New ghost restaurant ‘Li Grand Zombi’ now open in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new ghost restaurant is bringing more Creole cuisine to Grand Rapids.

Li Grand Zombi opened inside the kitchen of City Built Brewing Company last week with one dish: red beans and rice, house-made andouille sausage, fried okra and cornbread with honey-serrano butter.

(An undated photo provided by City Built Brewing Company’s Li Grand Zombi shows the andouille sausage meal the ghost restaurant offered during its second week of business.)

This week’s single-dish menu is Parmesan grit cakes with Creole marinated grilled shrimp topped with smoked tomato jus. It’s served with fried okra, remoulade and cornbread with honey-garlic Serrano butter.

(An undated photo provided by City Built Brewing Company’s Li Grand Zombi shows the shrimp dish the ghost restaurant offered during its second week of business.)

Every week will bring a new Southern-inspired meal that’s available only by pickup or delivery through Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats.

“It’s a good way to take a walk down a Creole food road just by visiting us on a weekly basis,” said Edwin Collazo, CEO and founder of City Built Brewing.

Each meal ranges from $18 to $22 and can feed two people, according to Collazo.

BRINGING NEW ORLEANS TO GRAND RAPIDS

Li Grand Zombi is among several ghost restaurants that have popped up in Grand Rapids since the COVID-19 pandemic started. While most owners opened their ghost restaurants to help drum up business during the dine-in ban, the majority plan to keep their ghost restaurants running for the foreseeable future.

Li Grand Zombi’s name is a mix of its hometown, inspiration and purpose.

“We were joking about having a zombie kitchen instead of a ghost kitchen, and then that name popped out,” Collazo explained.

He said the idea for Li Grand Zombi came from the brewery’s chef after a recent trip to New Orleans.

“This is something that he’s been studying and working on for a long time, but (the) chance to go down there and taste all the food definitely helped push his curiosity a little bit more,” Collazo said.

Li Grand Zombi builds on the food experience City Built offered before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it trim its menu and lunch hours. City Built also had to scale back its staff from about 48 employees down to about five during the shutdown. Its workforce now stands at roughly 15.

“This was our hope to keep our kitchen staff engaged and still be able to create while we also take inventory on the fact that our numbers aren’t what they used to be,” Collazo explained.

“I think it’s been pretty good. People are showing up. Our numbers are not what they were, but we’re trending in that (upward) direction,” he added.

CITY BUILT’S BEER BOOM

Li Grand Zombi will remain open at least through this summer, according to Collazo. He said customers will also eventually be able to add beer to their delivery order, but right now City Built is trying to keep up with taproom and to-go demand.

“Our beer sales have gone up significantly since the whole COVID thing,” said Collazo.

“Good times, you want a beer. Bad times, you want two beers,” he added.

Li Grand Zombi is open for takeout and delivery Thursday 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.