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Boone Docks

Ross Boissoneau - June 13th, 2011
On Deck at the Boone Docks
By Ross Boissoneau
People in Glen Arbor know where to go for the action. And for twigs and a brush pile too.
Those are actually two of the items on the woodsy-themed menu at Boone Docks. If the twigs (toasted black bean spring rolls) or brush pile (French fries with bacon, cheese and tomatoes) aren’t for you, then maybe you’d prefer the battered bear toes (mozzarella sticks), or a pile of wood chips (a.k.a. nachos).
That woodsy theme extends to the décor, with knotty pine and stone predominant in the friendly, casual interior. 
And if you’re looking for live music and a lively atmosphere, then the exterior is the place to be. You can join the revelry from the deck nightly in the summer. 
“We’ve got live music every night,” said Boone Docks owner Bob Ewing, between serving drinks and watching out for the little ones scurrying around the deck.
That combination – lively music, festive food, and a family atmosphere – encapsulates Ewing’s philosophy. 
“We’re a fun, family restaurant,” Ewing said. “You look at the deck, and you’ll always have eight or ten kids running around. 
“Some places might not appreciate that, but that’s what we’re all about. In some restaurants, the kids get antsy. We love it.”

Ewing has spent pretty much all his life in the restaurant industry. He started working at Don’s Drive-In as a youngster, then  moved on to the Embers on the Bay in Traverse City. By his seventh year there he was running the kitchen. His affection for the restaurant and owner Keith Charters is obvious. 
Then it was off to the Culinary Institute of America for more training. Upon graduating, he worked in restaurants in New York, Florida and California. But a call from home got him packing.
“Bob Kuras was looking for someone for the Homestead. Keith Charters told me about it. I always wanted to come back to Traverse City,” Ewing said.
So he ran the food and beverage department and was executive chef for seven years, until another opportunity presented itself when Barry Boone decided to sell his Glen Arbor restaurant. Ewing bit, and now, 13 years later, is still enjoying himself.
Part of that enjoyment comes from the fact so much of the business is seasonal. Rather than bemoan that fact, Ewing embraces it. In the summer he’s running the show at Boone Docks, and in the slower months he’s available to be a family man, spending time with his kids at school. 
“I have kids who are in elementary through high school,” he said. “I coach, I’m involved in school.”

That involvement has even helped his restaurant business. He is able to become acquainted with students at his kids’ school, and many of them end up working at the restaurant. 
“I’ve hired countless kids. They start out at the ice cream parlor, then move on to be bussers or hostess before becoming servers or bartenders.” The result is a mix of junior high, high school and college students alongside the adults. Ewing says the staff numbers about 80 at the peak of the season.
Ewing doesn’t miss a trick with the food either. In addition to those woodsy specials, including campfire chicken and a cord of BBQ pork ribs, the menu includes sandwiches, salads, seafood and steaks. “We’ve got great steaks,” affirmed Ewing. 
Prices are comparable to most establishments, with entrees running from $15.95 to $26.95.
And about the music, including members of New Third Coast and Three Hour Tour. While it certainly keeps the crowd entertained, Ewing makes certain it doesn’t go too far. “It’s not rock bands,” he said. “It’s Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles, entertainment for dinner. There’s no drums, it’s not a concert. 
“The music stops at 10. We don’t want to bother the neighbors.”

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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