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Blue Slipper Bistro

Danielle Horvath - August 6th, 2010
A colorful past lingers at the Blue Slipper Bistro
By Danielle Horvath
From it’s early beginnings in the 1880s as a horse stop on the way to Arcadia, to the turn-of-the-century Manistee Brewery Co., to a lively brothel in the ‘30s, the Blue Slipper in Onekama has had many colorful owners in it’s 100-plus year history. Purchased in 1999 by Brian and Chris Kissel, today it remains a popular stop for locals and tourists alike.
The Kissels brought years of restaurant experience and a face-lift to the former biker bar, adding “Bistro” to the name.
Originally from Manistee, Brian attended culinary school and worked for Schelde’s in Grand Rapids. When he was offered an opportunity to move back Up North, Brian relocated and worked at both Bower’s Harbor Inn and Arcadia Bluffs. The Kissels were originally looking for a house to purchase when a realtor told them the business was available.
“It’s in my blood,” he says. “My dad was a chef at the old Coral Gables and at the Portage Point Inn. I always knew I would stay in this business. When we bought this, we knew what we were getting into, we knew there would be long days.”
Known for the casual atmosphere, great friendly service and reasonably priced meals, the Blue Slipper is crowded most weekends all year long.
“When we first were looking, we realized there was no place in the area for a Caesar salad or plate of pasta or a bottle of wine. When we opened, we had just three tables for New Year’s Eve, but by February, the place was packed. It didn’t take long for the word-of-mouth to spread,” Brian said. “The timing was right then for us to purchase, and although our growth is tied to the economy, it is holding it’s own.”

Menus change with the seasons and the staff uses local ingredients whenever they can. Specializing in build-your-own pasta dishes – they offer 15 different homemade sauces from artichoke to marinara – to which you can pair up with a choice of four kinds of pasta, including whole grain, and then add meatballs, portabella mushrooms, or roasted veggies or chicken, shrimp or scallops, all served with fresh Italian bread and a house salad. Summer customer favorites include the grilled salmon topped with cucumber relish, apple-cider cured grilled pork loin or tender sautéed veal and lake perch, dusted and fried.
The Bistro also offers a Caesar salad, hearty burger or pesto chicken club on their yummy homemade bread, along with homemade soups and desserts made daily. They have Bells, Founders, Shorts, and MI Brewing Co. beer on tap and they feature many Michigan wines along with a full bar.
While summer is their busiest season, the Kissels pay close attention to what their regular customers want and offer off-season specials, including free meals for Mother’s and Father’s Day, buy one get one meals and all-you-can-eat perch.

Open 7 days a week year around, 11:30 am – 10 pm during the summer and 11:30 am – 9 pm in the winter, lunches range $5-8, dinners $10 - $25. The Blue Slipper Bistro is located at 8058 First St. in Onekema, call ahead for specials: 231-889-9045.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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