As Executive Director of GRAPE, I make it a point to meet with a variety of people from the Grand Rapids area nearly every day. Not surprisingly, this has necessitated getting to know the best places for casual business meetings. A variety of good places to have “business coffee” exist, but I do have my area favorites. I thought it would be interesting to list them here.



If you want a simple place to have some quiet time, The Lantern Coffee Bar on Commerce provides a cozy basement full of tables – with a few couches as well. Ferris Nut & Coffee near the YMCA is also a great place to chill, especially during the summer months. Both are very popular with Millennials. For scheduling a business coffee that requires more privacy, you would probably go elsewhere, though. My #1 pick for that kind of meeting is The Omelette Shoppe on Michigan Avenue. It has a relaxing setting conducive to having a nice talk. Second place goes to The Kitchen Counter within the Amway Grand. It’s a little pricey, but it’s nice to look out onto the street. The Starbuck Cafe set off the Amway Grand is another great place for a quick meeting during the summer months.  Honorable mention: the Panera Bread at 99 Monroe.


Speaking of Panera Bread, the one on Kalamazoo Ave. is seemingly the place to go for a business meeting on the Southwest side – everyone suggests it. Living on the north side, however, I look for a closer venue and easier accessibility. So my favorite coffee shop is The Bagel Beanery on Clyde Avenue (just north of 56th Street). There are not that many tables to choose from, but it has good coffee, great bagels, and easy access from 131, unlike the Panera suggestion above.  Honorable Mention: Cafe Aromas just north of Hall Street on Grandville Ave. This is a great place for an informal business lunch.


My #1 pick here just might have to be Rowster Coffee. I’ve just discovered and recently met the owner. I was quite impressed by why and how he started the operation. I believe it now replaces my previous first choice of Wealthy Street Bakery. Nonetheless, Wealthy Street Bakery has a variety of food offerings that are still my favorites (including bread pudding!). Unfortunately, neither is easily accessible – though, given the great food and coffee, it’s worth the inconvenience of street driving.


My #1 pick for a business coffee meeting on the Northeast side of town is Tim Horton’s on Plainfield. Their venue is one of my favorites as I love both the coffee and the croissants they sell (I’m not as excited about their donuts). It’s the first place I think of when I need to get out of the house on a Saturday morning. If I come alone, I’m happy to watch the news on their closed-captioned TV.  Honorable Mention: Fat Boy on Plainfield. It’s a long-time favorite with the regulars because of its quiet and laid-back atmosphere.


Story Cafe offers a unique atmosphere in the daytime, and I enjoy the classical music they play in the background. Closer to home for me is Starbucks on Alpine, a place where visitors can easily soak in the sunshine coming in from the windows. On the flip side, the windows remind me of the busy-ness outside, making it a quiet place that doesn’t seem all that quiet. Another choice then would be Panera Bread on Alpine, easily accessible off of I-96.

It’s rather interesting how the design of the city both limits and facilitates access to coffee venues. That’s certainly NOT what must have came to mind when the highways were built. Google “coffee Grand Rapids” for other suggestions and reviews.  Depending on where you’re driving from, accessibility can sometimes be the overriding factor on where to meet.  And given the rise of solo-preneur – who must do his own marketing – recently, such places are becoming crucial to conducting local business.