By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
It’s the place where “the fun never ends,” and this year, that place of fun, Craig’s Cruisers, also is the Wyoming Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Retailer Business of the Year.
“The community really welcomed us with open arms,” said Cait Thrasher, group sales and marketing manager for Craig’s Cruisers.
After twenty years of the first Craig’s Cruisers opening in Silver Lake, the company began to look for a location in the Greater Grand Rapids area. It already had expanded into the Muskegon location in 1990 and Holland in 1994, and with each expansion, came a new addition. For Muskegon, it was an indoor area to host birthday parties and for Holland, it was a restaurant that served pizzas.
When looking in the Greater Grand Rapids area, the owners knew they wanted enough space to be able to grow the business and they found a three-acre parcel on Clyde Park Avenue in Wyoming that fit the bill. In 1999, Craig’s Cruisers opened with outdoor activities that today include two 18-hole mini golf courses, bumper boats, kiddie carts, go-carts, and two large pavilions. A little more than half the building is dedicated to arcade games, including a giant crane game, laser tag, and the first indoor go-cart track that remains very popular today.
“We have a number of team building events utilizing the go-carts,” Thrasher said, adding that the Wyoming Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce has had events at the facility for its members that have included the go-carts.
The biggest change for the Wyoming Craig’s Cruisers location came 10 years after it opened when a 700-seat capacity restaurant – the largest seating capacity restaurant in Kent County – was added to the facility increasing the building to 85,000 square feet. The restaurant features a pizza buffet that also has salad, pasta, and desserts, which yes, includes dessert pizza. Thrasher said it opened a whole new door for Craig’s Cruisers in allowing the facility to host an array of different groups from corporate team building events to lock-ins for church programs and schools.
In fact, Craig’s Cruisers has become a popular place for senior all night parties and hosts a huge New Year’s Eve event for teens. It also remains popular for birthday parties as well as a place to escape for a few hours of fun.
“We are happy that we are helping to make memories and proud to be the place that people do that,” Thrasher said.
Community is important to the owners and staff of Craig’s Cruisers because “without community we wouldn’t be here,” Thrasher said, adding that having community connections and being able to network with others is vital in today’s marketplace, and a key in making those connections has been the Wyoming Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce.
“It is very exciting – and flattering – to know that what you are doing is so appreciated by the community that you are in,” Thrasher said. This year’s award is extra special in it is the second-time Craig’s Cruisers has received Retail Business of the Year, she said.
“There is so much that brings people here and we are happy to be one of those places that bring them,” Thrasher said. “We also are thankful that the city of Wyoming has allowed us to grow here.”