during the Planning Commission meeting.
“This property has been vacant or underutilized for over a decade now, and is ripe for a use that fulfills a need in the neighborhood and allows the city to collect tax revenue and allows nearby employment opportunities for neighbors,” Muller said.
Mull Trie LLC — which is registered to the realty company’s president, Mark Muller — acquired the property in November 2019 for $500,000, according to city property records.