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Giovanni‘s Roadhouse

Danielle Horvath - February 8th, 2010
Giovanni’s Roadhouse
A taste of Italy upholds its tradition in Interlochen
By Danielle Horvath
Giovanni’s Roadhouse in Interlochen received a makeover when new
owners purchased it just over two years ago, but it remains true to
its roots – serving good comfort food in a cozy and friendly
atmosphere.
Just down the road from Interlochen Center for the Arts, the popular
Italian restaurant on U.S. 31 has a long-standing reputation for
excellence and long lines are often the norm in the summer months.
New owners Jeff and Trish Wiltse are no strangers to the area food
scene; their other establishments in nearby Traverse City include
Bubba’s, Firefly Café & Lounge, Grand View Catering and TC Food to Go.
Giovanni’s has had just two owners in it’s 40-year history, with the
last 20 specializing in classic Italian food. As such, the Wiltses
were careful to preserve its ethnic heritage along with its “up north”
ambience.
But there have been changes: The natural wood floors have been brought
to life with a spruce-up; the bar space and outdoor patio have been
expanded; some trees out front were cut to let in more light; and
they’ve opened a second entrance. The menu has also been expanded
with weekly specials. The result is an inviting, comfortable, and airy
feel.

CHEF’S ODYSSEY
Manager John Waslawski says that customers like the new look and menu
and the staff is working hard to maintain its local following. With a
degree in food science from CMU, Waslawski also has a history in the
local food industry. In the 1990s he was a member of the Exquisite
Edibles food outlets team before delving into the technology industry
for a few years until the opportunity to manage Giovanni’s was
offered.
Waslawski didn’t hesitate to jump in. “Giovanni’s is well-known in the
Interlochen area for having great value and good food, with a loyal
customer base, I knew we could continue those traditions and even
improve on some,” he says.
Waslawski and a dedicated crew worked 70-80 hour weeks for eight weeks
on renovations and improvements and re-opened as Giovanni’s Roadhouse
in June of ’07.
Today, Delta blues plays in the background as Waslawski notes that
Giovanni’s kept the house favorite through the makeover: baked lasagna
and an impressive selection of pasta dishes, all made with homemade
sauces. The restaurant also takes pride in offering fresh and local
ingredients when possible.
“We get our meat fresh from Louie’s Meats in Traverse City, and use
farm-raised catfish for our new southern fried catfish dinner that is
getting raves from our customers,” he says.

WHAT’S COOKIN’
Giovanni’s has also added pot roast and prime rib and roasted chicken
dinners. There are also 12 personal pan pizza choices – from Greek to
Thai to BBQ chicken. Other choices include Mexican fare, burgers and
wraps. Weekly specials include a burger and a beer for $3 on
Wednesdays, prime rib dinner for $8.95 on Thursdays, and their popular
Sunday Gospel brunch from noon – 3 p.m., with yummy omelets for under
$7.
“In these challenging economic times we know people are pulling back,”
Waslawski says, “Our philosophy is to lower prices, offer more variety
and specials and do what we can to make their experience even better.
We have opened earlier; we have daily specials and a Happy Hour that
lasts all day, from 11 am – 7 pm. We also offer an Early Bird special
of 25% off the menu from 3-5:30 everyday.”
Happy Hour specials include all well drinks at $1.75, a glass of house
wine is just $2.50, a pint of Pabst beer is always $1.50 and domestic
bottled beer are $2. All other drinks are $1 off.

Open daily and Sundays11:30 am – 10 pm, Saturdays til 11, Giovanni’s
Roadhouse is just a stone’s throw from Interlochen corners at 9205 US
31. Call for updated specials at 231-276-6244.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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