New Restaurant Looks to Thrive in Plagued Downtown Space

Posted at 6:54 PM, Jun 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-05 19:15:53-04

“McKay’s Downtown” has been under renovation for about three months.

Chef Michael McKay (Santo) owns the restaurant which is located in Downtown Grand Rapids on Ottawa near Fulton. The venture is about two years in making.

“We’ve been looking downtown for quite a while and then we found out that this was open, and I wanted it because it was next to the Van Andel Arena,” Santo explained.

However, the space has seen its share of problems in the past for two previous establishments. In July 2012, “25 Kitchen and Bar” went out of business.

Before that, there was the Margarita Grill.  It was plagued by problems including violence. There was a fight that resulted in a young man being killed.

“I saw what the previous businesses did, and they basically made just a giant bar, a giant nightclub bar,” Santo said.

“What we did is, I spent time to separate. We have almost three entities. We have a cocktail lounge downstairs we have a sports bar separated from our dining room,” he added.

FOX 17 talked to the Kent County Health Department. We’ve learned that 28 new food permits have been given out so far this year, including one for McKay.

“This is the first restaurant that’s entirely Michigan, including the bar,” he said. Santo said just about everything is produced locally, from the food to the beverages to the decor.

He’s ready to turn a leaf for this space and hopes his new restaurant on Ottawa will thrive.

“We’ll be watched very hard our first year, just to make sure we’re not doing the same thing they did but the city was very welcoming. They let us get the property, get the license, they’ve been nothing but great to us,” Santo said.

McKays will also be an Artprize venue and plans to open by July 1st.