The fare and flare of Spain has arrived in downtown Grand Rapids with the opening of the new MDRD, pronounced Madrid, on the 27th floor of the tower at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel (previously Cygnus27 restaurant). While the feel and flavors have changed, the unparalleled views of downtown and the Grand River means that this space still provides the best skyline dining in the city. Here, every seat is the “best seat in the house.”

Throughout the restaurant, lush colors and textures accompany whimsical accent pieces, gold-laden shelving, and pops of greenery that celebrate the culture of Madrid. The décor evokes an energetic “carnival” feel, with vibrant multi-dimensional custom installations by Muskegon artist Maddie Jackson. “Poses of the Matador” backdrops a four-tiered coliseum-esque seating area, while “Flourishing Flamenco” uses dozens of colorful fans to form the dancer’s skirt on the wall of one of the many private dining spaces. The entirety of MDRD can be rented out as well for a plated dinner of up to 80 guests or a reception-style event for 200.

Lavish cocktails and exquisite Spanish wines complement traditional menu items like paella, vieiras (scallops), cochinillo asado (pork belly) and pulpo a la gallega (grilled octopus) among many other seasonal items created by executive chef Stephan VanHeulen in what he calls his “love letter” to Spain.

“MDRD was a natural progression from the Spanish menu Cygnus offered,” says George Aquino, vice president and managing director of AHC Hospitality, the management company behind Amway Grand Plaza and MDRD. “We wanted to capture the essence of Madrid with this new design, so we hired the best in the business, Gensler Chicago, to interpret the ‘Rhythm of Madrid’ into the concept. What we accomplished is the restaurant’s ability to transport our guests into a refined interior space that reflects a modern Madrid restaurant.”

When executed safely, in-person meetings and events are possible. But it’s been tough for meeting planners across the nation, due to differing state-by-state and even county-by-county guidelines. In some areas, meetings and events have returned a while ago, but for others, it’s hard to imagine what planning a meeting would be like.


2020 was on track to be a record year. For some catering companies across the state, continuous growth year-over-year had set them up for success, and they thought it would be their best 365 days yet.

And a record year it was—but not for good reasons. Layoffs and furloughs, major losses in sales, and too many cancellations and postponed events to count made 2020 a year that catering companies will never forget.


It’s not everyday you get the chance to log off, ditch the meetings and let loose with a can of spray paint and a blank canvas. 
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