Day 279: The Winchester

The Winchester
Photo courtesy of The Winchester

“Open mind, open palate,” is Paul Lee’s main philosophy in maintaining his tremendous success as founder and owner of The Winchester in Southeast Grand Rapids.

The Winchester
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Hamilton

Paul Lee created this distinct bar and restaurant after some extensive European travel. He wanted it to have the feel of a European pub; the kind that the locals frequent. Paul fashioned The Winchester to be a bar with restaurant food, trying to avoid the common restaurants with bar food that have become far too familiar. An extensive beer and wine menu with beers hand-selected from all over Michigan and different parts of the world ensures the opportunity to sample a variety that you have never tried.

Located on Wealthy Street, The Winchester plays an important role in the Southeast Grand Rapids scene. As a child, Paul grew up upstairs and had no desire to leave the Wealthy Street scene. In his creation of The Winchester, he incorporated his passion to travel with his even stronger passion for his community.  Bringing varieties of food and beverages back from different parts of the world for his restaurant goers to sample has become his welcomed method of operation.  Putting his own twist on the food he encounters has made for an extremely unique and delicious menu.  From Deviled Eggs to Rabbit Napoleon and everything in between, each dish is handcrafted by the finest culinary artists. Paul takes a large amount of pride in his staff and dedicates much of his time to selecting his chefs. The menu is constantly changing with a few staples that remain. The dish that captures my heart is the black and bleu, which is bleu cheese macaroni and cheese made with fanfare pasta, bacon, tomatoes, with cooked to order flank steak set atop. To my great relief, Paul assured me that this is one of The Winchester’s signature items that shall remain on the menu.

The Winchester
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Hamilton

Across the street from The Winchester, you can find one of largest local food gardens in the Midwest. Paul Lee is the man behind this garden, adding to his long list of community developments. This garden supplies many of Winchesters’ needs and further adds to the friendly atmosphere of Wealthy Street.  Everyday, 12,000 cars travel on Wealthy Street from the surrounding communities.  With the newly renovated Wealthy Theatre nearby, Paul says he couldn’t be happier with the development of this neighborhood.

Aside from The Winchester’s amazing food and beverage selection, it is a great place to hang out and get to know people as well. Bookshelves filled with board games are available for hours of entertainment and the patio outside is perfect for lingering with some happy hour drinks. Paul has created an atmosphere here that makes it hard to leave and easy to keep coming back.  Over 250,000 people live within a five-mile radius of this restaurant and it is great to know that each visit to The Winchester will bring something new. With its unique food and a laid-back, friendly atmosphere, it is easy to boast that The Winchester is one of my favorite restaurants in the Grand Rapids area. ~Jennifer Hamilton, Feature Writer

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