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our history

the store itself

Amy Ruis took her first serious interest in food at the young age of 3 weeks when her dad fed her an anchovy. blue cheese followed soon after, and then sardines.  the rest is history.  Amy will eat almost anything (except cooked peas that are NOT in a pod because she has issues with its texture…)

Amy and Steve Ruis

Amy and Steve Ruis

somewhere along the way, Amy caught not only the food bug but the retail bug.  she has enjoyed the presentation of food and drink from the early age of eight when she sold lemonade and cowboy cookies at the curb.  today Art of the Table is a perfect vocation and hobby for Amy. Amy’s love for entertaining and enjoying great food & drink lends perfectly to varied & quality selections for the store.

Art of the Table opened October 21, 2003 to swift business and customers from as far away as California & France and as close as next door.

since the beginning, Amy and Art of the Table have been involved in many community programs and issues, starting with her involvement in the Wealthy Street Business Alliance.  as one of the founding board members of Local First West Michigan, Amy dedicated a good deal of time working to grow the organization as well as being a Local First ‘ambassador’ to the community.

besides these endeavors, Art of the Table supports many local non-profits like Home Repair Services, Lighthouse Communities, Baxter Community Center, Grand Rapids Organization for Women and many local private & public schools.

the building

the history

the original owners of the home and store at 606 Wealthy were Mr. & Mrs. William Rice Foster. William was born in 1834 in New York. In 1893; he lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan and was well known here.  In 1876, he came to Grand Rapids and engaged in insurance writings under the firm name of Stuart & Foster, continuing two years, when the business was operated singly by Mr. Foster. (History of Kent County, Michigan, Chas. C. Chapman & Co, 1881, Chicago)

after this, the Joseph family occupied the home and the storefront was run as the Wealthy Food Market.  we had the honor of meeting Mary Joseph soon after purchasing the building.  she came by with pictures of the place filled with her family members which we proudly display at the store – even the cute one of her as a kid that she didn’t want us to put up.

since then, the building has been run as numerous party stores, typically selling 40oz-ers, cigarettes, lottery tickets and hair color for men (one of the things we found here upon purchase).  we’re excited to have a different kind of party store – one that caters to a real “party”, a gathering of friends, a cozy night by the fire, a porch party on a hot summer’s eve.

we hope you stop by and find out what we’re all about – and don’t forget to admire the history of Wealthy Street.

the renovation

in 2003, Steve & Amy Ruis entered into a partnership with some Heritage Hill neighbors to purchase and renovate the building formerly occupied by a rundown party store.  this project required extensive renovations to the building that contains our retail space on the 1st floor and an executive-quality apartment on the 2nd floor.

we have always been humbled by the community’s reaction to our project.  It is thrilling to have not only a new look for this run-down corner, but we’re overjoyed with the impact we’ve had on the sustainability of the local economy. this little ‘island’ (Wealthy Street Bakery and Art of the Table) has created over 40 new jobs, and most of the employees live within walking distance of the shops.

on the local subject, for our construction efforts, we were able to use suppliers and contractors from the neighborhood for most of the work, putting almost $500,000 into our local economy.  kudos on all the building work to local friends and fellow businesses:

  • Grand River Builders
  • Willink Construction
  • Somerdyke Plumbing
  • Venson Dix Drywall
  • R&J Raven
  • Clearlite Windows
  • A-1 Asphalt
  • Pristine Glass

one of the other crucial elements to the ability to renovate the building lies with United Bank of Michigan, a locally owned & operated bank – who has been outstanding in their support to our project and to Art of the Table itself.

other contractors were used from all over the city and the region for HVAC, engineering, electrical and supplies. very little money went to national chains…and we LOVE local (can you tell?).

upon completion of the building, we received the Historic Preservation Award from the City of Grand Rapids, and that was pretty cool.

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