Breaking Bread

October 22, 2004
Print
Text Size:
A A

Passing the salt took on a whole new meaning on a recent Saturday as 8,000 sat down for dinner at the same time in DeVos Place, even though the building’s kitchen and banquet hall won’t be finished for three more months.

The eating event, of course, was the largest of its kind for the convention center, which opened last December.

“Dinner for 8,000 was quite a sight to see,” said JimWatt, operations director for SMG, the firm that manages

DeVos Place
and the Van Andel Arena.

A Right To Life banquet and a get-together put together by Amway accounted for the massive number of diners. Luckily, each event had the same menu except for dessert. Tables were set up in the meeting rooms and throughout much of the exhibit space the building offers.

Four hundred servers poured from 900 coffee pots and laid out more than 30,000 knives, forks and spoons that evening. All the food was prepared at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

Watt told members of the Convention and Arena Authority that it would take two days just to wash the dishes and that 400 tables had to be rented for the evening.

Even with that crowd, though, SMG general manager RichMacKeigan said many more could have been served in the building. He estimated another 2,000 could have dined in the exhibit space had it been arranged differently and 3,000 more could have done the same in the banquet room, which will also double as a ballroom next year. And the Grand Gallery could have been turned into a dining area, too.

The grand total? About 15,000 could break bread at the same time in

DeVos Place

“I am comfortable that we could feed 15,000 there at one time,” said MacKeigan. “Everyone was anxious, but (the dinners) went extremely well.”

  • CalvinCollege is bringing another world-class exhibit to Grand Rapids

After playing a major part in attracting the Grand RapidsPublicMuseum’s Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, the college will host Petra: Lost City of Stone.

The most comprehensive exhibition ever presented on the ancient Middle Eastern city that was central to the rise of early Christianity, the exhibit will be hosted at Calvin’s PrinceConferenceCenter from April 4-Aug. 15, 2005.

Petra opened in New York City in October 2003 for a nine-month showing and has since traveled to Cincinnati where it will remain until January.

The first major cultural collaboration between Jordan and the United States, it was organized by the Cincinnati Art Museum and the American Museum of Natural History in New York under the patronage of Queen RaniaAlAbdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.


Highlights of the exhibition include the monumental bust of Dushara, on public display outside Jordan for the first time, and a marble Byzantine church pulpit unearthed by Grand Rapids-based archaeologist and Calvin graduate NealBierling


Calvin will be one of only five North American venues to host the exhibit.

“This is a great fit with Calvin’s educational mission and with our fast-expanding international involvement,” Calvin President GaylenByker said. “This is a world-class exhibit and the opportunity to present it to the people of Grand Rapids was one we felt we had to take. It’s a singular opportunity for the community.”

The 7,000-square-foot exhibit will require significant modifications at the two-year-old PrinceConferenceCenter at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars.

  • It’s been 30 years since this week’s Inside Track profile, Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids CEO PhilWeaver, suited up at NorthernMichiganUniversity alongside current MSU basketball coach TomIzzo, but Weaver still has at least some of his game left.

This past summer, Weaver teamed up with TerryMulvihill, BruceTacoma and JohnSperla (an attorney with Mika Meyers Beckett & Jones who still holds MHSAA tournament scoring records from 1968) to win the Michigan Senior Olympics basketball tourney in the 50-54 age bracket.

“I’m not as good as I used to be,” Weaver said. “But it sure beats running out there on the street.”

The Antiquated Hoopsters will have the opportunity to bring home the national crown next June at the 2005 National Senior Olympics.

Weaver’s three sons have all become basketball stars in their own rights, with one playing until recently at AquinasCollege, another at CornerstoneUniversity, and his youngest for wheelchair team the Grand Rapids Eagles.

  • For those going through withdrawal without the National Hockey League, take heart. A group of talented skaters will be invading Van Andel Arena in 2006.

The U.S. Synchronized Team Skating Championships is coming to GR Feb. 21-26. OK, it’s not on the same level as, say, StevieYzerman or CurtisJoseph, but here’s the reason the CVB’s SteveWilson will be just as happy: The event is expected to bring more than 2,000 skaters and 3,000 managers, officials, family members and spectators to Grand Rapids.

“This is a great opportunity for the city of Grand Rapids,” said BrianHire, assistant chair of the event. “It gives us a chance to show what excellent hosts we can be for world-class competitions.”

The event, which actually was awarded to the Detroit Metro Council of Skating Clubs, is a collaboration between that body, the Greater Grand Rapids Figure Skating Club, the CVB and the arena. More than 100 teams of 12 to 20 skaters are expected to compete, with the winners representing the United States in the World Synchronized Team Skating Championships.

  • Ever wonder what happened to the Hillman Commission? Well, Judge DouglasHillman and the gang are reuniting from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 27, at the Press Club (inside the University Club inside the FifthThirdBankBuilding). But they won’t just be rehashing old (Butterworth-Blodgett merger) times. They’ll be hearing reports from the local hospitals and taking part in a question-and-answer session.

There’s no charge for the event, which is sponsored by Grand Rapids Business Journal and hosted by the Alliance for Health.     

Recent Articles by Business Journal Staff

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus