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Parklets get ready to pop up for BarFly patrons

BarFly Ventures is the first to inaugurate the parklet program in Downtown Grand Rapids, turning just five parking spots into seating for a total of 90 people.
GRBC parklet

GRBC parklet /Eric Tank

Underwriting support from:


Stella's Lounge

53 Commerce Avenue SW

McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon

58 Ionia Avenue SW

Grand Rapids Brewing Company

1 Ionia Avenue SW

McFadden's parklet

McFadden's parklet /Eric Tank

Stella's parklet

Stella's parklet /Eric Tank

BarFly Ventures' new "parklets" in front of three downtown businesses will soon be open to patrons. The parklets are located at Stella's Lounge, McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon and Grand Rapids Brewing Company (GRBC). Each parklet seats up to approximately 30 people. 

The parklets allows for the temporary structures to operate on a seasonal basis in street parking spots. This new feature is available as a result of an amendment made back in January to the Downtown Developement Authority's Streetscape program. 

As the parklet trend in cities like San Francisco, Chicago and New York continues to be successful, Grand Rapids has taken cue. In May, the City approached BarFly Ventures with the prospect of erecting the spaces. 

Garry Boyde, Managing Partner at BarFly, applied for the parklets to be utilized as outdoor seating for the restaurants, which restricts usage to patrons only. Boyde obtained letters of support from neighboring businesses and says that reception of the project has been mainly positive. Some concerns have been raised over the amount of parking spaces used, but Boyde explains that they are only using a total of four parking spots for the three locations. GRBC occupies two parking spaces while both McFadden's and Stella's each uses one. BarFly pays for the daily rates.

"I'm hoping that more places do this, [so they can] get more outdoor seating, get more people. It's a beautiful city. We have great weather in the summer [and we have] a lot of great dining spots, a lot of great coffee shops, lot of great breweries. I really hope that people take advantage of it," says Boyde.

Upkeep and maintenance is the responsibility of BarFly. Boyde says they are still exploring options on whether to store seating and tables indoors on a nightly basis or whether to chain them up, which is more typical for outdoor and patio seating.  

"We'll be responsible for the upkeep. We'll be responsible for keeping them clean and their safety," says Boyde. 

The relatively novel project has some people concerned about the saftey of dining on a busy urban street.  

"Once people get on them, [they'll] realize they're not out in the middle of the street - that we've put some thought into where these things are. We put a lot of consideration into making sure that they are extrememly safe and that it was not a potential hazard for someone to come up and run a car into it," says Boyde.

The City of Grand Rapids has been instrumental in establishing eligibility for the parklets to operate and welcomes public parklets as well as dining. 

"I can't say enough about how helpful the city has been in this whole thing. They gave us a good idea, gave really good instuctions in what they needed done," says Boyde. "I'm hoping to see more of these things around the neighborhood. They'll be cool little spots. I'd like to see some non-dining ones put out there by some fun individuals."

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