Campagnia Closes Bistro Is Healthy

January 27, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Campagnia restaurant at Knapp’s Corner on the East Beltline ceased operations yesterday because of what owners call the proliferation of chain restaurants.

The decision came less than a week after Grand Rapids Magazine selected the restaurant as a nominee for its best European restaurant award.

Campagnia, which employed about 40 people, is owned by the same group that owns Bistro Bella Vita restaurant, 44 Grandville Ave., downtown.

James Berg, Bistro’s managing partner, said the firm was trying to transfer as many employees as it could to the Bistro and offered a professional resume workshop to those who could not transfer.

Berg’s company also offered a severance package to all affected employees.

He said business at the downtown restaurant is healthy and that the firm will focus its efforts there while looking for growth in other areas less dominated by chain restaurants.

The downtown restaurant recently developed a new beer garden that Berg said featured 80 brands of imported beer.

He said number of chain restaurants near Knapp’s Corner made it difficult to compete and that Bistro’s owners forecast continued sales and customer base erosion for Campagnia during 2004.

“Campagnia has enjoyed a loyal guest following since we opened in March 2000 when we had limited chain competition,” Berg said.

“It was difficult to make the decision to close when we have such strong support from the community,” he added, referring to the nomination by Grand Rapids Magazine.

He said the company would look at the possibility of selling its Knapp’s Corner property as a package that would include its liquor license and equipment.           

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