The corner at Wealthy and Henry seems to be cursed, as the East Hills diner Royals announced they are temporarily closing, becoming the third business to close there this year.

Royals Operated In The Old Johnny B'z Hot Dogs Space

The diner, owned by the Lee family, took over the old Johnny B'z space at 701 Wealthy in March of 2020, just as the pandemic settled in.

In the best of times, starting up a restaurant in a market the size of Grand Rapids is an iffy proposition, but in the midst of the pandemic, it was real tough for the diner, known for their breakfast, to get off the ground.

In a statement issued on the restaurant's web site, they likened it to trying to avoid stumbling over the furniture in your house:

Operating restaurants the past couple of years has been like walking into your home late night without waking up your roommate our significant other. You’ve been walking past the same pieces of furniture, the coffee table, the couch, the laundry basket, or the dog dish for years, yet there they are for you to stumble into them as if they were placed there for the first time.

Rather than flip on the light switch you briefly turn on your phone flashlight to light your path and you see it; the clear path across the room…until you step on that lego or empty plastic bottled water or can of LaCroix left on the floor. You curse under your breath and proceed to make your way forward.

Maybe up to this point you think you’ve been as quiet as a church mouse, but it’s all for nothing as your cell phone hits the floor as it falls out of your packet while getting undressed.

The nighttime procedure didn’t go as planned, but your head finally hits the pillow, and you sleep like a baby. You wake up the next morning feeling great, you’ve successfully maneuvered around all the obstacles that gave you fits the night before and you’re ready to crush the day and every day after.

Normally, opening any new restaurant is like walking into your home at night. You’re going to stumble over the things you know have always been there, but there’s always light the next morning to ensure it you don’t repeat the same mistakes.

They went on to say they're hitting the pause button:

Two years into this and the sun is starting to rise, and the layout of the room is beginning to come into focus. Working from home has become the norm for many, which has forever changed the breakfast / brunch business. Take-out and delivery, which had been an added convenience before the pandemic, is now integral to how restaurants will operate for the foreseeable future. As these and many other factors in the restaurant business come into focus, what we were currently doing, while we loved and enjoyed my many, it just wasn’t going to work in the long run.


The Restaurant Vows A Return In Some Shape Or Form

The eatery is the second location at the corner of Wealthy and Henry to shutter in the last month. Elk Brewing closed its doors on May 15. A third business on that corner was destroyed by fire.

The Lee family says all of the employees at Royals will be given jobs at their other restaurants like Donkey Taqueria, Hancock or The Winchester, or in their catering business. In their statement, they said the Royals space may reopen but as what, they were kind of vague on that point.

Doing a lot of introspection, viewing trends in other markets, and talking with neighbors, friends, and others in the community, we’ve made the difficult decision to hit pause on this version of Royals. Our intention is to retool, reevaluate, and re-conceptualize to help relaunch Royals later this summer/Fall.

The new version of Royals will better align with our existing restaurants on Wealthy St. (The Winchester, Hancock, and Donkey) and maybe this time we’ll be able to have a proper restaurant opening…with the lights on.

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