City OKs zoning for new Arnies

February 19, 2011
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The Fahlen family plans to build two new restaurants and open both within a year. One will serve as the company’s flagship eatery, while the other will bring back a popular eating spot on the city’s west side that was destroyed by fire almost two years ago.

Grand Rapids city commissioners granted the Fahlens a zoning change last week that allows them to begin construction on a new Arnie’s Restaurant and Bakery at 1999 East Beltline Ave. NE, near the Knapp’s Corner Meijer store. The restaurant will share parking spaces with the retailer.

“I think it’s a good project,” said Commissioner James White.

The East Beltline Arnie’s will serve as the flagship restaurant. It will seat 200 in the dining area with another 100 seats in a casual dining section, and also will offer outdoor seating during warm-weather months. The restaurant also will offer a drive-thru lane and a banquet facility.

“I’m really pleased with the design they’ve used here,” said Mayor George Heartwell.

“I appreciate the amount of modifications that were made,” said Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss.

Bliss was talking about the wetlands located on a portion of the building site. Changes had to be made to the design to ensure that the wetlands wouldn’t be destroyed, and any runoff from stormwater would be properly managed. “We have a buffer around the wetlands to protect them,” said City Planning Director Suzanne Schulz. “I think Arnie’s has been a great partner.”

The Fahlens hope to open the flagship Arnie’s at the end of the year or in early 2012. Construction could begin this summer and should take about eight months to complete.

The west side Arnie’s Restaurant and Bakery will go up on the previous eatery’s site at 710 Leonard St. NW, at the corner of Leonard and Davis Avenue. The Fahlen family reportedly will invest $500,000 in the project, which will include the firm’s existing headquarters in the design. They hope to open the 7,600-square-foot restaurant, which will seat 150, this summer. Work is expected to begin in a few months.

Like the East Beltline Arnie’s, the Fahlens hope to add a drive-thru lane and carry-out window to the Leonard restaurant. City approval, beginning with the Planning Commission, is needed for that. The site is 1.5 acres.

Mark Tomasik of Innovative Design PC is designing both restaurants. The family also owns and operates restaurants in Centerpointe Mall, on Squire Street in Rockford, and on 54th Street in Wyoming. Arnie’s Bakery is at 815 Leonard St. NW.

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