Scholar Restaurant

Grand Rapids, MI

First Companies was honored to manage the renovation of the former J. Gardella’s Tavern in downtown Grand Rapids, a 100-year-old, three-story building. The newly renovated space is now home to Scholar, an early American restaurant with timeless design and warm hospitality. The building respects its historic past, maintaining its original hardwood flooring and tin ceiling tiles, as well as a 140-year-old handcrafted Brunswick bar relocated from a hotel pub in Chicago. Two new bars were added to the space on the lower and second floors, as well as a new roof and renovated staircase to meet code requirements. Our team walked alongside the restaurant proprietor throughout this historic renovation, adapting to new ideas and opportunities as needed to stay on time and within budget. The existing staircase was modified to meet code requirements.

“We selected First Companies based on their proven accomplishments, including a very positive referral from a close friend. What I did not expect was the highly productive collaboration the First Companies team brought to this project. Early on, they understood where we wanted to go with the design and Scholar’s vibe for the space, and they were just as excited as we were to bring this vision to reality. Renovating a 135-year-old building can present unique challenges. From the selection of high-quality subcontractors, detailed organization of cost-to-budget and full-time support, First Companies totally executed. When I say full-time, the site supervisor was always available to address any issue. Thank you to the First Companies team for great work to build Scholar!”

– Michael Winks, Owner, Scholar

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Mixed Use // Multi-Family