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Big Bay Cafe

Al Parker - January 5th, 2006
Take about a half-pound of high quality ground beef and form a patty by hand. Then blend in a couple of “secret ingredients” before char broiling the burger and serving it with crunchy fresh lettuce, tomato and onion on an oversized, toasted roll.
The result is the best burger in Traverse City.
That’s the opinion of Big Bay Café owner and chef Christy Steinmeier, who serves up 45 to 50 of these tasty behemoths to beef lovers on a typical day at her restaurant at 223 W. Grandview Parkway across from West Bay.
On Thursdays and Fridays, the Big Bay Burgers are paired with an uber serving of hand-cut fries for only $4. The golden fries alone are well worth the price. They are super fresh, cut from potatoes with each order. After frying they are doused with nuggets of kosher salt and served up hot – none of that sitting under a glow lamp, here.
Budget-conscious diners will appreciate Big Bay Café’s other ongoing specials – 50-cent Starbucks coffee seven days a week and free fries with any burger or sandwich.
“We think we have the best burgers in town,” says Christy, who opened Big Bay Café about eight months ago in the former site of Bubba’s (across from the old Traverse City Light & Power location) on the busy Grandview Parkway. “Whatever we make for our customers, we make it our very best.”

Steinmeier trained as a chef at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Arizona. She later worked in Arizona, Texas and Chicago before plunging into business for herself by opening Big Bay Café. She was familiar with the Traverse City area, having spent summers in Northern Michigan as a child. Her parents, who live in the Glen Lake area, tipped her to the restaurant location when it came on the market.
Big Bay Café serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week and seats about 20 people. Steinmeier added fresh bright paint, new trim and tabletops, and a custom-built front register that opened up the diner’s front area for seating. It’s a comfortable place to enjoy a fresh cup of Starbucks coffee, read the Northern Express, or open a laptop and take advantage of the Café’s free wireless access.
“We’re a friendly, diner-type restaurant,” says the energetic Steinmeier. “We have some regulars who come in nearly every day and we’re always glad to see them, along with new customers.”
Steinmeier is there every day to oversee her staff of three. “We’re a very friendly place. The people I have working for me are talkative and outgoing. They make our customers feel comfortable when they come in.”

The Café’s breakfast menu offers the standard egg items and omelets, all made with fresh eggs. But the adventurous eater will also find green eggs and ham with pesto scrambled eggs, ham and home fries. Or southwest crawfish eggs benny, with two poached eggs on an English muffin with crawfish, tomatoes, onions, hollandaise sauce and home fries.
The lunch menu reflects some of Steinmeier’s favorite childhood food memories, including a fried bologna sandwich with melted American cheese and grilled onions. Or a tuna melt with crushed potato chips and American cheese on white bread.
Cherry pulled pork and smokin’ turkey sandwiches are also popular with the Café’s lunch bunch. The eatery’s eclectic menu also includes chocolate chip and peanut butter pancakes, wraps, burritos, tacos, soups, and an impressive selection of fresh salads.
In addition to the Big Bay Café, Steinmeier also runs a catering business – The Swanky Kitchen – which serves the culinary needs of full-service corporate events, social gathering, private parties, and personal chef needs. They will provide party trays or can custom design a party menu. For more information, call (231) 932-4691 or check

Big Bay Café is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call the restaurant at (231) 932-4690 or check

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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