Three restaurants in one building is Harbor Springs’ newest triple threat.
A 7,500 sq.-ft., 70’s-era behemoth is now Vernale’s Chop House, Sports Bar, and Wine Cellar, a place where diners of all ages and styles have something to enjoy.
Joe Guthrie, Vernales’ owner and director of operations, said the three-in-one concept was created to cater to a range of clientele.
“At Vernales, you will feel comfortable stopping in after a long day of work, from the beach, on date night, an evening with friends, or a family dinner,” he said.
While the Wine Cellar features intimate fine dining, the Chop House is more family-friendly. The Sports Bar is fun, fireside/patio dining, with plenty of TVs and a sports-bar menu.
“We cannot wait for our guests to experience it,” Guthrie said.
Guthrie and co-owner Keith Lynch, who is also executive chef, have been friends for years, and had often discussed teaming up to open a restaurant.
“Last summer I drove by, saw that the building was for sale, and called Keith to tell him I thought we should put something together,” he said. “The very next day, we began working toward purchasing the restaurant.”
The building had formerly housed Tapparooney’s and The Flying Dutchman. It had been sitting vacant for many years, so it required a great deal of work to get it restaurant-worthy again.
“There have been five of us working around the clock since the beginning of December,” he said. “We have renovated nearly every inch of the building, and we’re very happy with the results so far. We have also been able to incorporate a few of the original aspects of the building into the design.”
While some of the menu items may sound familiar, as they’re often staples on the menus of many Northern Michigan restaurants, Guthrie said that Vernales’ staff and generous portions will set them apart.
“[Chef] Keith [Lynch] is experienced in preparing high-quality meals in a timely manner for large venues, having served as executive chef at Teddy Griffin’s Roadhouse for several years, and opening his own restaurant, Goodfellow’s, on Mackinac Island,” Guthrie said.
The partners hope to become a regular stop for permanent residents and visitors alike, and will kick off the summer in style by opening the patio on Memorial Day weekend.
Along with their lunch and dinner service, the restaurant plans on serving up happy hours and live entertainment.
“I look forward to meeting everyone,” he said. “So just stop in to try us out, and ask for Joe.”
Restaurant is located at 3018 M-119 between Harbor Springs and Petoskey; telephone (231) 242-4777. Visit them online at vernales.com.