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Rico‘s of Manistee

Ross Boissoneau - July 11th, 2011
It‘s all in the family for Rico‘s in Manistee
By Ross Boissoneau
From the outside, with its log exterior and rather low-slung appearance, Rico’s looks rather like an old roadhouse.
But inside, the restaurant on M-55 just northeast of Manistee is surprisingly bright, shiny and roomy. The warm, glowing wood, bright lights, and welcoming smiles make it clear that this is someplace you can relax and enjoy a meal.
That is a direct reflection of the attitude of owners Gary and Mary Diebel. They want to make sure their customers enjoy the area as much as they do.
Like so many others, after years of vacationing in the area, the Diebels longed to move north permanently. They lived in Ada and worked in Grand Rapids, but the lure of Northern Michigan was strong.
“We had a cottage here for 21 years,” Gary said.
But too young to retire, and with a family to provide for, they needed to find some way to make a living.
“We were looking for something here to do, and (Rico’s) had a good following,” said Gary.
So the family, including sons Kevin and and Cameron, are all now part of the food industry. Their third son, Chris, is as well, as he manages the Boathouse, another Manistee restaurant.
“The family is all involved,” Gary said. Having someone from the family at the restaurant virtually whenever the restaurant is open helps ensure a level of customer service. “When we’re not here, they (the sons) are,” he said.

While Gary patrols the front of the house, Mary’s area of expertise is the kitchen. “I do what needs to be done to keep things running smoothly,” she said.
That includes bringing her hand to such specialty areas as soups and sauces. “We make a lot of things from scratch,” she said.
The Diebels say Rico’s is best known for its steaks, prime rib and Friday seafood specials. “We’ve got a pretty extensive menu,” Gary said. “We tweak it every six months or so.”
And as might be expected from a restaurant in Northern Michigan that caters to vacationers and locals alike, “We sell a lot of burgers.”
In addition to the bar and the main dining room, Rico’s also has a small separate dining area. “We do a lot of private parties here,” Gary said.
While the depressed economy has taken a toll on their business like most others, Diebels are hopeful the continued warm weather will bring more people to the area, and more business to their restaurant.
“It’s been a little soft,” Gary acknowledged, but they remain resolute.
“You always hope for it to be better,” he said with a smile. “We’re kind of on the outskirts here.”
So if none of the Diebels bear the name Rico’s, where does the name come from?
“The people we bought it from, he was a friend of theirs,” Gary said.
That kind of friendship and family feeling is one of the biggest drawing cards of the restaurant. The warmth of the surroundings, the restaurant itself, and the welcoming staff all work together to make Rico’s more than just another burger joint along the way.
Rico’s is located at 900 Caberfae Hwy, Manistee. Ph: (231) 723-3721.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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