About

Welcome to Forty Acres Soul Kitchen

Forty Acres is an authentically American restaurant and bar with a resilient, unapologetic style. Our modern, urban space invites community members from every culture to come together at the table to celebrate black culture, community and success.

Our Purpose

As passionate Grand Rapidians, Forty Acres owners Darel Ross and Lewis Williams recognized a story that needed to be told—the story (and celebration) of Black America. Our promise at Forty Acres Soul Kitchen is to not only share this story with the community, but to celebrate this rich culture—and invite people of all cultures to celebrate with us.

With the establishment of Forty Acres, we aim to:

  • Share the real story and the rich history of African Americans in our city, state and the U.S. as well
  • Offer authentic, upscale soul food in a comfortable, local establishment including bar service
  • Support local workforce efforts by hiring local residents
  • Engage in socially-responsible activities by supporting LINC UP, a local non-profit in which owners Darel and Lewis strongly invest their time and energy

Our Story

One of America’s original cuisines—harvested and prepared by slaves on plantations—nurtured America’s soul and shaped her emerging identity. During the Industrial Revolution, African Americans preserved their traditions and their cuisine, giving us a taste of the original Americana.

Forty Acres celebrates this authentically American heritage and the history, resilience and success of the African American community at its location in the heart of the Wealthy Street Business District. We honor this community with classic soul food, a superior dining experience, quality sourcing and leadership, and an unapologetic story to tell so that everyone can taste what has made this country.

Our Brand

The Forty Acres brand is a blend of celebrating soul food’s authentically American heritage while sharing our unapologetic story and what it represents in our communities. So... what does it represent?

Our story represents not just overcoming adversity but succeeding as well. It represents a group of like-minded folks with a genuine, progressive, driven, community-building, and most importantly, unapologetic attitude. Here at Forty Acres, we have a serious love for our purpose, our history and our cuisine—and you'll feel the passion throughout your entire dining experience.

Join us in our celebration of the rich history and the African American community—we'd love to have you.

Learn More

“At the end of the day, we’re a great restaurant that serves soul food and the owners are black—in that order. And we’re unapologetic about all three of those things.”

Darel Ross

Lewis Williams and Darel Ross

Lewis Williams and Darel Ross - Owners

Darel Ross

Darel has had a lifelong passion for serving the Grand Rapids community. For more than a decade, he has worked in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors to elicit real change and make Grand Rapids a more inclusive and opportunistic city for living, working and educating people of all backgrounds.

In addition to his work at Start Garden, Darel sees Forty Acres as another extension of creating more job, learning and cultural opportunities for the residents of Grand Rapids. 

Lewis Williams

Lewis has been living and working in Grand Rapids for nearly 20 years, but got his start in restaurants in his home state of New York. With over 25 years of experience in the restaurant/hospitality industry, Lewis has been a part of several restaurant projects since he moved to Grand Rapids in 2000, including Sierra Room, Opus 1894 and Louis Benton Steak House.

As co-owner of Forty Acres, Lewis will support local workforce efforts by hiring residents and sharing the real story and rich history of African Americans in Grand Rapids and beyond.

Chef Trimell Hawkins

Chef Trimell Hawkins - Head Chef

Chicago-born and Holland, MI-raised, Chef Trimell discovered his love for cooking when he served in the U.S. military. After leaving the service in 2008, he worked his way through various kitchens until attending and completing his culinary training at the Secchia Institute of Culinary Arts under Master Chefs Campbell, Renusson, and Dunn.

After graduation, Chef Trimell spent a summer working with Chef Mark Elliot, the esteemed owner of Elliotts on Linden in North Carolina, and later worked as Sous Chef under Master Chef Kevin Dunn. Although trained in classical French cooking, Chef Trimell brings his own heartfelt style and flair by blending southern elements into his dishes.