Beach used to be a long-distance trucker so that gave him the know-how of what a down-to-earth, home-style restaurant should be like.
I knew what places were good and what places to avoid - and I quickly learned what I liked and didnt like, he explained. He has succeeded in pleasing his customers from those truck-driving learning experiences. That fact is easily in evidence according to his loyal local following as well as the tourist traffic that often stops by on the way up US 31 to places north like the Mackinaw Bridge and beyond.
An affable, tall and instantly likable man, Beach is chief cook and bottle washer most of the time with occasional help on the side. The Log Cabin looks exactly as its name implies; homey, warm pine paneling, floors that have stood the test of time and of course blue and white checkered tablecloths. And it is immaculately kept.
John had never cooked in a restaurant before he and his wife Roxanne, a realtor, bought the Log Cabin.
I used to cook at home a lot, Beach said. Rather than the quiet of home, Beach says the restaurant, keeps me hopping pretty good! Everything on the menu Beach makes from scratch. He needs no cookbooks either. His mind is his cooking guide.
Then theres Spam -- a spoof that turned into a much-wanted item on his menu. It has become one of the restaurants most popular items, Beach said, adding that he goes through about two cans per day of one of the most highly joked about canned items ever created.
John and Roxanne made a special trip to Ashland, Minnesota a few years ago to visit the Hormel factory and museum where Spam was originally conjured up. Just as every Elvis fan longs to visit Graceland, Spam fans worldwide now have their own pilgrimage to make, the Hormel web site writes. The museum opened in 2001 and offers the history of Spam. The web address is www.spam.com.
It was cool to visit Hormel, Beach said. Surprising to know how many Spam merchandise items there are too. In the summer the Log Cabin carries a variety of Spam collectibles including t-shirts and sweatshirts.
So what does Beach cook up for his guests? Some may wish to forgo their diet for at least the morning here. Probably one of the hardiest creations is The Lumber Jack - a prime sirloin steak with eggs any style, truly homemade hash browns (no bagged stuff - these are all natural hash browns where Beach boils fresh, raw potatoes and shreds them right in his own kitchen) and toast or pancake. Another is his wifes choice and creation, Roxies Stuffed Hash Brown - it is smothered with a blend of melted cheeses and sour cream. The Log Cabin - Beachs own sausage gravy that he makes every morning is delicious, served with warm biscuits.
Something on the menu a bit on the lighter side is The Birds Nest - a toasted English muffin topped with an egg, your choice of Swiss or American cheese, and bacon, sausage, ham or his famous Spam. Beach also cooks up hearty pancakes, pancakes and steak, Spam, or other breakfast meats. His French toast is delightfully sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, served with homemade maple syrup and served with your choice of meat on the side.
He is most proud of his R Special Cinnamon Swirl French Toast. He also offers Beachs Country Omelet - a build-your-own omelet in which you may choose from American or Swiss cheese, onions, hash browns, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, ham, bacon, sausage, Spam or perfectly spiced chili which is homemade. And on the side choose from jalapenos or salsa.
Big Johns Favorite is his chili omelet. Beach smothers this with a blend of cheeses and homemade chili and he says it comes oozing with sour cream and his great hash browns. He also has eggs cooked to order any style with toast, pancakes, meat or his absolutely delicious hash browns.
If you are not in the mood for breakfast (served throughout opening hours), you may opt for Big Johns Burger with your choice of mushrooms, bacon, olives, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, Miracle Whip or mayo. Beach offers a daily special soup he makes, again of course from scratch. These include potato, vegetable, Guimpki, chicken noodle and split pea. He is especially proud of his homemade chili.
The menu goes on with sandwiches that include patty melt, ham, tuna, grilled cheese and the famous Philly Steak. Beachs Log Cabin also offers grilled chicken steaks, burgers, BLTs, grilled chicken breasts and dont forget the Spam burger.
Beachs Log Cabin is on US 31
S., Conway, MI. 231-347-5530. Open year round, 7 a.m.-2 p.m., seven days a week.