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A chance meeting led to ownership of Western Avenue Grill.

Ross Boissoneau - September 5th, 2011
A chance meeting led to ownership of Western Avenue Grill.
By Ross Boissoneau
Mark and Matt Mattson took a circuitous path to restaurateuring – in particular the ownership of the Western Avenue Grill in Glen Arbor.
The two brothers grew up working in the restaurant industry, starting as busboys, eventually moving up the ladder to the point they were managing restaurants while in college.
They both switched gears after graduating, spending years in the auto industry. But the restaurant industry was in their blood, and they eventually found themselves back in the game with the Peninsula Grill on Old Mission Peninsula.
It was a chance meeting that then led to the pair purchasing the Western Avenue Grill in Glen Arbor. The duo was at a pub watching a football game and rooting for Ohio State (Matt’s alma mater) when they started good-naturedly bantering with another table. Among those patrons was Bill Milks, owner of the Western Avenue Grill.
“He asked us if we’d be interested in owning another restaurant, and we said, ‘No,’” said Mark.

But discussions continued, and after visiting and eating at the restaurant a few times, the two decided that, yes, they actually did want to own another restaurant. That was six years ago, and they’ve never regretted the decision.
“It’s a great building, it’s got a great spirit, and we’re really pleased,” said Mark.
Located on the main street in Glen Arbor – Western Avenue, of course – the restaurant, known locally as the WAG, is a popular place for locals and visitors. The menu includes a number of fish and seafood dishes, as well as – of course – items from the grill, including steaks, chicken or duck.
The most popular item on the menu, according to the brothers, is probably the Parmesan Crusted Whitefish. “It’s a staple for our summer clientele,” said Mark.
Matt points also to its saltwater brethren as another favorite. “Chef Justin (head chef Justin Stinson) has been getting in fresh ocean seafood, a little bit of everything,” he said.
Mark eagerly takes the bait, saying this is the first season the restaurant has regularly offered oysters, and that’s been another hit from the menu.
Despite the plethora of fish and seafood, though, Mark points to the steak as his personal favorite. “I really like our filet,” he said. “Our steaks are all choice beef, steroid and hormone free.”
Matt says he too favors the filet, or maybe a seaside choice. “Our chef does a fantastic job with scallops.”

Whatever the choice, the WAG offers casual yet upscale dining, not only in the dining rooms and bar area, but outside as well. The addition of a patio not only increased the number of seats, but also the restaurant’s reputation and visibility.
“Adding the front patio two years ago was the smartest thing we ever did,” said Mark. “It’s been a really great addition.”
Yet in almost the same breath, he readily acknowledges a decision that didn’t pan out as well.
“The worst one we made was getting rid of the shuffleboard table. But it will be back next week.”
While it may be best known for its steaks and seafood – and yes, the shuffleboard – the WAG is a popular lunch and breakfast spot as well. During the summer it’s open seven days a week from 7:30 to 10, 11 on the weekends. As with many other seasonal favorites, those hours are cut back in the fall, and in winter they’re open six nights a week for dinner.
For more information, you can visit the website at or call 334-3362.
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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