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Ross Boissoneau - July 17th, 2013  

Good Harbor Grill a Glen Arbor mainstay

In times of trouble, sailors often look for a safe harbor.

Longtime sailors Ann Derrick and Brendan Burrows found that a good harbor is even better, and for the past 22 years, patrons have agreed, making the Good Harbor Grill a favorite eatery.

Derrick and Burrows had long dreamed of owning a restaurant, even while living on a boat and sailing the Caribbean. Their decision 22 years ago to take over the family cottage in Northern Michigan led them to the Red Pine restaurant in Glen Arbor.

“We were living on the boat and thought about moving here,” Derrick recalled. “When we decided to move back, we had to figure out what we were going to do.

“Brendan had worked in restaurants in the States and St. Thomas,” she continued. “He’d learned a lot about the restaurant business.”


Thus the decision to buy the Red Pine restaurant in Glen Arbor. They brought not only some recipes but a nautical theme to the restaurant, which they renamed Good Harbor Grill.

Derrick says returning patrons often look to see what new artwork they have on display inside.

To their surprise, the purchase of the Red Pine came with a bonus – the Pine Cone ice cream shop. But Derrick says that actually turned out to be a bonus in training future staff for the restaurant.

“The two are kind of joined at the hip. They share storage space, freezer space, well and septic.

“It’s a good screening ground for employees. It’s amazing the number of staff who started at the Pine Cone,” she said.

The pair were among the forerunners utilizing the best local ingredients they could find. Derrick would often scour the surrounding countryside to find farm-fresh vegetables. Good Harbor Grill was one of the early partners of the Michigan Land Use Institute’s Farm-to-Table program.

“Buying local has become a whole lot easier,” said Derrick. “We even get things delivered now!”


The menu reflects not only local items but the pair’s decision to offer items not often found in less populated locales, such as tofu scrambles for breakfast; a hearty Italian cioppino soup with lobster, wild caught Gulf shrimp, fish, mussels and sea scallops poached in a rich seafood and tomato broth; a Greek Pita sandwich with falafel, cucumber slices, tomato and a cucumber-dill sauce.

The menus also offer a selection of steaks, seafood, pasta and salads. But with all that, the fan favorite is typically Northern Michigan.

“The most popular is the whitefish, hands down,” said Derrick. “We prepare it several dif ferent ways, do a lot of specials.”

For herself, however, she looks to the soups and the turkey sandwiches as among her favorite items. “For years I made all the soups. I had quite a collection of recipes.

As to the turkey, Derrick says it is roasted in-house, then used in a number of different ways, including sandwiches, wraps and soups. “We roast it with the bone in – it’s not deli turkey. We make our own stock for turkey soup.”

She believes part of their longevity in the business has been the fact they have kept the restaurants seasonal.

“I think we would have burned out otherwise,” she said. Now she looks to kitchen manager Ben Higgins and their son John Burrows to take on the lion’s share of the work. Their other son grew up in the business as well, but has since moved to California.

But patrons still find Ann and Brendan putting in their time, both at the Pine Cone and Good Harbor Grill. That’s in addition to running Glen Arbor Botanicals, the gallery they own which features art inspired by the plant world.

And by keeping it seasonal, they still find time to ply the waters of the Caribbean in the off-season.

Good Harbor Grill is located at 6584 Western Ave. in Glen Arbor. Call 334-3555 or go online to It is open 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. seven days in the summer. It is open mid-May to mid-October, with off-season hours offering dinner only on the weekend.

Don’t miss: Cherry Pecan Whitefish (or Lake Trout). Locally caught, baked in a savory crust of pecans, dried tart cherries, spices and bread crumbs, with the rice or potato.

Dinners begin at $15, sandwiches at $6.75.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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