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The customer counts at Dilbert‘s

Al Parker - October 13th, 2008
When folks in Lake Ann or Interlochen sing the praises of Dilbert’s, they’re not talking about the snarky comic strip that lampoons life in the cubicle jungle of the office workplace.
They’re referring to Dilbert’s Café, a year-old eatery that dishes up seriously good food with a side order of playfulness.
“We have a lot of fun here,” says owner Peggy Luna. “We have lots of laughs in the kitchen and with our customers. I have a great, great staff – my people are phenomenal.”
Situated right on US -31 just west of Interlochen, Dilbert’s Café is a friendly, no-frills place that seats about 50 in booths and tables and serves up heaping plates of comfort food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“I don’t like people to leave hungry,” says Luna, who grew up on a farm in Merrill, near Midland.
As one of 10 children, she learned at a young age how to cook hearty meals for seven brothers who worked the family’s farm. In 1985 she moved to Northern Michigan. “I came up for a weekend and never went back,” she recalls with a laugh. “I got a job right away.”

‘I MISSED MY CUSTOMERS’
After working in a couple of unrelated fields, Luna opened the Lake Ann Café in 1999. In 2006, she sold the café and spent about a year out of the restaurant business before Dilbert’s Café - named after the nickname for her 12-year-old son, Dillon - debuted in September 2007.
“I missed my customers,” she says.
“Lake Ann is a small town and in the restaurant business you get to know everybody. During that year, I just missed them.”
Luna’s affection for her customers is open and genuine. Her menu features more than one item named after regulars, including breakfast favorites “Bob’s Scrambled Stuff” (scrambled eggs with onion, green pepper, ham, mushrooms and cheese) and “Steve’s Hobo Sandwich” (eggs, bacon, pickle, onion, tomato, American cheese and mayo served on grilled bread.)
If you’re in the mood for one of Dilbert’s filling three-egg omelets you might want to try “John’s” (bacon, onion, potato, sour cream and American cheese) or “Dillon’s” (ham, onions, potato and sour cream.)
For lunch, there’s an assortment of satisfying sandwiches, including stacked ham or turkey, reuben, Philly steak, hot turkey, French dip, hot roast beef and meatloaf. Burgers come charbroiled in half-pound or one-third pound sizes.
Salad lovers will find seven different entrees to choose from, including Cobb Salad, Cashew Chicken Salad and a tasty Chicken Fajita Salad.
“Our soups are all homemade,” says Luna. “There’s clam chowder every Friday. Some of our other popular soups are cheddar broccoli, our chili and our white chicken chili. They’re all made from scratch. ”
Comfort food dinner entrées include pot roast, chicken fettuccine, meatloaf and fried chicken. Mexican offerings include nachos, wet burritos, a taco platter and quesadillas of beef, chicken or cheese.
If you have room for dessert, there are cream and fruit pies, cakes and cookies that are all homemade from scratch.

DAILY SPECIALS
A white erasable board features the specials that change daily. Some are planned ahead, while others are spur-of-the-moment specials that the cooks feel like making.
“Sometimes it just depends on how we feel, what we’re hungry for,” says Luna, who does much of the cooking, along with night cook Dan Mikowski.
On a recent day, the specials included lobster spaghetti, pan fried catfish and a Birthday Platter of shrimp scampi, crab-stuffed shrimp and breaded shrimp in honor of a Dilbert’s regular.
Luna’s business philosophy is to keep customers happy and keep her prices down. For example, coffee is only $1 per cup, a bargain in these days of $4 lattes and caffeine-a-cinos.
“I try to keep costs low for my customers,” she explains. “I’d rather have them be able to come back four times in a month rather than just once a month. I never plan to get rich. I just want to be able to pay my bills every month.”

Dilbert’s Café is open Mon. and Tues. - 6a.m. to 2p.m.; Wed. – Fri. 6a.m. to 9p.m. Sat. 7a.m. to 9p.m. and Sun. from 7a.m. to 2p.m. Takeout is available by calling
(231) 275-3005.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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