Goodbye Aimee

Hello and Happy Wednesday!

Arena District is an intern run organization: in combination with our directors we get work done!

So the time has come for me as an intern, to leave the Arena District. I have just graduated, and will be leaving Grand Rapids for now but no worries I will be back I am sure.

I love this city, I love ArtPrize, I love raspberry beer at Founders, I love East town and Irish on Ionia, and I love crack fries (HopCat, you have me addicted).

From here on out, the blog will be run by our new intern.

They will do a fabulous job keeping you in the loop with us, every Wednesday, as usual!

This post was written by Arena District PR intern, Aimee Ridella


GR’s Big Talent


Come July, Arena District and Cumulus radio will be presenting the 4th annual GR’s Big Talent. Local artists, bands, singers, hoola hoopers, jugglers, and impressionists will be competing to showcase local West Michigan talent in the heart of downtown.

The idea is simple: Have fun and showcase local talent. People of all ages and talents are encouraged to pay the registration fee (opening July 1st) and show us what you’ve got! Performers aim for one of the final 18 spots chosen by local judges as well as the public vote (which allows anyone to attend and participate). In addition, there will be local food and drinks so you can have a bite to eat while being impressed by hidden talent in West Michigan. Those final 18 will have the chance to compete for cash prizes and much more! If you want to come be a part of the event, email us via the GR’s Big Talent website to come help out and join in the fun. Last year, our top three contestants were lucky enough to be chosen to audition in this years America’s Got Talent, an additional “prize” so to speak.

Many of these artists are a part of the DGRI Pop-Up artist program. This is a program that was created to “activate the streets” by encouraging entertainment from local artists chosen by GR residents. But remember, you don’t need to be a part of an organization to par take!

So come jugglers, impressionists, singers and bands to show Grand Rapids your talent! More information regarding auditions is soon to come so start practicing and keeping an eye out now!

This post was written by Arena District PR intern, Aimee Ridella

See GR’s Big Talent on:



Tastes Grand Guide


When visiting the second largest city in Michigan, where to eat becomes a huge ordeal. Mix in a group of friends who cannot agree on where to eat, and it only gets more complicated. Heck, I live here and I have a hard time choosing a restaurant! That’s why we have come up with the “Tastes Grand Guide.”

Grand Rapids was recently named by Groupon as the number one place to visit in 2015 (Larsen, 2015). A main reason? Breweries. As we all know, this is Beer City USA: home to many craft breweries. What else pulls in tourists as well as interests locals? Grand Rapids offers a spin on art (Art Prize: an event that I will make sure to attend even once I graduate!) and the close by beaches: the perfect mix of city and sand (Larsen, 2015).

Grand Rapids has dining options from local breweries, sushi, coffee shops, and sandwiches. You name it and there is a choice for you (overwhelming choices right? Good problem to have!). That is why Arena District has decided to create the Tastes Grand Guide: the ultimate guide to dining downtown. Each page in this booklet details restaurant profiles, helping you make the perfect dinner choice. You can soon pick up your copy for free (yes free, I repeat free!- Free if you want to be a distributor as well!) at Hotels, Restaurants, Cultural Centers, Chamber of Commerce, Real-estate and Relocation Offices, Professional Offices, Apartment and Condo Complexes.

I have lived here for four years now and have not even been to a fraction of the restaurants here, the Tastes Grand Guide is like a tour guide for your taste buds. Pick one up and check off restaurants as you try them!

This post was written by Arena District PR intern, Aimee Ridella

Larsen, J. (2015, March 2). Top 15 places to visit in the United States in 2015. Groupon. Retrieved from:

The Weekly Beat and Our Website!


So you already know who we are as interns and directors (check out our post All About Us!) Now let’s talk what Arena District is. What does that even mean? Why did we all chose to be a part of it?

Grand Rapids is a rapidly growing city. (See that play on words that I did there?) It is important that as the city grows, we grow together! Our mission states: “The Arena District is a non-profit organization that seeks to build community between the distinctive restaurants and cultural centers of downtown Grand Rapids. We strive to be the all-encompassing resource to connect people with the excitement of Beer City USA and a source of encouragement for collective growth.” In support of our mission Arena District is always forming new and innovative ways to include GR’s downtown community.

Next up is our website—newly designed and cleaned up for spring. Utilize our site to assist in connecting you with places to be in downtown! We have pages for our members: which includes times they are open, specials, their social media— basically anything and everything you would want to know about them in one nifty place.

Our events page displays our upcoming events like GRs Big Talent (remember how our top three finalists went on to the auditions in Chicago for America’s Got Talent a few month ago?!) and is in the process of being updated with more events.

For those who do not have as much time to take a gander at our website, we have the Weekly Beat. It is sent out bi-weekly and shows what is going on downtown! You can click from email to events that are featured downtown and how to be a part of it.


See us on social media:





This post was written by Arena District PR intern, Aimee Ridella

Member Spotlight: Buffalo Wild Wings


Tis the season for March Madness. Yes, basketballs can be seen twinkling in the eyes of eager fans constantly bragging—or tearing up—over their bracket this year. For fans looking for good beer and good food while cheering on their team, there is Buffalo Wild Wings on Ionia street: Two floors (patios included) with sports, beer, and food!

Even if you did not set up a bracket, you can still join in to watch friends react to the games and eat appetizers with the group. But if you want to be extra engaged in the madness- Bdubs has you covered. Their ‘Tourney Tracker” website shows upcoming games and lets you keep up on scores at all times (Buffalo Wild, c, n.d.). Download the Bdubs Game Break app and answer game-related questions (posted every five minutes) for the chance to win Bdubs gift cards from 5-1,000 dollars, depending on your knowledge and luck (Buffalo Wild, c, n.d.).

Open 11am-2am, you can always go in for craft and domestic beers or a variety of food choices to satisfy any cravings (Buffalo Wild, b, n.d). Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 3-6pm or for the night owls out there, late night happy hour is Sunday-Friday 9pm-2am (Arena District, n.d). The menu includes salads, wraps, sharables (including my beloved mozzarella sticks which I will not be sharing even though deemed ‘sharable’…) and wings with sauces like: Medium, Thai Curry, Teriyaki, Mango Habanero- the list goes on (Buffalo Wild, b, n.d). Pair any of those with ranch and you have a solid meal, but then again most foods really are amazing with ranch!

Buffalo Wild Wings is the destination for fans of basketball, beer, or in my case mozzarella sticks. Join in the fun on Ionia street and see for yourself!


This post was written by Arena District PR intern, Aimee Ridella


See Buffalo Wild Wings on Facebook

Arena District GR (n.d). Members, Buffalo Wild Wings. Web. Retrieved from:

Bdubs Game Break (n/d). Bdus game break. Web. Retrieved from:

Buffalo Wild Wings (a) (n.d). Facebook, homepage Web. Retrieved from:

Buffalo Wild Wings (b) (n.d). Menu page. Web. Retrieved from:

Buffalo Wild Wings (c) (n.d). Tournament tracker.Web. Retrieved from:

Member Spotlight: J. Gardella’s


After a Grand Rapids Griffins game, wandering Ionia street on a Friday, or looking for a place to have a drink with friends, perhaps you should swing into J. Gardella’s on Ionia street. Once an old warehouse, J. Gardella’s has transformed into a three level bar and restaurant, offering patrons a unique décor and atmosphere on the basement level, main bar and upstairs (J. Gardella’s a, n.d.). J. Gardella’s menu is very reasonably priced, with all options being under 15 dollars—making it the perfect lunch spot! Your 15 dollar price cap on a meal might go up just a little if you choose to include alcohol, but never fear there are specials for even the most frugal of us.

Monday-Friday is happy hour from 3-7pm (a whole four hours—that’s fantastic!) for $2 pints, $3 Michigan handcrafted drinks, and $3 wine. Each day of the week there are different specials besides just happy hours: Monday is “Get canned” ($.25 cheddar pretzels plus $2 PBR, High life, Rolling Rock cans and more), Tuesday is “Cheeseburger in Beer-adise” (a burger and a beer for $5), Wednesday is “The original ½ off Wednesday” (1/2 off drinks and special $4 menu), Thursday if “Calling all hors d’oeuvre-ivores”—the most clever tongue twister they have to offer— as well as a night of all appetizers costing $5 (J.Gardella’s c, n.d.).

Gardella’s offers a wide variety of drinks, many of which have been given fantastic names such as My Dirty Valentine, Farmers Marketini, and One Legged Lesbian Kick Boxer. What exactly is a One Legged Lesbian Kick Boxer you may ask? It includes Sobieski Orange, Sobieski Strawberry, with black raspberry, peach and melon liquors, sour mix, cranberry and sprite. Whoa (J. Gardellas, b, n.d.).

So if you find yourself looking for a bargain on food, trying to get some cardio walking up the three levels, or you want to try the One Legged Lesbian Kick Boxer you now know where to look in Grand Rapids: J. Gardella’s.


This post was written by Arena District PR intern, Aimee Ridella

Check out J. Gardella’s on Facebook

Gardella’s (a) (n.d.). Web page, home. Retrieved from:

Gardella’s (b) (n.d). Web page, Drinks Menu, Retrieved from:

Gardella’s (c) (n.d). Web page, Specials and Events. Retrieved from:

Member Spotlight: CityFlatsHotel

CitySen Lounge Bar-2

Being the first LEED hotel (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in the Midwest City Flats Hotel in Grand Rapids is setting new standards for environmentally friendly hotel visits! (U.S. Green Building Council, 2015 and CityFlats, a, 2015). Green materials as well as new technologies meet to bring guests the satisfaction of knowing that their hotel is part of protecting the world we live in. This includes: cork floors, bamboo linens, low-flow faucets, low-VOC paint, as well as many recycled products and much more (CityFlats, a, 2015).

While staying at CityFlats, the hotel restaurant CitySen Lounge is available for all meals, specializing in locally-sourced ingredients (CityFlats, c, 2015). Breakfast ranges from strawberry waffles to blueberry pancakes while lounge foods the rest of the day include kale chips and tenderloin sliders. If you are feeling exceptionally indulgent, add on dessert such as carrot cake or cookie dough sundae (If it involves cookie dough I am sold already). Happy hour is every day from 4-7pm, enjoy wine for $4, well drinks for $4.50, domestic beers at $3, 12oz drafts for $3.50 and 23oz drafts for $6. Pair with Bruschetta or Truffle fries and your evening is set (CityFlats, c, 2015)!

CityFlats also can accommodate up to 200 people in their ballroom for weddings and any other special events you can think of, all while being as environmentally friendly as possible (CityFlats, b, 2015).

Coming up March 28th, CityFlats is pairing with Short’s Brewing Company for a 4-course beer dinner. Beers are to be specially paired with each course for the perfect combination, for only $40 dollars for an evening of taste bud happiness (CityFlats, c, 2015)!

April 5th brings us to Easter Brunch at the hotel from 11am-2pm in the beautiful ballroom. There will be an omelet station, waffle bar, mini crab cakes, breakfast potatoes, smoked salmon, kale salad, mini cannolo, cheesecake and much more to choose from all day long. Make sure to bring the whole family and a good appetite (CityFlats, d, 2015).

The CityFlatsHotel not only specializes in being LEED certified, but in an over-all exceptional guest experience. Find CityFlats on:







This post was written by Arena District PR intern, Aimee Ridella


City Fats Hotel (a) (2015). About. Web. Retrieved from:

City Flats Hotel (b) (2015) Gatherings, Ballroom. Web. Retrieved from:

City Flats Hotel (c) (2015). Bar and Bistro, City Sen Lounge. Web. Retrieved from:

City Flats Hotel (d) (2015). Offers and Events. Web. Retrieved from:

U.S. Green Building Council (2015). Leed. Web. Retrieved from: