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THE HOFBRAU: A Prizewinner for all Seasons

Danielle Horvath - March 31st, 2005
Looking for a real up north tavern with the ambience and variety of a big city restaurant? Travel no further than Interlochen to the newly expanded Hofbrau, where owner Brian McAllister, who makes his rounds most nights, will probably meet you with a hearty handshake at the door.
In this year’s Best of Northern Michigan contest, Northern Express readers awarded The Hofbrau multiple prizes, including Best Tuesday Night Hangout, Best Waffles, Most Kid-Friendly Restaurant, Best Brunch, Best Seafood, Best Steak and Best Fajita.
With its large cedar paneling, two stone fireplaces, newly expanded dining room, and choices that range from a hearty Hoffy burger to a slab of ribs to a stuffed chicken breast to a Surf & Turf combo, the Hofbrau has earned a reputation for good food at a fair price since McAllister bought it in 1998.
With a well-seasoned, friendly staff, menus that change with the seasons, popular winter specials and now seating for 250, the Hofbrau fills up most weekends year around. And in the summer, especially after a concert at nearby Interlochen Center for the Arts, it’s packed.
“Our cooks are very talented,” McAllister offered. “It’s the staff we have that makes everything work. We try to invite people in like we would into our own home. Everyone is friendly and nice and works hard to give our customers what they want.”
The Hofbrau first caught the attention of the locals back when he opened that first year with steak dinners for $5.99 and fresh perch dinners for $2.99. “Looking back, that happened by accident, and it was probably the best thing we ever did. The price brought the people in, we got to meet them, they got to meet us and they came back with their friends and families. And they’re still coming back. We figured we’d get people from around the nearby lakes, but now we draw from a 20-mile radius.”
Originally built in 1928, it began as a general store and for years was known as Peterson’s Bar, the local watering hole. It was christened the Hofbrau in the 1980s when a kitchen was added to offer bar fare. McAllister and his wife Laurie Bouwman came upon it in the late 1990s and now realize that they may have hit the timing right when they decided to buy the old building and expand it into a full service restaurant. “I always wanted a restaurant, but I thought it would just be a hot dog stand,” McAllister laughed.
The first expansion came in 2000, when they began to turn customers away for lack of seating. “If people can’t sit down, they won’t stay,” McAllister noted. “We’ve now doubled the size so it is virtually another restaurant that has been added, and waiting for a seat will now be an option.”
Their winter specials include Cheap Ass Steak Night on Monday, when you can get a complete steak dinner for under $10, everything’s half-off on Tuesdays, which brings in a big crowd, and their popular Sunday Blues Brunch features TV dinners made from scratch, with classics that include Mom’s meatloaf, fish & chips, lasagna, grilled chicken and pork chops.
The “Hof” as the locals affectionately refer to it, stocks 110 wines, 68 beers, and 41 different Bloody Marys. Banquet and private party facilities are also available in the cozy new back room, complete with its own fireplace. Hours are year around: Mon.-Sat., 11am-midnight, Sunday
10am-midnight. Call for more info: 231-276-6979.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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