With locations in Charlevoix and Petoskey, the owners identified Grand Rapids as a natural extension of their market reach. Specifically, the former Duthler’s Family Foods location on the city’s West Side presented itself as a promising location to become the city’s first permanent food truck court. The scope of the project includes an indoor bar, restaurant, shared kitchen, outdoor seating, and space for five food trucks.
The existing building started as an automobile service station in 1917, followed by a Ford car dealership until the 1950’s. From then until 2017, it operated as a grocery store.
The architectural intent of this project is to reuse the existing building and infrastructure on the site, by redesigning the north-most walls to frame an outdoor experience and reuse the south-most building for an indoor restaurant, dining, and bar area.
The care and craft that went into the original Ford dealership drove the Owner’s revitalization efforts for the project. The original building incorporated expansive glass, which invites passersby into the space, resonating meaningfully with The Back Lot’s goal of welcoming people into a community space. Material and finish choices focused on revival and bringing to life what was originally there, including brick, large, exposed trusses, and a wood ceiling.
The automotive use has strained the natural condition of the site, with inevitable pollution from fuel sources and other volatile organic compounds. Responsible remediation will be a core objective of the process, but when complete, the new community gathering place will allow for a more resilient and sustainable urban amenity.
The Back Lot will attract a range of demographic groups due to its diverse offerings and open, liberal atmosphere and a range of food and beverage selection; it will also serve as an incubator for local businesses. The Back Lot owners take great care to integrate and adapt to each location’s individual community. The Back Lot Grand Rapids received overwhelming support from local government and neighborhood groups, and the community is eager to welcome them to the West Side.