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East side gets youth infusion

Julie Angell • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:57 PM

The sleepy area is contrasted with the hustle and bustle of downtown Grand Haven’s touristy atmosphere, but Eastown business owners are trying to change that.

“There’s been an ingrained sense of small business over here for years,” said Nate Patterson, manager of the MACkite store at 217 S. Beechtree St. “We have different business plans.”

Since the Mackinaw Kite business opened an Eastown store in 2012, Patterson said he’s embraced the challenge the area brings. He said there’s no room for complacency, and young business people need to be focused and driven in order to succeed.

“Everyone kind of has this negative connotation to east Grand Haven,” Patterson said. “That’s just because downtown is so nice.”

Speak to at least a few of the 20-somethings making waves in Eastown, and they’ll say one of the ultimate goals is to increase foot traffic. Tourism and the accessibility of the downtown area will bring in customers with ease, but Patterson and other young Eastown business people like the challenge of trying to get customers to their side of town.

“Everybody wants more,” Patterson said. “It’s always this pursuit of growth.”

Mary Mitchell, a Grand Haven native and owner of Fat Chix Coffee Cantina, 313 S. Beechtree St., has been settled in Eastown for more than a decade. She’s worked with the younger business people in the area to show what Eastown has to offer.

“I think it’s something to celebrate,” Mitchell said. “The young energy is starting to move in.”

Mitchell said she also likes the challenge that an up and coming area brings to a business. Each business owner is working hard to spread the good news about what is available on the east side.

Nick Mika, owner of Electric Cadillac at 314 S. Beechtree St., saw how relatively inexpensive the real estate was in Eastown when he decided to open a new sandwich shop. Mika said he’s had to tweak his business model to make the offbeat location work for him — but a year later, he’s noticed the east side of the city gaining momentum.

Read the complete story in Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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