Local Eats: Choo Choo Grill in Grand Rapids serves great burgers in a friendly atmosphere
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – If you’re looking for a good burger, head to the Choo Choo Grill in Grand Rapids, where owner Rick Mack has been serving cheese burgers, onion rings, malts and more for over two decades. .
Inside the cozy restaurant, 1209 Plainfield Ave NE, you’ll find popular items like the Red Caboose, a deluxe half-pound cheeseburger served with steak fries for $ 9.49. Or, if you’re really hungry, there’s The Legend: a deluxe one-pound cheeseburger for $ 11.99.
“Our meat is delivered daily by Tolman’s Meats,” Mack said. “It’s never frozen. It’s always fresh.
The Choo Choo Grill has been in operation since 1946 and serves breakfast and lunch. Mack has co-owned the grill with his wife, Darcie, for 23 years. Before that, his stepfather bought the restaurant in 1957, the year Mack’s wife was born.
The restaurant has a dining atmosphere, with a lunch counter, a few kiosks, and it can seat around 21 people. Mack said there was a “wide range” of clientele, from “hard working everyday guys to lawyers and judges.”
“It’s a real melting pot of all of Grand Rapids culture,” he said.
In addition to burgers, Choo Choo offers an extensive lunch menu, with items such as a meatloaf sandwich, tuna fondue, grilled cheese, fries, onion rings, a salad of tacos, etc. It also offers chocolate or peanut butter malts, root beer floats, soft drinks, coffee and milk. These are third-pound sandwiches and burgers under $ 10.
It also offers breakfast.
Mack said a popular breakfast item is the Brakeman, which includes two eggs, meat, American fries and toast for $ 7.09. Firefighter is also a popular dish. It includes three eggs, American fries, two slices of bacon, a sausage, half a slice of ham, and toast for $ 7.99.
Customers can also order oatmeal, omelets, cinnamon raisin French toast, and more.
“It’s like nowhere you’ve been,” Mack said of the Choo Choo. “I’ve been to a lot of restaurants in my life and there are very few across the country I’ve been to that look like this. The atmosphere is similar to that of a “Cheers” (TV show in a bar and restaurant) where you have quite a few regulars and a lot of people know each other.
Like many restaurants, Choo Choo has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Food service in Michigan restaurants was temporarily suspended on March 16 by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. In June, bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen for indoor and outdoor dining at 50% capacity.
“We’re still waiting for the new normal, whatever it is when it’s all over,” Mack said, noting that activity is down 30% to 35% from pre-pandemic levels. “But I don’t think it will ever be like before.”
He added: “We are surviving well. This is due to many of our regulars and some of the new ones who love us and keep coming back.
“We’re plugged in, we’re making a living and we’re doing our best.”
The Choo Choo Grill is open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, and closed Sunday. The restaurant can be reached at (616) 774-8652 or visit the website at choochoogrill.weebly.com.