By Marissa Bergen
If you are in the Grand Rapids area and looking to spice things up for dinner or lunchtime, the Beltline Bar is a popular choice. This restaurant is not only known for its Tex Mex selections, but it also has a long history in the West Michigan community. Find out more about how this eatery came from humble beginnings to become the popular gathering place it is today.
History of the Beltline
The Beltline was first opened in 1953 by the owner, George Wilkinson. Being that the restaurant was located on 28th St., often referred to as the Beltline of the city, the name was an appropriate choice.
The restaurant changed hands in 1964. When Tony Rutkowski acquired it, The Beltline had a dining room with a capacity for just 42 diners and a total of three employees. The menu was mainly comprised of beer, wine, popcorn, and chili dogs, the house specialty. With his sights set on growth, Rutkowski worked to expand and by 1966, the restaurant had gotten a liquor license. Its menu also grew to feature favorites like the World Famous Wet Burrito.
In 2001, the restaurant would change hands again. This time it would fall to trusted family friend Jeff Lobell. Lobell would continue in Rutkowski’s footsteps allowing the restaurant to grow and expand as time went on.
Today, The Beltline has grown to offer a seating capacity of 250 and now employs a cook and wait staff of 101. Several other improvements have been made including off-site catering and curbside to go. But in spite of all the upgrades, the restaurant still rings true to the values instilled long ago, using original spice recipes that were created in 1966. And, of course, the World Famous Wet Burrito is still a customer favorite.
Eating at the Beltline has always been a treat for locals. There is a wide selection when it comes to menu items. You can start off with a selection from their beer and drink menu which includes adventurous margaritas, tequilas, and signature drinks as well as a wide variety of beers.
When you are ready to move on to food, there are a number of Tex Mex style starters, combos, tacos, wet burritos, salads and bowls, fajitas, chimichangas, enchiladas, and handhelds. Finish off with dessert-like Beltline’s fried ice cream or apple burrito.
The atmosphere at the Beltline is always bright, cheery, and evidently Tex Mex. The ranch-like exterior features a brightly colored sign and is accompanied by a cactus. The interior continues the ranch-like theme and includes nostalgic pictures, Mexican tiles, and stucco walls. All this makes for a homey environment that carries the restaurant’s theme into every part of its design.
If you want your event to be one your guests will remember, the Beltline Bar also has a catering menu available. Their trusted, knowledgeable staff will bring their delicious food to your location for corporate events, birthday parties, anniversaries, showers, festivals, and more.
Food brought to the location is always hot and fresh and dietary restrictions can be accounted for. For more information on catering, the Beltline website provides a full menu as well as everything you will need to know about ordering, changes, cancellations, delivery, and payment.
Beltline Bar not only provides delicious food and great service to its community, but it also shows a level of care that goes above and beyond. The restaurant does this by offering a fundraising option to local charities and organizations.
If you are supporting a local organization and are interested in setting up a fundraiser through the Beltline, here’s a bit about how it works.
Just pick a day and time when you would like the event to be held. The Beltline will create fliers for the event, providing 100 free copies to you at no charge. Distribute the fliers to get a crowd into the restaurant during your event. When it is over, the restaurant will donate 15% of total sales to your organization.
Beltline is also great at rewarding its loyal customers. Go to the website to sign up for their 4GR8 Rewards program. You will then be automatically in their system to begin receiving free items and discounts on offerings from their menu.
There are plenty of events that take place at The Beltline on a regular basis. These include special offers and discounts as well as entertainment and tastings. Past events have included a Man vs. Food Watch Party, a Travel Channel event, National Margarita Day, and more. Keep track of what’s happening at the Beltline by following their Facebook events page.
If your mouth is not already watering, it should be! The Beltline restaurant is known for its delicious food and it has won countless awards to prove it! Some of these include being recognized for their burritos, Margaritas, and Mexican cuisine. Specifically, Grand Rapids Magazine has awarded the location with the titles of ‘Best Burrito’ and ‘Best Margarita’.
But, of course, to truly judge how terrific the Beltline’s food is, come in and taste it for yourself. With a great atmosphere, a diverse menu, terrific service, and a level of care for their community that goes above and beyond, this is a must-try eatery for all West Michigan residents. What dishes will you be wanting to try?
Hours: Sunday: 11AM – 10:30 PM
M-W: 10AM – 12AM
Th-Sat: 10AM – 1 AM