When you go exploring in the largest neighborhood in the city of Grand Rapids you can easily stumble upon some hidden gems. Creston neighborhood and its 26,000 residents have a lot to talk about with those who are eager to learn. Originally an area of Dutch immigrants who cultivated their farms and orchards in the mid 1800’s, it evolved into a diverse population of people from all walks of life. Almost all locals in the neighborhood know of one mom and pop establishment – Creston Market. It has been a landmark in Grand Rapids since 1876. The historical market sources locally crafted beers & drinks, produce from local farms and Michigan food purveyor’s goods. Definitely stop in when you are in this rooted neighborhood to learn more about its culture and support the owners who have kept it local for all these years. The market is located at 1403 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids.
Like other Grand Rapids neighborhoods that are witnessing positive changes to their landscape and economy; local entrepreneurs are buying up abandoned buildings and updating them into eateries, bakeries and even breweries. Two childhood friends, who ended up in their adult years as business partners and choosing the Creston/Chesire neighborhoods to raise their families decided to embrace their local area by having dialogue with their local neighbors in asking what they would like to see go into the old D’Amico’s Food Market on North Plainfield. Larry Zeiser and Brian Giampapa took everyone’s advice and their own drive and invested in a local bakery/coffeehouse/cafe. Well known in Grand Rapids as restaurateurs behind the L & B Portfolio (Graydon’s Crossing, Logan’s Alley and Derby Station), Zeiser and Giampapa wanted their next project to be right in the neighborhood they live in. Mission accomplished.
On a cloudy Friday afternoon I decided to stop in at Little Lucy’s Cafe and Bakery (named after Larry’s daughter). The moment I parked my car in the neighborhood (plentiful parking) and followed several other curious individuals down the sidewalk, I knew I was in the right spot; bright green umbrellas shade the patrons dining al fresco outside of this cute mom and pop cafe and bakery. Little Lucy’s is drawing in local neighbors and families looking for breakfast, brunch and lunch menu selections.
Need a quick stop for your morning Cup of joe and breakfast on your way downtown? Little Lucy’s offers grab and go with their line of coffees, teas and a bakery case of fresh baked goods made from scratch in their onsite bakery. They also offer side salads ready for lunch on the go. So convenient and incredibly fresh! Viewing the bakery case, I could see that their homemade Cinnamon Buns and Big Newton Muffins were TOP SELLERS for the day….completely wiped out which tells me they must be good!
Executive Chef Jason Porter stated that the menu was developed with “global flavors sourced locally” in mind. His passion for keeping things simple but having fun with the menu names was reflective on Little Lucy’s commitment to building strong relationships through customer and community engagement. ’Family oriented’ was Larry and Brian’s goal when developing the concept for this warm neighborhood cafe and bakery. Breakfast items like the “Ring of Fire Pancake” (pan-fried in bacon fat, peanut butter and maple syrup – salivating yet?) and the Creston Scramble (Lucy’s potatoes, corned beef hash, red eye gravy, white cheddar, two-eggs-your way, choice of toast) were on many patrons tables as I took my seat. Decisions, decisions. A “brunchy” dish or a full blown lunch plate. The menu was enticing my palate in every direction.
My server’s favorites for brunch included the Shakshuka – sounded very global to me –poached eggs, tomato sauce, peppers, onions, caraway, Challah, and feta and a Cinnamon Bacon Roll. Yep, I said, Cinnamon Bacon Roll! A sweet dough made in their bakery rolled with cinnamon, bacon and orange glaze served on a plate with love. My finger landed on the Little Lucy Pie which was a petite seasonal quiche (local farm fresh eggs, diced ham, onion and jalapeno peppers) with a refreshing side salad drizzled with a light vinaigrette. Hit the spot!
Browsing over the menu as I was enjoying my food I discovered more that made my palate salivate just by reading the fresh ingredients! Bao Buns (bbq jackfruit, pickled red onion, carrot, cilantro and sesame-soy gastrique encased in a steamed fresh bakery bun) or their Hot Brown (roasted turkey, red eye bacon gravy, roasted tomato on a sliced piece of Challah) sounded intriguing and delicious. I look forward to making Little Lucy’s a regular stop. With their playful menu, Chef Porter’s commitment to source locally and good food made with lots of love – this place is going to be around for a long time!
L&B Portfolio owners didn’t stop dreaming in Creston after Little Lucy’s Cafe & Bakery. They expanded their thoughts and together decided to divide the old D’Amico Food Market in two. On the other side of Little Lucy’s you will find Brighton Graye’s Bistro (named after Brian’s son). It’s a bit more upscale and brings the feel of urban dining to the Creston neighborhood, with an emphasis on modern American cuisine.
Brighton Graye’s offers small and large plates made primarily with locally-grown ingredients, a menu that adjusts with the season, and craft cocktail selections.
Brighton Graye’s offers seating for 100 people inside, including 14 at its bar and capacity for 36 at an outdoor open-air patio. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. until midnight, with an after-dinner happy hour starting at 9 p.m. each night. Next time you are in Creston, take a step back in time with a delicious farm fresh dinner and a craft cocktail at Brighton Graye’s.