Experience Restaurant Week in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids may be known as Beer City, USA, but the city is also a mecca for fine dining and local fare! Every year, Grand Rapids hosts Restaurant Week downtown to highlight the many diverse food options and eateries across the city. If you’re a looking for a delicious meal at a fair price, this is the event for you!

Read more on what you can expect at this year’s Restaurant Week courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids.

From August 10th through the 21st, “Taste the City” of Grand Rapids during the city’s annual Restaurant Week 2016.

Delectable dishes are available all throughout Grand Rapids during Restaurant Week

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

What is it?  Every August, at the peak of Michigan harvest season, Grand Rapids recognizes the creativity of local chefs and the bounty of local farmers.  Restaurant Week 2016 has over sixty participating locations, which means locals and visitors could eat out three meals a day for the full eleven days and STILL not exhaust their culinary options around town.  Chefs are asked to create a three course menu that showcases both creativity and Michigan farm-fresh food.  These offerings are not on the general menu, so even if it is a restaurant you’ve tried before, you can taste something new.

How much?  Restaurants around town take two approaches to the three course menu.  Some cost $28 per person for the three course offering, and others offer $28 per couple for three courses.  Many chefs offer options for each course to accommodate dietary restrictions or preference.  Ask your server to suggest a beer, wine, or cocktail pairing that might compliment your exclusive meal.

Restaurant Week allows you to explore the many fantastic eateries in GR

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

 

Enjoy a Michigan wine pairing with your steak

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Why offer Restaurant Week?  There are many reasons that Restaurant Week GR is beneficial to the food economy of Grand Rapids, but one awesome benefit is that $1 of every three-course meal sold is given in scholarship to the Grand Rapids Community College Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.  Experience Grand Rapids has raised over $100,000 for the endowed scholarship and is excited to add to that at the end of RWGR 2016.  This support in the culinary arts educational community is raising the next generation of talented Grand Rapids chefs who will exercise their own creativity during future Restaurant Weeks!

When is it, again?  Try Restaurant Week is happening now through August 21st. A list of all participating restaurants and their three-course offerings is available here: peruse and choose, but be sure the restaurant you pick is open when you’re ready to feast!  Will you choose the coffee crusted pork chop with sour cream whipped potatoes, fried kale, cherry & cabernet from Cork Wine and Grille? Or perhaps you’d prefer to start off with summer corn soup, barbecued shrimp, charred spring onion and corn salad from Olives Restaurant and Bar in Gaslight Village?    Document your edible experience on social media using #RWGR, and happy eating!

Where is your favorite place to grab a bite in Grand Rapids? Share with us by commenting below!

All in the Family: 4 of Michigan’s Iconic Multi-Generational Businesses

Father’s Day serves as a time to be with family and share memories of the past. In Michigan, we have many distinctive family-run companies which not only maintain their roots as historic businesses, but they are paying attention to current trends and looking to the future to thrive for new generations. Read more as Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan shares the history behind four multi-generational businesses.

1. Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island—First opened in 1887, this National Historic Landmark has been operated by the current family for 83 years. In the midst of the Great Depression in 1933, W. Stewart Woodfill (who was hired as a desk clerk in 1919) was the sole bidder to take the hotel out of receivership and preserve its place in history.

His nephew, R. D. (Dan) Musser Jr., began working at the hotel as a college student in 1951. In 1979, Dan and his wife, Amelia, purchased the seasonal property on America’s most noted island and began the task of redesigning both the interior and exterior spaces, with the help of architect Richard Boss and decorator Carleton Varney.

Grand Hotel is as iconic as any other destination in Michigan

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

Dan Musser III grew up in the family business—serving as kitchen assistant, bellman, bartender, bar manager, front desk clerk and manager, reservations manager and vice president, before being named President in 1989 and officially taking over the 390-room “Green Certified” hotel in 2011 (along with all the outlying properties: The Jewel Golf Course, The Gatehouse Restaurant, Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor, Jockey Club, Woods Restaurant, Cawthorne’s Village Inn and the new Grand Sushi which just opened this summer.

2. Schuler’s Restaurant, Marshall—In 1909, a young orphaned Albert Schuler (a name he acquired from a traveling butcher who took him in after his mother died and his father abandoned him) became an entrepreneur, building the foundation for what has become one of Michigan’s most noted restaurants in historic downtown Marshall.

Bert’s first business was a cigar shop, followed by a small café, hotel and restaurant. It was here that second-generation Winston “Win” Schuler and his brother, Albert Jr., brought national attention to the restaurant, with at one time nine locations around the state (and one in Indiana).

Shuler's Restaurant in Marshall is a local favorite

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

“While it was expected that I would follow in the footsteps of my father and grandfather, it was a path I was actually eager to take,” says third-generation owner Hans Schuler, who officially joined the business in 1959 and in 1970 became President of the company, purchasing it from his father upon his retirement in the 1980s.

Larry Schuler is the fourth-generation to work in the family business and serve as a leader in the state’s hospitality industry. He is currently the president of Schu’s Hospitality and is a consultant for The Henry Ford Museum & Institutions in Dearborn.

3. Stafford’s Hospitality, Petoskey Area—It could be said that Stafford Smith was born to be a hotelier in the Petoskey area. Although his family was from the downstate town of Albion, they were vacationing in Petoskey when he made his appearance into the world. Today, his name is synonymous with hospitality in this lakeshore region.

He was just 22 years old in April, 1961 when he purchased the Bay View Inn. Originally built in 1886, this charming vintage inn is Stafford’s flagship property nestled along the shores of Little Traverse Bay. The Pier Restaurant in downtown Harbor Springs became the next acquisition (1970), followed by the Earl Young-built Weathervane Restaurant in Charlevoix (1986), the Perry Hotel (pictured below) (1989), the Gallery (2007), the Crooked River Lodge in Alanson (2011) and the Draw Bridge Bistro in downtown Charlevoix (2014).

The Perry Hotel is one of Smith's many popular destinations

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

Stafford R. “Reg” Smith is the eldest child of Stafford Smith, and his wife of 55-years, Janice. He grew up in the business, having worked in nearly every capacity at the Inn. During the 1990s, Reg and his wife, Lori, together served as innkeepers at the Bay View Inn. Today, Reg is the Vice President of Hotels for Stafford’s Hospitality’s seven regional properties.

4. Zehnder’s, Frankenmuth—The first restaurant meals served in Frankenmuth were at the Exchange Hotel in 1856, just 11 years after the town’s founding. In 1928, William and Emilie Zehnder sold their 80-acre farm and borrowed the balance of the funds necessary for the $8,000 down payment to purchase the hotel. They opened on Mother’s Day, 1929 and on that first day served 312 guests, for just one dollar each.

The 1950s were a pivotal decade as the Zehnder family purchased the competition, the Fischer’s Hotel (where the community’s family-style chicken dinner originated), and named Tiny Zehnder as manager. Within a few years, Tiny suggested to the family that they remodel the building, adding character through Bavarian architecture. The entire family agreed and by 1959 the newly named Bavarian Inn opened with a grand celebration—the foundation to Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Festival, which is still celebrated to this day.

Zehnder's Restaurant is a must-visit when exploring Frankenmuth

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

Despite financial setbacks, the Zehnder family continued to invest in its businesses and community, helping to create an unquestionable pride in its German heritage. The successful transformation of Fischer’s Hotel to the Bavarian Inn helped to encourage other Frankenmuth property owners to develop what is now “Michigan’s Little Bavaria.”

Bavarian Inn continues to be a staple in Frankenmuth

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

Today, the third generation of the Zehnder family are still currently involved in the day-to-day operations of their expanded businsses. The Bavarian Inn branch of the family (under the guidance of their 95-year-old matriarch, Dorothy Zehnder) oversees the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, the Bavarian Inn Lodge and the River Place Shops. The Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth branch operates the flagship Zehnder’s restaurant (America’s largest family restaurant), as well as The Fortress championship golf club, Zehnder’s Splash Village and a retail facility Zehnder’s Marketplace.

Michigan is home to many other generational family businesses, what are your favorites?

Dianna Stampfler is the president of Promote Michigan. She’s been an active supporter of the tourism industry since her first family vacation to Leelanau County at the age of three. Today, she is living her dream and resides in the Lake Michigan shoreline community of Petoskey. 

7 Pure Michigan Pizzerias That Will Make Your Mouth Water

Today is National Pizza Day! Who doesn’t love a cheesy, saucy piece of pizza? No matter how you’re celebrating, either with a slice or a whole pie to yourself, we’ve scouted seven of the best pizzerias in Pure Michigan that you can visit today to celebrate or whenever you’re craving this delicious dish. 

Supino Pizzeria
2457 Russell St, Detroit

Our first stop is Supino Pizzeria. This much-loved pizza joint, located in Eastern Market, uses the freshest ingredients and bakes their pizzas in an Italian wood-burning oven. They have a wide variety of thin-crust pizzas sure to make your mouth water. If you’re feeling cheesy, get the Quattro Formaggio: a red pizza with mozzarella, smoked Gouda, chevre and feta cheese.

Photo Courtesy of Buddy’s Pizza

Buddy’s Pizza
17125 Conant St, Hamtramck

Of course, we had to include Buddy’s Pizza on this list. This iconic pizzeria started out in Hamtramck on Conant St in the 1930s. However, it wasn’t until 1946 that their famous square pizza was introduced. Buddy’s has now grown to 11 different locations in Michigan, so you’re likely to find one near you! Try a pizza from the Great Lakes Pizza Collection like the Lake Superior and you won’t be disappointed. It incorporates a cheese blend, basil, pine nuts, pepperoni, tomato basil sauce and Buddy’s Sicilian spice blend all into one great pie.

Mani Osteria & Bar
341 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor

Mani Osteria & Bar is an independently owned restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor that specializes in artisanal pizzas and other creative Italian dishes prepared in a wood-burning oven. They often use locally sourced ingredients for their dishes. Check out the bar for regional craft beers, old world wines and much more. Indulge in the Shrimp Scampi pizza equipped with fontina cheese, scallion cream and bacon.

Ambassador Restaurant
126 Shelden Ave., Houghton

One of the best U.P. restaurants to get your pizza fix is the Ambassador. It has been around since 1965 when the Rossi family transformed the previous tap bar into a restaurant that specialized in pizza and sandwiches. One of the most interesting pizzas here is the Tostada, a pizza with spiced ground beef, white Colby cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, topped with hot sauce. If you’re looking for a more traditional dinner, try the BLT pizza made with thin crust, salad dressing, Colby cheese, smoked bacon, lettuce and tomatoes.

Photo Courtesy of Ambassador Restaurant

D’Angelo’s Pizza
1305 Columbus Ave., Bay City

D’Angelo’s Pizza in Bay City is a local joint that has several rave reviews of their pizza and has won many awards. The restaurant is often included in the best of Michigan lists. Be sure to try their Voodoo pizza that includes grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, garlic, spinach, sun dried tomatoes and fresh mushrooms. (Closed Tuesdays)

Fricano’s Pizza Tavern
1400 Fulton Street, Grand Haven

Fricano’s is claimed by many customers to be the best pizza they’ve ever had. The restaurant started as an old boarding house in the late 1800s, but was transformed in 1949 by the late Cosimo (Gus) Fricano and is thought to be the first pizzeria in Michigan. Try their Sausage and Mushroom Fricano’s Pizza pie!

sausage pizza

Photo Courtesy of Fricano’s Pizza

DeLuca’s Restaurant
2006 W Willow Street, Lansing

DeLuca’s is a family-owned business since 1960, specializing in pizza, so you know they have great pies to try. The family jokes that pizza sauce, not blood, runs through their veins. The restaurant has been voted best pizza in Lansing 10 years in a row by View Magazine. Satisfy your cravings with a Bruschetta pizza made on thin crust with olive oil, bruschetta, tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella and Romano cheese.

What other Pure Michigan pizza spots do you love? Comment below!