Tag Archives: Mayor George Heartwell

The Ballroom at McKay Grand Opening Celebration


“Be Our Guest.”

That was the theme throughout a very special grand opening of Grand Rapids’ newest event space, The Ballroom at McKay, on Friday evening. Located on the second floor of the historic McKay Tower, and once home to Grand Rapids National Bank, the nearly 11,000-square-foot space has been beautifully restored into a world-class event venue. As you enter the ballroom, the first thing you will probably notice are the eight incredible twenty-four foot Doric columns, the beautiful chandeliers that sparkle throughout, and the original marble slab walls with gorgeous detail. The modular black lacquer bar features mirrored glass that compliments the mirrored glass on the upper walls.

On Friday evening, well over a hundred event professionals, city leaders, and friends of those involved were invited to get the first look at The Ballroom at McKay. Chaundra Derks, Director of Operations for Steadfast Holdings and McKay Tower welcomed everyone and thanked the architects and the many contractors who made the ballroom into what it is today. She introduced her father and owner of McKay Tower, Jonathan Borisch, who was elated at the results of the restoration project. He hopes that this space and the building are “a blessing to the city of Grand Rapids.”





Mayor George Heartwell was there as well and thanked the Borisch family for the “great gift” they have given to the residents of Grand Rapids. He remarked that it is projects like this in great cities like ours that attract bright, young, talented people to the area. The Ballroom Director, Alicia Caldecott, owner of A Day in May, Event Planning and Design in Traverse City, will oversee any events in the space. Caldecott talked about the many possible uses for the room, from weddings to social gatherings to fashion runway shows, and described the state-of-the-art audio/visual system that will accommodate a variety of technologies.



Beautifully designed tables by Jennifer Ederer of Modern Day Floral & Events; Caldecott’s firm, A Day in May, Event Planning and Design; and Jodi Bos of In Any Event showcased three very different concepts for table design in the ballroom, and there were beautiful place cards and menu cards featuring calligraphy from Lola Grace Calligraphy. Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Applause Catering, Martha’s Catering, The Catering Company, and The Gilmore Collection—preferred providers of the venue—were on hand with delicious hors d’oeuvres, meats, cheeses, fruits, and of course desserts for the guests who walked through the space, in awe of its timeless beauty.

If you are interested in seeing the space for your special event, it is open by appointment only—call (616) 951-1078 or email info@theballroomatmckay.com.

They can’t wait for you to be their guest!


City of Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission Gala



The City of Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission celebrated its 60th Anniversary on May 20, 2013, with its Civil Rights Dinner Gala, featuring the keynote speaker, Harry Belafonte. Established in 1953, the goal of the Commission was to eliminate prejudice and discrimination, promote equality and help elected officials adopt these principles.

The evening began with greetings by George K. Heartwell, the Mayor of Grand Rapids, who proclaimed May 20, 2013 as Civil Rights Day in the city, followed by Dr. Daniel Krichbaum, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.




Before introducing the Helen Claytor Civil Rights Awards recipients, recognition was given to the recently deceased commissioners, Debra Muller, Rae Bower, and Jason Swanson, who gave their time and hearts to reaching the goal of the Community Relations Commission. Former Managing Director for the City of Grand Rapids, Ingrid Scott-Weekley was also recognized for her continuing dedication to the community.





Awards were given to Stephen R. Drew, Esq, Lupe Ramos Montigny, and Rev. Douglas VanDoren, in honor of Helen Jackson Claytor, also known as the First Lady of Civil Rights in Grand Rapids. The Community Relations Commission established the Helen Claytor Civil Rights Award in 1998 to honor citizens with commitment and passion reflective of the life of Helen Claytor.

Artist, Paul Collins, introduced the highlight of the evening, the keynote speaker Harry Belafonte, artist and activist for civil rights. Belafonte’s success reached beyond his career in music and theatre, into the world still full of racial barriers and discrimination. He left behind his musical career to see the world, to find the “deeper meaning to the universe,” but what he found were too many issues that needed to be addressed, and he wanted to be part of the process toward eliminating them.



Belafonte was the voice behind “We Are the World” on January 28, 1985, aided in the release of Nelson Mandela, was appointed to be the cultural advisor of the Peace Corps and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, among recognition from numerous other organizations around the world.

“If we do not make a difference, a difference will not be made,” says Belafonte.

Belafonte was given a key to the city by Mayor George Heartwell and an original piece by Paul Collins, as gifts for his dedication to a world free of discrimination and inequality.

Stellafly’s Sneak Peek – Grand Rapids Brewing Company



In December 1892, six Grand Rapids breweries consolidated their individual operations to form the Grand Rapids Brewing Company. 119 years later on this day, December 5th, GRBC finally returns home to downtown Grand Rapids.

The Grand Rapids Brewing Company (GRBC) will be open to the public on Wednesday, but a few lucky folks had a chance to try it out a day early at a private event hosted by owners Mark and Michele Sellers. The Sellers’ company, BarFly Adventures, also owns several other restaurants in Grand Rapids, including HopCat, Stella’s Lounge and McFadden’s. This bar is a nod to the original GRBC, which closed on April 26, 1918 due to the Prohibition Act.

Walking into the GRBC on Tuesday night was a bit like taking a trip back in time. The designer, David Dodde, calls the newest addition to downtown, “an homage to Grand Rapids…a factory in the front, and a barn in the back.”

Dodde was just one of the many invited guests who came to Tuesday night’s celebration. Other guests included Mayor George HeartwellGrand Rapids City Commissioners Rosalynn Bliss and Ruth Kelly, Rapid Growth’s Jeff Hill, Benjamin Hunter, Ralston Bowles, The Winchester’s Paul Lee, DDA Executive Director Kris Larson and Dave Engbers and Jeremy Kosmicki and other locals.

There is even a Grand Rapids theme to the beer names—you can try The Fishladder, John Ball Brown, The Senator Lyons Stout, and there’s even a Rosalynn Bliss Blonde. The Silver Foam is their marquis beer, and is a reformulated version of the original GRBC’s famous brew.

There are several distinctive features throughout the restaurant. Much of the wood is reclaimed, there is recycled brick on the bar, and the hostess stand was at one point the foreman’s station at the Chris-Craft factory. The bar dons two bar areas including a copper-plated draft box and bar top. The back bar was built by Marc Wiegers from Greenwood Studio. Their sign was designed by local artisan, Dan Carlson of Carlson Design. The venue also offers up a beautiful private room available for parties of 50 or more. The private area can accommodate up to 90 people seated or 150 people standing. The GRBC is also the Midwest’s first all-organic brewery.

The GRBC officially opens its doors to the public at 3:00 on Wednesday afternoon, and they will literally be “rolling out the barrel” to kick things off, complete with an accordion player. That is also when the official Mug Club will be opening up for membership. For an annual fee of $65, you will receive a mug inscribed with your name and $1 off beers all the time, $2 off beers on Mondays (Mug Club Night), discount tickets to special events, and first chance at any special release bottles.

It’s not all about the beer, either. The menu is full of unique appetizers, main dishes, and even some sweet treats to wrap up your visit. Start off with the Pork Belly Lollipop or the Fried Pickles, then move on to a Cauliflower “Steak” Sandwich, and finish off your meal with a Drunken Elvis Cupcake. The menu was designed by Michigan native, Adam Watts. Adam moved to Grand Rapids from Boulder, CO in early November to join GRBC. Adam was born and raised in West Michigan. He graduated at the top of the class from the GRCC Secchia Institute of Culinary Arts. He set out to learn from the best chefs he could in order to expand his culinary palette. Since graduating from Secchia, he has cooked at Northern Michigan’s iconic Tapawingo, Edinburgh, Scotland’s Rhubarb at the Prestonfield Hotel, California’s Chateau du Sureau, Kalamazoo, MI’s Rustica, and Boulder, CO’s The Kitchen Cafe. Most recently, Adam was chef of Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar in Boulder.

Make it a priority to check out the Sellers‘ latest venture. As usual, you will not be disappointed!

Check out their website for more information: http://www.grbrewingcompany.com and, of course, LIKE them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GRBrewingCo