Doug and Paul Lee’s dramatic transformation of a long-vacant, 157-year-old building on Cascade Road SE into the gleaming new Jam ’n’ Bean coffeehouse with an elevated, outdoor concert deck seems impressive in its own right.
But the brothers’ mission for the cafe and 200-seat “Cascade on the Boardwalk” entertainment deck may be just as extraordinary: 10 percent of proceeds from Jam ’n’ Bean go to support the Forest Hills Central Band Boosters to help bolster struggling school band programs.
And just as important, the coffeehouse and 3,000-square-foot deck have become a rallying point of sorts for the Forest Hills community, with young high school rock bands joining other local musicians in getting a chance to strut their stuff for audiences, often for the first time.
“People are star-struck by it,” co-owner Doug Lee says of the lighted deck and stage, which officially opened in June behind the coffeehouse at 6860 Cascade Road SE, just south of Old 28th Street SE. “It’s sort of re-generated and revitalized things. … It’s a beautiful environment in the woods.”
Balwinder Bal, owner of Radix Tavern and Bombay Cuisine, has gone back to his roots, both literally and figuratively. A food man at heart, Bal has transformed the Bombay adjacent Queen’s Pub into a new concept – the Radix Tavern. Radix, a southern-style eatery whose name means “root” in Latin, celebrates its grand opening August 3 and 4. It will focus more on farm fresh food, while still offering craft beer and cocktails with a southern twist.
To hear longtime concert promoter David Deaver tell it, the Cowpie Music Festival is “a unique celebration of mostly local and regional musicians on 160 beautiful acres of pure Michigan farmland.”
Veteran Grand Rapids singer and stand-up bassist Delilah DeWylde, who played the festival last year with her band, the Lost Boys, puts it this way: “The environment is very friendly, laid-back and fun.”
Once touted as a purely blues event staged “on a working cattle farm” near the community of Alaska in rural southern Kent County, this year’s retitled Cowpie Music Festival on Aug. 10-11 has been revamped considerably by expanding the musical genres covered by a larger number of artists performing on two stages over two days.
A new local magazine devoted to professional and influential women is ready to make its print debut. 'West Michigan Woman' celebrated its soft launch online in January and will begin mailing issues to subscribers in August. Every other month, the publication will cover topics related to wellness, careers, family, style, finance and more, as well as profiling a prominent local woman in each issue.
The idea is the brainchild of Grand Rapids-based Serendipity Media, LLC, a company that has focused on printing national magazines for the last ten years. "We do national tourism publications, association work, and specialty publications. The one thing we hadn’t done was a local magazine," said Serendipity publisher Kasie Smith. "Women today are empowered by connecting with other like-minded women, but often connecting with them is the challenge. The goal of West Michigan Woman magazine is to be a publication that provides local, timely, and relevant content to professional and influential women in our community, and include personal stories from other women in West Michigan."