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Uptown Updates, Fall 2020 Newsletter

Welcome to Uptown Updates, our first ever newsletter created just for you. Each season we look forward to sharing our latest news and happenings and to giving you a first look at some of the cool things our district has planned for the months ahead. If you’ve signed up to be a part of our mailing list, we know it is because you place value on supporting communities like ours and the local businesses who call us home. That support has always been deeply appreciated, but now more than ever, we want to say a very sincere THANK YOU. As you know, 2020 has brought with it some rather unprecedented challenges that have made “business as usual” not so, well, usual. That we continue to flourish and thrive despite it all, is due to you.  We’re grateful for your presence and patronage, and we look forward to showing you our gratitude by continuing to offer you brag-worthy visits that you’ll want to experience again and again. To a beautiful fall season ahead!


Ingrid Miller
Executive Director
Uptown GR, Inc


Uptown GR is comprised of four unique business districts located just east of the heart of Downtown Grand Rapids. Those districts are Eastown, East Hills, Wealthy Street, and East Fulton. All four districts are walkable and packed with locally owned businesses to suit your every mood. We have specialty stores and retail offerings, dining, drinking, nightlife and entertainment, and a wide roster of service-based businesses as well. Our collective mission is to support and sustain a strong and vibrant urban district for visitors, residents, and volunteers. 

For further color on just who Uptown is, we encourage you to visit our newly updated website.  We’ve geared the site to be a useful tool for learning about the district and in planning your next visit. In addition to the map pictured above, you’ll find an interactive business directory, suggestions for ways to enjoy the district’s public art and greenspaces, a regularly-updated blog that covers pertinent Uptown topics, helpful info about how to find us and where to park, and so much more.


2020 has had a pretty cool share of “wins” for our district thus far (and we’re not even done yet!) – and we’d like to share about some of those with you:

In collaboration with our various business associations and the City of GR, Uptown has committed to four total social zones to be added to various points throughout our district. These zones will be offered as outdoor seating space to any and all patrons of our area businesses. Our goal is to encourage you to enjoy our district and its many offerings in a way that allows for appropriate social distancing during this time of COVID-19. Furnishings have been constructed by volunteers from both Uptown GR, Inc., and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, and materials needed were in large part due to donations from Kamps Pallets and Orion Construction (with furnishing design supplied by Tim Johnson of Artisan Builders). We’re immensely grateful for the group efforts made to be able to add these zones to our district. The zones are being implemented currently and should be ready for you to enjoy by mid-September!


Local publication Revue WM has once again completed their ever-popular “Best of the West” competition, in which the public is able to submit votes for their very favorite West Michigan businesses in a variety of categories that include Drinking+Dining, Shopping, Nightlife+Activities, Services+People, and more. As our district has grown so has our list of winners and finalists in this annual contest, and this year we’re able to boast an unprecedented fifty-six finalists and fifteen first place winners.  We’re so proud! We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Revue’s Managing Editor to get all of the inside scoop about this contest – its history and more. To check that out, as well as scope the list of our 2020 winners, head to our most recent blog post here.


As we go forward, we’ll be sure to let you know on a regular basis about all the newcomers to our Uptown business roster.  For this, our inaugural newsletter, we thought we’d give a shout-out to all businesses who have joined us within the last year. Even considering the economic challenges that many industries have faced this year, Uptown is proud to say that we’ve had no shortage of fresh, cool, new spots for you to visit and enjoy. Check it out – and hey, tell them ‘welcome’, when you stop by. They’ll be so glad to have you!

Amethyst Bee Cakery
Enchanted NestFreshwater Whale
Luxe Nail Spa
Post Off
Psycle Sams Glass Shop
Speciation Ales
Virago Salon + Beauty ApothecaryWing Heaven
Please note: In addition to these links, you can always look for information on ALL of our Uptown businesses, on our online directory here. 

Uptown puts great effort towards being an easily navigable and accessible place to live and visit. This graphic illustrates some quick stats on the various ways we have strived to make your time spent in our district seamless and convenient. 

Meanwhile, we’re always looking for ways to improve. In this spirit we are very excited for the reopening of Lake Drive after a full overhaul between Glenwood and Atlas Streets, located in Eastown. The project began mid-month and is slated to be completed in late September. While the project means for some very short-term closures for construction, we think you’ll be pleased with the results. The project’s goals are to add a dedicated bike lane (Uptown loves our cyclists!), sidewalk bulb-outs for increased pedestrian safety, and various beautification efforts such as new curbs and refreshed landscaping. It’ll soon be even prettier and more fun, to walk or bike here. 

Throughout the remainder of this project, we would like to remind you that the Eastown businesses located along this stretch remain open and ready to serve you. 


It’s hard to believe, but once again, another gorgeous Michigan summer will begin to draw to a close very soon giving way to crisper (though no less lovely) fall days. As we transition into the autumn season, know that Uptown has you covered for fall-time fun. Brunches and beers on our many restaurant patios (WinchesterTerra and more), visits to Cherry Park with the kids, and lazy summer sidewalk sales (Iris BoutiqueLee&Birch, and more) slowly become comfort-food dinners and hot teas and toddies indoors (Matchbox DinerGlobal InfusionBrewery Vivant and more) taking in a show at Wealthy Street Theatre, and stocking up on goodies to cozy up your nest with (give us all the cinnamon-scented candles please and thanks – The Counting HouseYT Galleria, and more). 

In addition to the tons of things to do and see anytime you swing through, we’ve got a few special fun things planned as well, courtesy of the various businesses listed.  For more information about these events and others, as it becomes available, keep an eye on our social media channels – both IG and FB Events page are the best spots to scope regularly, for things to do in Uptown:

  • Uptown Public Art Installation Days – Come watch the installation of a host of murals and artworks being installed LIVE throughout the district, by local artists, beginning early September. FB event forthcoming, watch our page!

**AND – Please be on the lookout for information in the coming months about our annual December Shop Hop event! 


We’d like to share with you a new venture  that we have begun in Uptown:  The formation of a working group that will be dedicated to justice, diversity, equity and inclusion in our district. Our mission as a non-profit organization is first and foremost to support our local businesses, and by extension, you, our patrons and visitors. We believe that the formation of this group and the improvements that we hope to produce, will be one of the ways in which we can do this. 

While Uptown, from its inception, has strived to be a place of diversity and inclusion for all, recent events have caused us to take a deeper look at society’s failure to make the promise of racial justice a reality, and as part of society, this includes us. We are committed to improvement:  To educate ourselves, to better see the problems our city faces, to learn how we may have contributed to these problems and how we can change to be an even more equity-focused, anti-racist organization, and district, in the future. 

We’re not there yet. We’re just in the beginning stages of figuring out what to do. But we’re committed to moving forward and making progress. If you’re interested in this venture at all, we’d love your input.

That leads us to our next topic…..


Believe it or not, almost all of Uptown GR, Inc., is comprised of VOLUNTEERS. Can you believe it? Sometimes we can hardly believe it ourselves (we get a lot done!). But, for as much dedication as it can sometimes take, it’s worth it:  Being a part of Uptown is a lot of things – committed work, important work, and best of all, it’s FUN. 

Want to get to know your community better, and get involved, too? We’d love to have you. Whether as a participant on one of our various committees (just like the DE&I sub-committee we just described above), or lending a hand for an event or effort, the more truly becomes the merrier here. Start by scoping this page, and then if you’d like, submit your information with perhaps what your areas of interest or strength are (or not!), and we’ll be in touch soon.