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Park Place Cafe

Al Parker - July 12th, 2010
Cadillac’s Park Place Café offers star power on a shoestring
By Al Parker
So you’re getting ready to launch a new eatery and there are certain
essentials you need to open the doors, right?
Gotta’ have a stove or large tabletop grill, of course. Maybe a deep
fryer and spacious oven too.
Well, there’s a cozy Cadillac café whose motto might as well be “No
Stove, No Fryer, No Problem.”
“Everything we make is done on three George Foreman grills, two hot
plates and a toaster oven,” says a smiling Sue Forrester,
owner-operator of the Park Place Café, a tiny, but tasteful,
restaurant tucked along Cadillac’s main drag, South Mitchell Street.
A native of Tennessee, Forrester had no formal training as a chef, but
achieved a lifetime goal when she opened the restaurant in April 2009.
“I worked in entertainment for over 20 years and in and out of the
food business for 33 years,” says the outgoing Forrester in her soft
Tennessee drawl. “Food is my passion. It’s what I was meant to do. I
just picked it up naturally. Even as a teenager, I hoped to have my
own restaurant some day.”
The friendly café has a comfortable vibe and is pretty much a
one-woman operation. Forrester gets some help from “significant other”
Paul Riplow and a handful of part-timers who pitch in when they can.
Her country cooking background is evident in the menu, which features
seven tasty salads, about a dozen different sandwiches, homemade
soups, a variety of hot dogs and interesting daily specials.

STAR POWER
Forrester and Riplow, who grew up in Cadillac, spent some 20 years
working as crew members for scores of country music and rock stars,
including Brooks & Dunn, Travis Tritt, Randy Travis, ZZ Top and many
others. She honed her cooking skills by preparing chow for the crews
and stars on the road.
The café is decorated with dozens of backstage passes to the shows
they worked on. There’s also a wall with autographed photos of some of
the entertainment stars they got to know, including Rita Moreno,
Robert Goulet, Rich Little and Mitzi Gaynor.
Like a lot of entrepreneurs, Forrester put her life savings into the
restaurant, seats only 15 inside and two dozen more on a comfy patio
outside. “We opened this place with every dime we had, $72,” she
recalls with a chuckle.
“She wasn’t in business two days and people came in saying that her
reuben was the best in town,” adds Riplow.
With no money left for advertising, Forrester depended on
word-of-mouth and repeat business to be successful. She drew more
attention when she was recently awarded a 2010 Food Safety Award.
Despite no previous restaurant experience, she was savvy enough to
know that warm service and quality food would be vital to surviving
that turbulent first year.
“Everybody who walks in here is special,” says Forrester. “We know
their names, their kids names, their grandkids names. They’re family.”

THE YARD BIRD
Perhaps the most popular “Yard Bird” sandwich is the Park Place
Special, featuring turkey, provolone, roasted red peppers, tomato,
black olive tapanade and balsamic vinaigrette on a grain sub roll
($5.99). Other diners like the “Chicken Dave” (named after Riplow’s
father) that features a grilled boneless chicken breast, bacon, Swiss
cheese, lettuce, tomato and a house-made ranch mayo on a toasted
Kaiser roll ($5.75).
Ham fans will want to taste test “The Great Smokey,” featuring smoked
ham, smoked gouda, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and honey
mustard on a toasted Kaiser roll ($5.50). Or perhaps “The Hillbilly,”
a hefty ham, capacola, and salami concoction topped with black olives,
mild pepper rings, red onion and your choice of cheese ($5.95).
Beef eaters can try the “Tennessee Jack Dip” featuring roast beef,
grilled sweet bell peppers and onions, pepper jack cheese on a grilled
grain sub and served with au just dipping sauce ($5.95).
The menu features three tasty items for specifically for vegetarians,
including a “Vegi Roller” with fresh house-made hummus, spring greens
mix, tomato, cucumber and avocado ($5.95); a “Pocket Full of Vegies”
stuffed pita with spring greens, tomato, red onion, avocado, cucumber,
mild pepper rings and served with a balsamic vinaigrette ($5.50); and
a Vegi BLT featuring veggie bacon, crisp lettuce and tomato served on
your choice of toasted sour dough, an artisan grain bread or a wrap
($5.75).
All of the Park Place Café’s dressings are made in-house and fresh
daily. Be sure to ask about the homemade desserts, which change
regularly.
Forrester eagerly works with local suppliers when possible and gets
most of her fresh veggies from a down-the-street neighbor, The Willows
Mercantile. She also shops at farmer’s markets when she can. “We
really like to support our local businesses whenever we can,” says
Forrester. “Without your local, you don’t have anything.”

Park Place Café, at 108 South Mitchell St. in Cadillac, is open
Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 4p.m., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and
closed on Sunday. For more information or takeout orders, call
(231)775-5550.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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