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Good Harbor Grill

Al Parker - June 15th, 2006
Ann Derrick and Brendan Burrows have crafted what some folks would consider a dream lifestyle.
They winter aboard a 30-year-old sailboat, cruising the lustrous, blue waters of the Caribbean and spend their summers running their restaurant, Glen Arbor’s popular Good Harbor Grill.
It may sound idyllic, but it’s also a lot of hard work, say the couple, who are celebrating 15 years of owning the eatery, which is nestled at the corner of M-22 and M-109.
“We’re open for five months – May through September,” explains Brendan. “So there’s plenty to do each spring to prepare the restaurant for our visitors.”
Ann and Brendan, plus their two sons, Josh and Cos, are joined annually by a staff of about 20 young people who make the Good Harbor Grill a friendly, service-oriented place to enjoy a relaxing meal. Their staff is a mix of local residents and summer kids.
“We rely on our staff so much,” says Ann. “Many of them work with us year after year. They have a sense of ownership in the place.”

The building that houses the Good Harbor Grill was originally a beach shop that sold swimwear. Sometime in the 1960s, it became a hot dog stand named the Red Pine. There was an addition made and The Pine Cone ice cream shop was built next door, which Ann and Brendan also own and operate. The next owners, Craig and Judy Karnak, made the place famous for its one pound pork chop. It was pretty much the only restaurant in town and there was often a line of hungry folks out the door.
A couple of other owners ran the Red Pine until Brendan and Ann bought the place in 1991. They renamed it the Good Harbor Grill and remodeled the dining room in a nautical theme, with sea charts and interesting art of harbors around the world.
They also remade the menu in their image of what they wanted in every good harbor: fresh bread, fresh vegetables and salad, something interesting and just plain good to eat. The kind of place we all want to discover when looking for a quality meal.
“We try to make every meal interesting,” explains Brendan. “We have no prepared products, every pepper or onion you eat has been chopped by a cook.”
The breakfast menu offers the standard fare of eggs, pancakes, and waffles. But a couple of items stand out as unusual. There’s a Crab Cake Benedict – a poached egg atop a rich and meaty Maryland crab cake poised on an English muffin and topped with Hollandaise sauce and fresh basil. And lighter eaters will be tempted by their fresh baked Good Harbor Coffee Cake, a rich and tasty cinnamon treat dotted with Michigan dried cherries.

A roasted Turkey Breast sandwich highlights the lunch menu. They roast a turkey breast every day and serve it on home-baked, cracked wheat with lettuce, tomato, purple onion and a slice of Dill Havarti cheese. “It’s our best selling sandwich,” says Brendan. “But people rave about our soups too.”
Each day there is a meat soup and a vegetable soup, with the obligatory clam chowder on Fridays. The menu also includes three chilis – a hearty, spicy beef version full of sirloin steak and ground beef, a vegetarian black bean, and a flavorful white chili.
Good Harbor Grill’s fresh green salad is a special feature with the dinner menu. All dinners come with a salad, served in a large bowl family style at the table. They use local produce in season and organically grown greens. “We always serve a real good salad,” says Brendan. “We decided early on not to serve iceberg lettuce in our salads. We use fresh, quality greens.”
The dinner menu features about two dozen items, including standards such as whitefish, sirloin steak, and grilled chicken. But there also some items that are seldom seen on northern Michigan menus, including:
Beef Satay, sirloin steak bathed in a light curry marinade, then grilled with a kabob of fresh vegetables and served over a seven grain rice mix.
Grilled lamb served with a kabob of grilled vegetables and a special homemade mint dipping sauce. It is paired with an aromatic couscous.
Thai peanut pasta, which features fresh vegetables sautéed in toasted sesame oil and tossed with linguine in a spicy Thai style sauce, then topped with chopped peanuts.
Cioppino, a hearty Italian seafood soup made with lobster, shrimp, fish, mussels, and scallops in a rich tomato broth. It’s dinner in a bowl. After whitefish, it’s the best selling item on the Good Harbor Grill’s dinner menu.

Another dinner highlight for weekend diners is fresh fish arriving from Florida. “Every weekend we offer fresh Florida fish, such as tuna, grouper and mahi” says Brendan. “It’s packed at 7 a.m. in Florida and arrived here in Glen Arbor by 3 p.m. You can’t get Florida fish much fresher than that.”
If you’d like to relax with a drink on their front porch, the Good Harbor Grill offers beer and wines. The modest, but interesting wine list includes local choices, as well as selections from California, Italy, Australia, Spain, and France. Their beer selection includes the standard domestics, plus some pleasing brews such as Manitou Amber Ale and Sleeping Bear Brown Ale, both from Traverse Brewery, and Boddington’s English Ale.
Except for the fish from Florida, the Good Harbor Grill mainly relies on local outlets for their supplies. “Our thing is to offer as much local, fresh summer food and to rely on our local help,” says Brendan. “It’s not always easy to get local items, but we try to as often as we can.”
Just as their restaurant has grown and developed over the years, so has the restaurant scene throughout Leelanau County.
“There’s an amazing collection of good restaurants in this county,” says Brendan. “We like to think that many of our customers come back year after year because they see us as a part of their yearly vacation.”
For more information, call the Good Harbor Grill at (231) 334-3555.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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