GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — ArtPrize begins throughout the downtown area Thursday, as nearly 9 out of 10 restaurants in the state are operating with inadequate staffing, according to the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association. While businesses throughout the city continue to deal with staffing shortages, they plan to get creative in order to make the most out of the expected influx in customers.
It has been several years since the city got a full ArtPrize experience. It was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, and a smaller-scale event dubbed 'Project 1' in 2019.
The smaller event was organized by the ArtPrize team, and included a handful of large-scale installations. Organizers introduced a new event schedule a few years ago that has ArtPrize happening every other year now.
“I'm excited to see people downtown," said Randy Taylor, general manager of Sundance Grill and Bar.
"It's been like such a ghost town down here for so long, it will be nice to get back to some normalcy.”
With art splashed around every corner of Grand Rapids, crowds will be plentiful.
“The staffing crisis hit us pretty hard, but we’ve had a good influx of new hires that are learning the job pretty well, so, we’re pretty hopeful that it will go smoothly,” Taylor said Monday.
He says the massive scope of an event like ArtPrize is already a challenge to plan for.
“It's almost impossible to staff for, or to predict how its going to go, and also it's tough because you don’t want to over staff," Taylor said. "You don't want to have 20 more employees on your staff after the 3 week ArtPrize that you don't have hours for when its all over. So, I think we found a good middle ground.”
Most of the restaurants on Monroe Center that FOX 17 spoke to Monday afternoon said they were dealing with some level of staffing shortages, though all of them were anticipating the ArtPrize crowds, and ready to get creative.
"We have enough to handle us at capacity, and we might have to go on a wait sometimes, but I think it will go pretty well,” Taylor said.
“If you want to go to our website you can get on our wait list online, or see what the wait looks like so you can kind of anticipate, maybe plan out your meals, if you plan to walk around down town.”