Miami-inspired restaurant opens in downtown Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new pop-up restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids is bringing guests a taste of the tropics without making the trip to Miami.

La Ventanita opened inside the AC Hotel’s lounge Tuesday, complete with a new outdoor dining area.

The menu includes Spanish- and Latin American-inspired dishes like crispy ham croquetas and a Cuban hamburger with Colombian-style fried potatoes, called frita cubana with papas criollas

An undated photo provided by AC Hotel by Marriott shows the tropical design of the hotel’s pop-up restaurant, La Ventanitas.

Visitors can also sip on Pina Colada Milk Punch, a Smoked Manhattan or a variety of wines.

A company spokesperson says the new dining concept is part of a complete transformation of the hotel’s food and wine program to “enhance its guest experience.”

AC Hotel General Manager Ryan Schmied came up with the idea. A hotel official says Schmied was inspired by ventanitas in Miami, which are walk-up restaurant windows where visitors can order Cuban-style coffee and pastries. The hotel says it is drawing on the same vibe but with better drinks and nicer accommodations, including new sidewalk seating.

La Ventanita ourdoor seating at AC Hotel in Grand Rapids. (Sept. 15, 2020)

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Michigan’s firsts AC Hotel to suspend services on March 25, less than a year after celebrating its grand opening at 50 Monroe Ave. NW. The hotel reopened Aug. 1 with new health and safety protocols, including hand sanitizing stations, enhanced cleaning procedures and air purification systems, and a contactless check-in option.

The hotel’s fitness center also recently reopened as allowed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Visitors to the gym area are asked to wear a mask when they’re not actively working out.