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Letters 11-17-2014

by Dr. Buono in the November 10 Northern Express. While I applaud your enthusiasm embracing a market solution for global climate change and believe that this is a vital piece of the overall approach, it is almost laughable and at least naive to believe that your Representative Mr.

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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.”
 
Monday, October 6, 2008

Bowers Harbor Inn

Dining Al Parker There’s more than falling leaves and the smell of wood smoke in the air at one of Northern Michigan’s most historic restaurants.
Bowers Harbor Inn is abuzz with change as an on-site microbrewery, a new chef and a roomy facility designed to host wedding receptions and other special events are being added to the landmark Old Mission Peninsula restaurant.
In addition, lifelong friends and longtime business partners Jon Carlson and Greg Lobdell, who bought the venerable restaurant two years ago, have donated future development rights for the 11-acre site to the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, a nonprofit group in Lansing. The agreement protects more than 650 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline and dozens of towering old pines.
“As we move forward, in the spring of 2009, the new reception facility and microbrewery will complete the master plan for the site and create a true artisan showplace,” said Lobdell.
The new brewery will be headed by Mike Hall, a renowned master brewer, who is a senior member of the International Brewers Guild. He has trained more than 100 brewers and has designed and installed more than 40 breweries around the globe.
 
Monday, September 15, 2008

Bigger is better at Gio‘s

Dining Al Parker When looking for a location for his new full-service Italian restaurant, Greg “Gio” Vereyken opted to go big – really big.
Gio, who brings some two decades of restaurant experience to his venture, opened Gio’s Trattoria Grille in a former Ace hardware store along U.S. 131 in Kalkaska. The mammoth space provides 12,000 square feet of space for dining, drinking and entertainment. There’s another 12,000 square feet of storage in the basement.
“I can’t think of anything that’s even close to this (in size),” says Gio with a smile. “Usually you’re trying to use every inch of space, but it’s such a different problem when you’re trying to fill all these square feet.”
Gio and his wife, Crystal, spent about six months of constant work installing interior walls to divide the area into a 2,000-square-foot bar area, a 4,000-square-foot main dining room and a 4,000-square-foot banquet hall. They painted the walls, redid the floors and added Romanesque decorations.
Gio’s mother, Sharon, contributed an artistic touch with murals and wall paintings that lend a distinctive Italian vibe.
 
Monday, September 1, 2008

The Push-Pin Man

Art Al Parker Traverse City artist Eric Daigh is not only passionate about his creative works, he’s also intent on earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
While other artists typically work in oils, watercolors or charcoal, Daigh has chosen to express his abilities through a very unusual medium – push pins, those run-of-the-mill, plastic colored pins that are jabbed into bulletin boards in offices around the world.
“We’ve applied to the Guinness book for ‘The Most Push Pins Applied by an Individual,’” says Daigh, an affable, energetic artisan whose lifelike character portraits are catching eyes at the
InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City.
 
Monday, July 28, 2008

Firefly is TC‘s new party place

Dining Al Parker When they decided to transform their riverfront restaurant 310 into a new eatery, veteran restaurateur Jeff Wiltse and his wife Trish knew exactly what they wanted.
“It was a sign of the times,” explained Wiltse, who also owns and operates Bubba’s Restaurant and Bar, Giovanni’s Roadhouse, Grandview Catering and TC Food to Go. “Fire Fly (Lounge) had always been the most popular part of 310, so we kept the Fire Fly concept and expanded it into a restaurant.”
For whatever reason, the public had wrongly pegged 310 as a high-end, upscale, sort-of-stuffy restaurant, with its Fire Fly Lounge forging its own reputation as a fun, casual party place.
The Wiltses want people to know that the casual party vibe is alive and well in the Fire Fly restaurant. “We want to be known as the party place, a fun-loving bar with killer food,” said Wiltse.
 
 
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