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Kristi Kates - October 25th, 2010
Do-it-yourself is on the Menu at Murray’s
By Kristi Kates
Doing things themselves is one of the main ways that the owners of Murray’s Bar and Grill in East Jordan keep their restaurant unique.
“Murray’s uses only the freshest ingredients and many Michigan-made products,” Murray’s co-founder Emily Welsh says. “We slice all of our own meats and cheeses, cook our own ribs, and pull our own pork. We make our salsas, dips and sauces from scratch. And Murray’s buys fresh Angus beef, local fish and local fruits and vegetables when in season.”
Founded in 2003, the restaurant/bar was part of the fulfillment of an “Up North” goal, and a way for Murray’s other co-founder, Welsh’s husband Owen, to recover from a serious illness.

“We founded Murray’s in June of 2003 when we were just 23 and 26 years old,” Welsh explains, “we had been living down in the Ann Arbor area so we could be close to the University of Michigan Health System, since Owen was in the middle of a two-year treatment program after he had been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. We had always dreamed of owning our own restaurant and moving back Up North, and the opportunity was too good to pass up.”
The couple decided to live above the business so that Owen Welsh could continue to fight his cancer, and he slowly began to work again, with Emily right alongside.
“Two of our good friends, Sarah and Nathan Richards, also quit their jobs and moved north with us to help us get Murray’s started,” she explains.

Located in downtown East Jordan overlooking the south arm of Lake Charlevoix, Murray’s has what Welsh calls a “casual and friendly environment” that’s perfect for the neighborhood-focused town it resides in. Murray’s offers a deck for outdoor dining, and a large sunroom that overlooks the lake, the city marina, and Memorial Park, which Welsh says is a special focal point.
“Memorial Park has a band shell that hosts Concerts in the Park every Friday in the summer,” she says, “and the Jordan Valley Community Band on Thursday nights. There are many special events and festivals that happen right outside the doors of Murray’s, and we are right in the middle of all of the action.”
The action inside Murray’s, bustling through all four seasons, features historic photos of East Jordan on the walls and large chalkboards that inform the customers of the specials and special events happening in the restaurant and in the area.
“We have a very loyal repeat customer base of regulars, and our locals are very important and vital to our success,” Welsh says, “we also draw a lot of business from the lake. Since the marina has free shoppers’ docks, many people come to Murray’s by boat in the summer for a dining destination. We attract golfers and skiiers from Boyne Mountain, people coming off of the Jordan River after a canoeing, fishing or winter rafting adventure, and people just passing through the area.”

What all of those people are looking for is simply a great, budget-priced meal that’s a step above the usual menu offerings - and that’s exactly what Murray’s is all about. And they insist on utilizing only high-quality ingredients and that aforementioned DIY approach.
“We absolutely love food, and take great pride in the product that we are putting out to our customers,” Welsh explains, “we change our menu twice a year to keep things fresh and exciting.”
Some of Murray’s specialties include their Hand-Dipped Shrimp, their full pound Stuffed Murray Burger, and their Fried Yellow Lake Perch and Fried Whitefish. The Sweet Northern Salad brings together baby leaf spinach, dried cherries, walnuts, bleu cheese crumbles, and Michigan cherry vinaigrette, while the Pulled Pork Sandwich features pork braised in Founder’s Pale Ale from Grand Rapids, slow-cooked for 12 hours, and tossed in Murray’s homemade AppleJack BBQ sauce.
“My favorite menu item right now are the Pork Tostadas,” Welsh enthuses, “three corn tortillas, pulled pork and spices, lettuce, tomato, jalapeno, onion, roasted red peppers and feta cheese with homemade salsa and sour cream - it’s amazing.”
The soups and desserts at Murray’s are all homemade, as well, including their Cheesy Jalapeno Artichoke Soup and their Maple Walnut Bread Pudding, all overseen by Owen Welsh as Kitchen Manager and Connor Dawson as Sous Chef.
“Between the two of them, they have over 25 years of restaurant experience that they bring to Murray’s,” Welsh says.

Murray’s Bar and Grill is located at 115 Main Street in East Jordan, telephone 231-536-3395. They may also be found online at Murray’s opens at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, noon on Sunday.
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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