New eatery strives for ‘northern hospitality’
Noco Provisions slated to open late July at Cascade corner that once housed Forest Hills Inn.
The former Forest Hills Inn corner has a new restaurant.
Noco Provisions is slated to open in July on the corner of Forest Hill Avenue and Cascade Road in the renovated building that once housed Forest Hills Inn, 4609 Cascade Road SE, which closed May 2016.
The new restaurant was announced last week by the team putting the restaurant together, including Head Chef Adam Watts and General Manager Patrick Kneese.
The complete renovation of the building includes a new bar, patio and private dining area for Noco Provisions, which will provide “elevated twists on regional comfort classics with a distinct, approachable atmosphere.” Construction started this winter and will finish up at the end of June, with an opening expected in late July. Noco Provisions currently is hiring staff.
The space will set the scene for a “focus on northern hospitality.”
The setting comes from the desire to make it a welcoming place. The provisions portion of the name will be fulfilled by the ability for customers to buy ingredients and use them in meals and cocktails at home.
“Northern comfort is inspired by the graciousness and hospitality that is embedded in the West Michigan culture,” Kneese said. “We want to translate that unconditional hospitality through the feeling of the space, the presentation of the cuisine and deliver the bounty of this region to our guests.”
Kneese is from the Midwest and has 20 years of restaurant experience, recently spending 10 years at Lola Coastal Mexican in Denver. The restaurant was named among the “Top 5 Places to Drink Tequila in North America,” and he was nominated for Best Manager in Denver by DiningOut magazine.
Watts, who returned to Grand Rapids in 2012, helped launch the food program at Grand Rapids Brewing Co. in 2012 as executive chef and was the head chef at Slows Bar BQ in the Downtown Market from its opening in July 2015 until April. He also spent time as a chef in Scotland; Oakhurst, California; and Boulder, Colorado.
Watt designed the menu for Noco Provisions.
His menu will include salads, fried chicken, fresh fish and weekend brunch. On the bar side, Noco Provisions will have 24 rotating taps, along with a wine and cocktail program. The cocktails will include barrel-aged cocktails and house infusions.
“The menu and ambiance is designed to be comfortable for people, so our guests can easily find themselves sharing meals among neighbors and friends, and they’ll be doing that in a vibrant, yet causal environment,” Watts said. “We want to be sure everyone can relax here and find something they love.”
When Forest Hills Inn closed last year, there was a void left on the corner, which since the 1970s provided a community center for residents to stop and eat while enjoying conversation with their neighbors.
Following the closure last year, former owner Restaurant Partners potentially was going to refresh the concept and reopen, according to the Business Journal’s report last year. The company then sold the site, choosing to focus on its operations elsewhere, including the acquisition of Rockwell Republic. At the time of the sale, the new owners remained anonymous.
"We have a lot of irons in the fire," Restaurant Partners owner Jeff Lobdell said at the time. "We're on the move — and growing and developing a new concept at an existing location just wasn't in the cards.
"It was a win-win to accept the offer."
Noco Provisions hopes to fill the void left by Forest Hills Inn’s closure, and the restaurant also plans to offer catering services.
“Noco will be a community-centered, neighborhood restaurant, that is a comfortable destination for everyone, for family night and business lunches, to a girls’ night out, happy hour or couples on a date,” Kneese said. “We approach every aspect of our concept, from the food, the knowledge of our team and our extremely qualified mixology staff, on the idea of gracious service and authenticity.”