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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Al Parker

 
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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.
 
Monday, July 14, 2008

Salad lovers will relish Radish

Dining Al Parker Cozily tucked along Traverse City’s rejuvenated Union Street, the newly-opened salad bar restaurant, Radish, is as unpretentious as a tee shirt and shorts - and just as comfortable.
Salads, soups and sweets are what you’ll find at this bustling little eatery that was opened in early May by mother-daughter owners Jacquie and Meagan Thomas.
“We wanted a place that served food that was simple and fresh,” explains Jacquie, a food service veteran of some 25 years. “I kept thinking about a salad bar and Traverse City didn’t have anything like this yet. We wanted something that was healthy, fast, fresh and nutritious.”
 
Monday, June 30, 2008

Asian Spice/ Red Ginger

Dining Al Parker Red Ginger has been open for only eight months, but already it’s built a reputation for quality “Luxe-Asian” dining fare in the heart of downtown Traverse City
“Business has been better than I expected,” says owner/chef Dan Marsh, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America and worked as a chef in New York City and San Francisco before launching Red Ginger last November.
“We were packed from day one through January. It’s been good since then, and now that a lot of Northern Michigan residents are coming back from warmer places, we expect it to continue. We already have a number of regulars.”
Located between Traverse City’s rejuvenated State Theatre and Horizon Books, the November opening took place after almost a year of renovations of the aging building that once housed Kurtz Music.
“It had no HVAC, no electricity,” recalls Marsh. “It was pretty much a shell. We had to do a lot of work, put in a new sewer system.”

 
Monday, June 23, 2008

Al Fresco Dining at Cuppa Joe

Dining Al Parker Coffeehouse owner and restaurateur Shayne Daley says he has no plans to become another Starbucks.
“Five (locations) is enough,” he stresses with a laugh. “We’re keeping busy.”
Daley and his wife Sandi opened Cuppa Joe, a popular drive-through java joint at the corner of Front and Garfield in Traverse City in 2000. They followed up with Another Cuppa Joe, a relaxing coffeehouse at Building 50. Soon after came Cuppa Joe sites at Cherry Capital Airport and inside Horizon Books in Traverse City’s downtown.
 
Monday, June 9, 2008

Turtle Creek unveils new $80 million casino & resort hotel

Features Al Parker Complete with a 30-foot water wall, an expansive three-story interior and high-tech lighting to set the mood, Michigan’s newest hotel-casino complex will debut this month.
The new Turtle Creek Hotel and Casino, owned and operated by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, offers visitors an impressive variety of slot machines, video poker, and table games on its 52,000-square-foot gaming floor.
 
Monday, May 26, 2008

Cafe Habana

Dining Al Parker Restaurateurs Greg Lobdell and Jon Carlson have added another eatery to the growing eclectic Traverse City dining arena.
Café Habana, which opened on May 14, celebrates the tasteful food, fashions and fun of pre-Castro Cuba.
“Café Habana blends the classic Cuban feel with menu items from Central and South America in an updated version on the timeless Cuban or Latin Café,” said Lobdell. “The 1930s retro-style of Habana brings up imagery of the pre-Castro Cuba with art deco décor set in a rustic environment.”
Visitors are greeted by an elegant cherry wood and burgundy interior that is accented by more than a dozen colorful Cuban posters. Lighting is provided by assorted chandeliers, most made of wrought iron and highlighted by crystals. The overall vibe is casual, but with a hint of upscale. It can seat up to 150 diners.
Since the early 1960s, the political environment between Cuba and the U.S. has given the tiny island nation a strange type of forbidden mystique. But the Cuban history and culture is extremely rich and Café Habana captures a slice of that culture in its meals, its music, and its drinks.
 
Thursday, September 27, 2007

Andante‘s

Dining Al Parker In musical parlance, “andante” means a moderately slow tempo.
In Petoskey, Andante means a contemporary, art-filled restaurant that offers elegant, intimate dining and eye-catching panoramas of Little Traverse Bay.
“We like to call our food gourmet eclectic,” explains Lori Stark, who owns and operates Andante with her husband, Bob. “We like to offer a little bit of everything. Our menu changes as the seasons change.”
Opened 19 years ago, Andante features a fusion of regional American, French, Asian and Mediterranean cuisines, a wide-ranging wine list and superior service.
 
Thursday, July 26, 2007

La Senorita

Dining Al Parker The year was 1980. A peanut farmer was in the White House, first-class stamps cost 15 cents each and Sony was riding high, thanks to its amazing new Walkman. And Traverse City was getting its first taste of real Mexican cuisine when La Senorita opened its doors on Garfield Road.
Jimmy Carter’s presidency is a distant, somewhat painful, memory. It now costs 41 cents to use snail mail and iPods are now the music machines of choice.
But La Senorita endures, thriving and expanding over the decades. “We’re six stores now – two in Traverse City, Petoskey, Mt. Pleasant, Gaylord and Lansing,” said regional manager Dave Scott.
La Senorita was the leader in bringing Mexican food to the Traverse City area. In the ensuing years, other eateries offering the cuisine have popped up, but La Senorita’s popularity has not waned.
About seven years ago, La Senorita’s founding family, the Kleinricherts, sold the company to Mexican Restaurants, Inc., based in Houston. That smooth transition has resulted in very few changes that La Senorita visitors would recognize.
 
Thursday, July 5, 2007

Opa!

Dining Al Parker Paul and Brigette Barbas are guided by a simple business philosophy.
“We want to bring good food at reasonable prices to our customers,” explained Paul, an outgoing 36-year-old whose new eatery, OPA! Coney and Grill, opened in early June at Traverse City’s Cherryland Center.
OPA! marks the first time the Barbases have owned a restaurant, but Paul, who was born in Greece and came to the U.S. as a toddler, logged plenty of time working at his parents’ restaurant – The Astoria Coney Island – near Detroit.
 
Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Dish Cafe

Dining Al Parker For many workers in the restaurant business, long, hard hours are part of the game., Patty Hickman and Randy Waclawski, who have more than three decades of restaurant experience between them, decided that if they were to work that hard, they might as well own a place., So, earlier this year they bought one of Traverse City’s most popular downtown eateries, the Dish Café., “We don’t mind hard work, ” said Hickman, smiling as she wiped down a table. “
 
Thursday, May 3, 2007

Agave Mexican Grill

Dining Al Parker Down in Mexico the agave is known as the source of Tequila.
Some 2,000 miles north in Traverse City, the Agave Mexican Grill is rapidly building a reputation for outstanding Mexican cuisine at reasonable prices.
In February, husband and wife Javier and Dusty Rodriguez opened their comfortable Garfield Road restaurant, which formerly housed Hockey Heroes, and prior to that, Gordie Howe’s Tavern & Eatery.
They weren’t prepared for the public’s first reaction.
 
Thursday, March 15, 2007

Cousin Jenny‘s Cornish Pasties

Dining Al Parker Start with a 2, then add zeroes till you reach 2,000,000. That’s how many pasties Jerilyn DeBoer estimates she’s made during her 28 years of running Cousin Jenny’s Cornish Pasties in Traverse City.
“I figure about 2 million to 2.5 million, all handmade,” calculates a smiling Jerilyn, who operates the charming Union Street eatery with her husband, Nick. “And for the first 10 years I rolled all the dough by myself on a rolling pin. That was a challenge. Now we have a dough roller. But our whole business is labor intensive. Our food is all custom made. It’s not mass produced.”
Pasties – a hearty blend of steak, potatoes, onion, rutabaga and seasonings wrapped in a sturdy pastry crust – arrived in Michigan more than a century ago when Cornish miners came to work the Upper Peninsula’s copper and iron ore mines. The pasties were a filling meal that was easy to carry and easy to eat.
 
 
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