Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


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Monday, September 7, 2009

Steer a course for Modes

Dining Al Parker Steer a Course for Mode’s
Extended family carries on tradition
at landmark restaurant

By Al Parker 9/7/09

Anita Mode smiles broadly at a customer’s joke, runs a cloth across the already gleaming wooden bar, then greets another visitor to the family’s venerable restaurant, Mode’s Bum Steer located in Traverse City.
“We’ve been here for 34 years now,” she says with pride. “It’s been very good to us.”
Mode’s is very much a comfortable family-run operation. For most of those 34 years Anita ran the front of the house, while husband Bob was a fun-loving fixture in the kitchen. When Bob died two years ago, their daughter Skylar became manager and shares responsibilities with her mother. Son Chris helps out as a bartender.
 
Monday, August 31, 2009

Taco House

Dining Al Parker Staying Power
The Taco House has popularity that’s built to last
By Al Parker 8/31/09

Restaurants open and restaurants close, but veteran restaurateur John Coscarelli knows exactly what’s made his Taco House prosper for some 28 years.
“The reason we’re successful, and continue to have success, is the people I’m working with,” explains Coscarelli, the soft-spoken hands-on owner of the popular Mexican fast food eatery in Traverse City.
“We have good chemistry working together. My head manager has been with us 28 years, two others over 20 years, five or six people between 15 and 20 years. People come here and they see familiar faces. That’s a big part of our success – that and the quality and consistency of our food.”
Located on Garfield Road just north of bustling South Airport Road, the area was much less congested when Coscarelli opened Taco House in 1981. “Bill Marsh was just starting his auto dealerships and the Cherryland Mall was there, but the rest of the area just built up around us,” he recalls.
Coscarelli took an empty building that once housed another Mexican restaurant and converted it into a comfortable dining atmosphere. The red-tiled floor and gray-and-white walled interior are clean and inviting.
 
Monday, August 10, 2009

Slabtown Burgers

Dining Al Parker Bag It!
Burger in a bag recipe is a hit for Slabtown Burgers

By Al Parker 8/10/09

So what does a property owner do when his tenant, a restaurant, falls victim to hard times and has to close its doors?
For longtime Traverse City realtor Jeff Pownall the answer was to roll up his sleeves, remodel the building and open yet another restaurant, Slabtown Burgers.
“I’ve been in the real estate business for years, but I’ve never run a restaurant,” says Pownall. “I was real nervous.”
That nervousness subsided when Slabtown Burgers drew an out-the-door line of customers at its April opening.
“We went through 700 pounds of beef and 1,000 pounds of potatoes in six days,” recalls the affable Pownall, who once tended bar at Dill’s Olde Town Saloon, a Traverse City landmark.
Known at various times as Baghdad, Little Bohemia or Slabtown, during Traverse City’s formative years, the west side was home to hard-working mill workers and skilled woodcarvers who built tidy cottages for themselves out of scraps or “slabs” from the sawmills.
 
Monday, July 27, 2009

Lab Test

Features Al Parker Lab Test
A Company that’s Proficient in Hard Times

By Al Parker 7/27/09

At a time when pink slips are almost as common as cherry trees across Northern Michigan, one Traverse City company has been adding workers.
“We’re adding tech people – that’s where our industry is headed,” explains Dan Edson, co-founder of American Proficiency Institute, created almost two decades ago to serve the laboratory industry.
API now serves more than 15,000 clients. It’s the second largest lab testing company in the world, according to Edson, who knows a little about pink slips.
 
Monday, July 13, 2009

North Country Grill & Pub

Dining Al Parker North Country Grill and Pub
Boone family brings recipe for success to Suttons Bay

By Al Parker 7/13/09

One of Northern Michigan’s long-established foodie families is offering
top quality cuisine in a comfy cabin atmosphere on the main drag of
Suttons Bay.
 
Monday, June 15, 2009

Leelanau Cigar Company

Features Al Parker A Pipe Dream Comes True at Leelanau Cigar Co.

By Al Parker 6/15/09

Joe Barrera, owner of the only cigar shop in Leelanau County, remembers clearly when he fired up his first cigar.
“It was at Paul’s Cigar Shop in Flint,” recalls the 60-year-old Barrera with a smile. “I was in my early 20s and the owner, Paul, gave me a Cohiba. He started me off with a quality cigar and I’ve enjoyed them ever since.”
Now the affable tobacconist is providing quality smokes and good conversation to friends and customers at his business, The Leelanau Cigar Co. in Suttons Bay.
 
Monday, June 8, 2009

Sparky‘s Diner

Dining Al Parker Blast from the Past Sparky’s Diner
By Al Parker 6/8/09

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.
 
Monday, February 23, 2009

Crow About It Coffee & Cakes

Dining Al Parker The Dalgliesh family has been involved in many forms of artistry over the years, incuding photography, painting, woodworking, decorating, poetry, novel writing and music.
Now they’re expressing their talents through espresso at their new family-owned and family-oriented eatery, Crow About It Coffee and Cakes.
“Our goal is to present a positive, creative and comfortable setting for anyone and everyone,” says Sarah Dalgliesh, who was born and raised in Leland and worked in the restaurant business for about 13 years at Sugar Loaf, The Homestead, Boone Docks and other locales. “If you’re looking to stop in for a cup of coffee before work, or you’re looking for a place to meet friends, or just a place to put your feet up and relax, you’re welcome here.”
Crow About It Coffee and Cakes opened in November in a strip mall at the intersection of U.S. 31 North and 4 Mile Road in East Bay Township. Until recently, the building housed another coffee house, Good Harbor Coffee.
 
Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Hog Cafe

Dining Al Parker Traverse City’s newest restaurant is a place where customers with hefty appetites can pig out on ham.
Restaurant veterans Jeff Mugerian and Dean Van Steenburg have a simple philosophy for their new eatery, the Happy Hog Café that opened in mid-January.
“We want everybody to walk out of here with a hearty meal,” says Mugerian, who has owned and operated several restaurants in Traverse City, including Pepper’s Grille. “Nobody’s gonna go hungry, that’s for sure.”
Open for breakfast and lunch, the Happy Hog Café is heavy on ham from Dearborn Ham, well-known for quality pork products.
“Our customers will be enjoying ham that is handcarved off the bone,” explained Van Steenburg, who has cooked and baked at many area businesses.
Before opening, Mugerian and Van Steenburg spent weeks refurbishing the location. The result is a fresh, clean look that features a black and white tile floor, orange walls, a black ceiling and Harley-Davidson memorabilia.
“It looks like a Harley dealership,” laughed Van Steenburg, a Harley lover. “That fits right in with the Happy Hog theme.”
 
Monday, December 15, 2008

A taste of the delicious Mideast at Zakey

Dining Al Parker Restaurant owner Nabiel Musleh is a man on a mission.
“My goal is to provide the most delectable excellent Arabic food experience in Northern Michigan,” says the outgoing owner of Zakey, a cozy little eatery tucked behind Roy’s General Store at the intersection of Three Mile and Hammond roads, south of Traverse City.
A native of Jordan, Musleh came to this country as a teen to get an education. He accomplished that goal by earning three college degrees and soon forged a career of restaurant management. Over the years he worked for a number of restaurants, including Wendy’s, Taco Bell, TGIF, Red Lobster, Applebees, Perkins and Minerva’s.
“Growing up, I had eight brothers and three sisters,” says Musleh. “My Mom would be cooking in the kitchen all day long. When we all got together, it was a celebration.
In 2006, while working two jobs, Musleh ran a booth out of Folgarelli’s Import Food Market on Traverse City’s busy Front Street. Later he brought Middle Eastern fare to Minerva’s at the Park Place Hotel.
“I did Middle Eastern food at Minerva’s and the response was overwhelming,” he says. “I decided to fill the void for Middle Eastern food in Traverse City.”
 
Monday, December 8, 2008

Soulful, Soothing, Serentity

Dining Al Parker In a downtown that is percolating with coffee shops, a Traverse City family business offers visitors a soothing, healthy beverage that has been an integral part of the Zen Buddhist culture for centuries.
Serenity Tea Bar & Café, located in a century-old building across from the historic State Theater, offers 70-some organic, fair-trade specialty tea drinks, plus an impressive menu of organic vegetarian food.
“We really try to focus on having things as local as possible and as natural as possible,” says Jack Fivecoate, who owns and operates the tea bar with his brother Kerry Hanley and their mother Jill Pluckebaum.
Leave the hustle and bustle of Front Street and enter Serenity Tea Bar & Café and the impact is immediate and, well, serene. Visitors are greeted by a gurgling fresh water aquarium and a warm vibe.
For four months the mother and sons worked to renovate the 113-year-old building, stripping away decades of tacky décor and grime. They had to put in the tea bar and upgrade the electrical and plumbing in the ancient building.
“We were remodeling from Dec. 1 to March,” says Kerry. “It was tough.”
 
Monday, December 1, 2008

The House that Doggs Built

Dining Al Parker Sometimes the business world moves in mysterious ways.
For example, before launching his restaurant in Traverse City almost three years ago, House of Doggs (HOD) owner Nick McAllister eyed a sweet Union Street location that he was unable to nail down. So he opened HOD in a converted house near the east end of Front Street.
After a couple of years, McAllister was able to relocate – right to the site he had originally wanted for his popular hot dog palace.
“The move has worked out great,” says McAllister, who opened in the new location on June 4. “We’re right where we wanted to be and we even have eight convenient parking spots for customers in the rear.”
Like the former location, the new-and-improved House of Doggs reflects McAllister’s love of music and pays a not-so-subtle homage to the House of Blues. Guitars, record albums, posters and dozens of photos, plus an assortment of pop bottle caps, cover the walls and tabletops. Neon signs punctuate the scene, while a mélange of music videos play as customers enjoy their dogs.
 
Monday, November 10, 2008

Blu

Dining Al Parker Veteran chef Randy Chamberlain has been working for others in the restaurant business ever since he was knee-high to a spatula.
In June, the son of noted Traverse City restaurateur Charlie Chamberlain, finally opened Blu, his own “contemporary American” eatery on the shore of Lake Michigan in Glen Arbor.
“The summer was fabulous, just fabulous,” says Chamberlain of the restaurant’s debut. “We opened June 19 and the buzz around town was strong. We had a full restaurant the first night. It was a good night.”
Chamberlain has worked the kitchens of several Traverse City area
eateries, including his family’s and most notably at the M-22 landmark, Windows. Chamberlain operates Blu with his wife, Mari, who serves as the restaurant’s sommelier and oversees the front of the house, while Randy prepares the food.
 
Monday, November 3, 2008

El Dorado

Dining Al Parker If you’re hankering for western cooking that’s as authentic as spurs and saddles – like wild boar tacos or fried game hen – there’s no need to book a westbound flight out of Cherry Capital Airport.
John and Tracie Hardy’s new restaurant, The El Dorado, serves up western-style breakfast and lunch, not to be confused with Mexican fare.
“I’ve always had a love for the West,” says John, who does 90 percent of the cooking at the Front Street eatery that opened in June. “So far we’re doing really well. We’ve had an excellent summer and the response has been very positive to our authentic food.”
 
Monday, October 13, 2008

The customer counts at Dilbert‘s

Dining Al Parker When folks in Lake Ann or Interlochen sing the praises of Dilbert’s, they’re not talking about the snarky comic strip that lampoons life in the cubicle jungle of the office workplace.
They’re referring to Dilbert’s Café, a year-old eatery that dishes up seriously good food with a side order of playfulness.
“We have a lot of fun here,” says owner Peggy Luna. “We have lots of laughs in the kitchen and with our customers. I have a great, great staff – my people are phenomenal.”
Situated right on US -31 just west of Interlochen, Dilbert’s Café is a friendly, no-frills place that seats about 50 in booths and tables and serves up heaping plates of comfort food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“I don’t like people to leave hungry,” says Luna, who grew up on a farm in Merrill, near Midland.
As one of 10 children, she learned at a young age how to cook hearty meals for seven brothers who worked the family’s farm. In 1985 she moved to Northern Michigan. “I came up for a weekend and never went back,” she recalls with a laugh. “I got a job right away.”
 
 
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