Happy Hour

A weekly snapshot of Happy Hours around the region…

Everyday, open-7 p.m., $1.75 highballs, $2.50 house chardonnay, $2.00 drafts, $1.00 off everything else.
310 Cass St., Traverse City

Sunday-Thursday, 3-6 p.m., $1 off all drinks.
422 North 5th St., Roscommon

Lulu's Bistro
Thursdays, 5-9 p.m., $3 wells, $2 off drafts, select $5 wines.
213 N. Bridge St., Bellaire

Boyne River Inn
Everyday, 3-6 p.m., 1/4 off drinks.
229 Water St., Boyne City
Rendezvous Lounge, Odawa Casino
Thursday & Friday, $2.25 domestic drafts, $3.25 well drinks, $3.25 house wine.
1760 Lears Rd., Petoskey

Choice Bits!

Round-the-region snapshots of the dining scene. 

RUTHIE'S CHICKEN & DAIRY TWIST: Roasted chicken and ice cream, malts and shakes.
201 N. Bridge Ln., Bellaire. 213­-533­-8538.

Practically an Up North institution, the place to find out the latest fishing or snowmobile news from the locals and visitors who gather for their hearty breakfasts, steaks, burgers, soup & salad bar, & homemade desserts.
10921 Main St., Honor. 231­ 352­6585.

When you've worked up an appetite from all the bowling and karaoke that Boyne City Lanes has to offer, you'll find a selection of hearty fare to choose from, including homemade soups & desserts. Cocktails are served at the Lanes,with live entertainment and glow ­bowling nights.
1199 West Boyne Road, 231-­582­-6353.

Open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner. Full Chinese menu, as well as Hunan & Szechuan entrees.  Daily specials, special combination plates,  a lunch & dinner All You Can Eat Buffet. 
616 S. Mitchell St., Cadillac, 231­-876­-8888.

Take a trip back to the '50s where chili dogs & frosted mugs of root beer are still served up by carhops at this All ­American institution. Elvis has been known to make an appearance during their annual summer “A&W Cruise Night” in August, as do cars from the 50’s and 60’s that we remember well.
At the bottom of the hill, 21 Lake St., Frankfort,  231-­352-­9021.

From Antler Ale to Wolverine Wheat, Big Buck specializes in microbrewed beers. Offering the usual beef and buffalo burgers, steaks, and ribs, plus more unusual fare, like their portabella sandwich with red onion marmalade and provolone cheese.
550 S. Wisconsin Avenue, Gaylord, 989­-732-­5781.

A refined atmosphere, subdued lighting, and an appetizing selection of epicurean treats awaits the diner at this Harbor Springs corner landmark. Menu selections range from their smoked whitefish ravioli appetizer to their Atlantic salmon, baked polenta and eggplant, tomato basil fettuccine, or filet mignon ­ and their brunches include one of the best versions of Eggs Benedict around.
101 State Street, downtown across from Bar Harbor, 231­-526-­1904.

Pool tables, a full bar, friendly service and a varied menu make the Village Inn popular with families and locals.  Dinners include Lamb Skewers, Blue Corn Enchiladas, Charbroiled Whitefish, Lasagna and Ribeye.  Also burgers, sandwiches, salads, appetizers and pizza.  Lunch and Dinner.
Just north of the blinking light 116601 Lacorre Ave. on M­22,  Empire. 231-326­-5101.

One of Petoskey's first restaurants, Jesperson's is famous for homemade pies and fresh turkey. Breakfast and lunch.
312 Howard, Petoskey, 231­-347­-3601.
Located in Building 50, grilled panini's, soups, wraps, baked goods, specialty coffees and teas.
1200 W. 11th St., Traverse City, 231-­947­-7740.

Home · Articles · News · Dining · Sparky‘s Diner
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Sparky‘s Diner

Al Parker - June 8th, 2009
Blast from the Past Sparky’s Diner
By Al Parker 6/8/009

If you like ‘50s music rumbling from an original 1962 juke box, big-finned cars covered with chrome and authentic diner food, there’s a TC eatery that would make Bill Haley shake, rattle and roll.
Sparky’s Diner, owned by food service veterans Paul Sparks (hence the name) and Brent Bartz, opened in May of 2008. Tucked into a South Airport Road strip mall, just east of Barlow, Sparky’s is a clean, non-smoking eatery.
“We offer basic diner food – burgers, fries and shakes,” says Bartz, an affable guy who takes a break from wiping down tables and greeting customers to talk about the place. “Since we opened last year we’ve built a good base (of customers.) We serve a lot of local customers and have doubled our business over the year.”
Born and raised in Traverse City, Bartz spent 35 years at Don’s Drive-In in East Bay before leaving to open his own place with co-worker Sparks, also a TC native, who has 15 years of eatery experience.

Sparky’s 1,600-square-foot interior seats about 50 and features a sparkling fresh red-and-white décor with formica-topped booths and tables. The walls are plastered with memorabilia, records, signs and photos from the ‘50s and ‘60s that deliver a blast from the past. For those who like to dine al fresco, there are a few tables out front.
Glance up from your meal and you’re likely to see John Wayne, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart or even Elvis peering down at you. It’s all part of the fun vibe that Sparky’s offers. “For our one-year anniversary in May, we had an Elvis impersonator here,” says Bartz. “He was outstanding and we all had a great time.”
Tucked in one alcove of Sparky’s is a 1962 Rockola Princess jukebox featuring several 45s from Bartz’s personal collection of some 7,000 records. Customers keep it busy cranking out tunes by Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and, of course, Mr. Presley. “I’ve been collecting records for years and welcome anyone with 45s they’d like to get rid of to come in and talk to me about them,” says Bartz.
In another corner of Sparky’s is an authentic 1976 Gottlieb Royal Flush pinball machine that serves up three balls for only 25 cents.

Sparky’s may dish up basic diner food, but it’s top quality fare at reasonable prices. For example, there’s a quarter-pound (after grilling) burger for $3.99. For a full meal, go with a burger basket that comes with a heaping order of fries, coleslaw or pickle spear and a medium drink for $7.75.
Heartier eaters may want to try the half–pound burger for $6.19. The basket version is $9.25.
Not in the mood for a burger? Sparky’s also offers baskets of cod, shrimp, smelt, chicken and a steak dinner for $9.25. In addition to fries, other sides include pub fries, battered onion rings or mushrooms, cottage cheese on a bed of lettuce, slaw and a salad of lettuce, tomato and cheese. There’s always a soup of the day and a hearty bowl of chili available, too.
Wash down the meal with a Wild Bill’s Root Beer, handcrafted by Northwoods Soda in Williamsburg, and served in a frosty mug. Top off your meal with a thick milkshake, served ‘50s style. “We serve our shakes in glasses, along with the tin,” says Bartz. “Then we top it with whipped cream and a cherry. Not too many places do that.”
Until 11 a.m., Sparky’s dishes up breakfasts, including omelets ($4.99-$7.85), French toast ($3.99-$4.99), pancakes ($1.99) and a full array of egg dishes ($1.35-$6.99).
If you’re too busy to stop inside, there’s a drive-up window – call ahead for quick service.
“We have a real family place here, a little corner of our community” says Bartz. “It’s homey and wholesome and a friendly meeting place. We’re going for a family atmosphere with reasonable prices. We’re not here to get rich, we just want to make a living providing good food and fun for our customers.”

Sparky’s Diner, at 1462 South Airport Rd. in Traverse City, is open Monday-Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For takeout orders, call (231) 933-8005.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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