Restaurants closed?

Two readers asked about a couple of local restaurants that recently closed.
Mark Brooky
Aug 26, 2013

Ralph of Grand Haven asked, "Where's Rios? Rios Mexican Restaurant at 1106 Robbins Road seems to be closed for good. Doors are locked and all table and chairs are gone from the dining room. No sign on the door. What's up?"

Becky of Grand Haven Township asked, "I wonder if you know what is happening with Kathy's Country Kitchen? I heard they moved because the walls were falling in. Do you know where they are moving?"


Yes, both restaurants abruptly closed with no word about it from the owners. Neither apparently informed Joy Gaasch, president of the local Chamber of Commerce, about their closures.

"They were purchased about a year ago and the new owners had businesses in other communities," she said about Rios, which opened in December 2009.

A manager at Rios Mexican Food in New Buffalo said the first cook at their restaurant, Pedro Rios, opened the Grand Haven franchise on his own, and it had some management issues and business was poor.

Kathy’s Country Kitchen, located near the Grand Haven 9 in Grand Haven Township, was open for less than six months in a spot that was originally a Big Boy's franchise.

"The location has a 'for sale' or lease sign that went up when they closed," Gaasch said. "I can’t confirm or deny the wall issue and have not heard anything about relocation."

Grand Haven Township Manager Bill Cargo said he has also heard a rumor about a roof leak leading to mold, but can't confirm that.

Know anything about why the restaurants closed? Tell us about in the comment section.

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Whatever happened with the Vic's deal? GHT ran a few stories on some of the woes, however never a follow up (that I saw) on what wound up happening. I'm assuming they are still open??


the only business that will stay open at the location of the former Big Boy IMO would be a bank... access really sucks, and lets face it it is just a bad location in general, kind of like the location for the old Ponderosa .. just my two cents :)


The success or failure of a restaurant in the old Big Boy has nothing to do with location. If the food is great and the service and atmosphere are nice then people should flock to a restaurant. The location in that spot is actually pretty good when you consider that it is right next to a movie theater. Dinner and a movie is still a very popular date night. The problem with the restaurants that have gone into that building is that they had bad food and mediocre service.


The food was just okay. Reminded me of a school cafeteria. Got the beef tips and noodles. Also tried the chicken pot pie which looked better than it tasted. - Adam Gottbetter


Restaurants that have a dollar menu don't seem to be closing down these days


Dollar menus are the only thing people can afford these days with everything else going up from gas to healthcare. Don't be surprised to see more closings in the near future.


What the Grand Haven area really needs is an all you can eat buffet restaurant. The two buffets in Norton Shores are doing great business and are a real bargain, especially for seniors. The cost of gas to get to Norton Shores offsets the great value of those buffets for Grand Haven residents, however. The same can be said for driving down to Holland to find a buffet , of which there are few to choose from. I hope that someone will open a good buffet in Grand Haven. We are long overdue for this type of restaurant, with lunch and dinner pricing, of course.


Now you’re just being silly.

Round trip from Robins Road and Beachtree is 17.2 miles to the buffets. Given the average consumer fuel economy (as of April 2013) that’s a massive cost of $2.866 at $4 a gallon (that's me giving you a rather high gas price).

So dinner for 2 with gas and tip should run you about $23 (rounded up)

There are cheaper places than this to eat within Grand Haven and Spring Lake that will save you a couple of cents on your gas bill as well. ;)


I understand exactly what you're thinking Einstein, however, if you ever get into a kitchen of a buffet restaurant you would never eat in another one. What happens to the huge amount of food that people take and don't consume would curl your hair, after of course you realize you are eating what was previously on someone's plate. I am not speaking out of school on this one, been there and done that.

It all comes down to food cost and making a few bucks when you aren't charging much. On top of that there is only one or two skilled kitchen personnel and the rest are part time minimum wage earners, overhead must be kept low in a place like this. Going out to eat in this day and age is a risky business at best. Unless you go to a very nice place that charges dearly for great food, service, and atmosphere I suggest eating at home so you know what you're eating. In other words, there isn’t a cheap meal – fit to eat. You get what you pay for with most things in life if you actually do the research.


We need The Station from Roosevelt Park to open down burgers around.


Not a fan.


I second that, I like a butter burger better than the Station.


Kathie’s had some really well prepared items to build from, the service however was a C during the very best visit, maybe it was family working for free but the worn looking handyman theme is not an appetizing one for me, I gave the place some high marks for the food but the service was simply not there. Just my opinion: to us the location was a small issue, perhaps the building has issues as lots of stuff has gone in and gone out just as quickly.
Maybe it boils down to location and wait staff that turn you off with their appearance or uninvited gabbing about their medical issues (yes that happened) and last but certainly not least many of us feel very privileged to dine out as the economy catches its breath and therefore our dollars are spent really carefully and we insist on the best for our bucks, and their goods and services were not our best discretionary investment. I do wish them and Rio's the best in their future endeavors.


I had the un-privilege to work at Rios for 2 days. My first day I witnessed blatant health code violations: Dishwashing sink used to rinse lettuce; no sanitizer on site, Chicken left to thaw over night left out on a prep table...chicken blood wiped off the table with dry rag only, chicken was then cooked and left out at room temp in a third pan for 8 hours, raw meats above fresh produce--produce that was never washed before serving...many other issues as well.

2nd day: Tried to rectify this by explaining to the owner that I had over 15 years of restaurant experience and that I would help him train his staff with no wage increase...simply because I liked his food. He freaked out on me and said, "Nobody is going to come in here and tell me what to, the health department, nobody". He went on to explain that he doesn't care if the heath department shuts him down and that he would 'open up somewhere else'. After that, I shook his hand and quit. He gave me cash for hours worked and that was that.

The fact that they are closed is probably good for everyone's health.


I have to say we went there once and found the place dirty, kids in a playpen in the corner with runny noses, the tables were wobbly and worn, all in all it was a shabby environment and we took our stuff to go and ate it but the look of the place was so creepy and unsanitary looking we couldn't finish our food, we should have left without ordering.


Thanks for the update.


Well I certainly can't disprove what you're saying, but I will say that I ate there once a week from the time they opened until they closed and I never experienced any problems with the way the food was prepared.

I love Mexican food and thought his recipes were very good. I think the biggest problem he had was the location. It was a crappy spot for a restaurant. Auturo's on the other hand has a similar menu to Rios and is doing a bang-up business (it seems) with his spot on the main drag. It's hard to make a go of it when the bulk of the traffic doesn't go past your business.

I was sorry to see Rios close, but not surprised....this town really needs a good traditional mexican restaurant and no, imho, we don't have one at this point.


These days we go to Sam's Tacos behind Culvers, not a fan of Auturo's rubber burrito's. A&L Farms on Lake Michigan drive has good food as well but to each his own.


"A&L Farms on Lake Michigan drive has good food as well, but to each his own".

Boy, aint that the truth, especially with Mexican fare it seems. With one long standing exception even my wife and me can't agree on a good mexican meal. I love Auturo's soft corn tacos, she won't eat there so I sneak off by myself for a fix :-)
We ate at Sam's once, not long after they opened and for my dime it was a glorified Taco Bell. Food was lousy and overpriced, ain't been back since the first time...been to A&L too and liked it, but she didn't... :-(
The primo place for us the last 30 years was El Caminoes up in Muskegon, but they closed down a year or two ago. That was the first time in my life that a resaurant closing bummed me out. All of our kids grew up eating there once a week until they left home. Loved their hot sauce.
Nowadays we usually go to what used to be Pablo's, but is now called the Mexican Grill, up on Apple Ave.
There's also an excellent place down in Holland called Margarita's that's very traditional menuwise, but we haven't been down that way in quite awhile. I hope their still in business.


If the building is still owned by the same company that rented it to Big Boys then a big problem for anybody to be successful is the amount of rent that they have to pay. The rent when I checked after the Big Boy closed was $15K+ per month.. That is a huge huge fixed expense for any restaurant.

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