By K.D. Norris
Russo’s International Market, located on 29th Street in Grand Rapids but right on the City of Kentwood border, has announced plans to open a second location in downtown Grand Rapids — a return home, of sorts, according to the company’s president.
“Since opening in 1905, my grandfather made it his mission to serve the Grand Rapids community. Our first location was on Division in what was known as ‘Little Italy’,” Phil Russo, president of Russo’s International Market, said in supplied material. “When we needed more room, we opened up on 29th Street. … We always knew we would return to our roots and this second location will allow us to serve the downtown community as we once did 112 years ago.”
The new location is planned for the former Bagger Dave’s location at 241 W. Fulton St. The new location is in the city planning and approval stage at this time. According to a company spokesperson, “there are no plans to close the 29th Street location” with the opening of the downtown location.
The market is also plans to expand its offerings with the new location by adding a restaurant, coffee bar and a gelato bar in addition to the market, deli and beverage products currently available at the 29th Street store.
Russo’s is a family-owned business — for many years it was named “G.B. Russo & Son” — and the family plans to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony and community celebration once approval and construction is finished. Russo’s International Market is currently run by the 3rd and 4th generation of the Russo family.
A big reason for the decision to expand back into downtown, according to a release from the company, is the expansion of residential offerings in the area and other economic factors.
According to the Russo’s release, “with the growing number of downtown residents, the need for retail options within the downtown area is evident.”
According to Downtown Grand Rapids, 183 residential units were added to the downtown Grand Rapids area in 2015, with an additional 1,437 proposed units to be developed shortly after. With the addition of the proposed units, downtown Grand Rapids would house 5,201 residential units. Downtown Grand Rapids’ goal is to reach 10,000 residential units within the downtown area by 2025.
“The Grand Rapids community has been so devoted to our family-business throughout the years, and our goal is to continue to serve the community to the best of our ability, Russo said. “We realized the lack of offerings for downtown residents, and this gave us the opportunity to return to downtown Grand Rapids and serve the growing residential population,” said Russo.
The Fulton Street location is in addition to the store’s existing 18,000 sq. ft. location on 29th Street, which was purchased in 1976, and expanded in 2008. The expansion comes nearly two months after a rebrand to commemorate the company’s historic 112 years in Grand Rapids. For more information visit russosgr.com .