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The Pantry On Tap

November 30, 2016
  • 7634 S. Westnedge Avenue
  • Portage, MI 49002
  • (269) 978-6641
  • Website

Our baby is 1!  B was born on Black Friday last year which made his birthday the Sunday after Thanksgiving this year.  We were very adamant from the beginning he will have a noticeably separate birthday and Christmas.  We weren’t going to let one run in to the other.

We also found out this year that finding a place to have a party on Thanksgiving weekend is going to be tough.  L’s first birthday we had at a Gymboree Play & Music in Illinois with our friends and their kids, but we don’t have a lot of friends with kids near B’s age like we did with L.  Even if we had found a place, we weren’t really sure we’d be able to find a place where all the kids would be entertained.

As much as we didn’t want to do it, we decided to host B’s first birthday party at our house.  I love to entertain…well, let me walk that back a little, I love cooking for people.  Neither of us are really excited about the cleaning the house part and I’m not huge on the small talk part, but the party was mostly family, so we made it work.

The morning of the party, I had to go to Party City to get some balloons blown up and I had to find a smash cake somewhere.  I was sort of thinking about a couple of hors d’ouevres.  J wanted to order pizza from Erbelli’s for the main part of the food, but we had a couple of small snack plates for people when they got there.  One thing I was blanking on was a loaf of ciabatta bread I had bought for Thanksgiving but didn’t use.  Then, I had an epiphany.

I remembered a place that sold flavored olive oils and thought that would be fun for the bread.  It took me a few minutes to think of the name, but when I did, I also realized it was small business Saturday…so double win.

The Pantry on Tap is on South Westnedge in Portage in the Portage Plaza just north of where Westnedge turns into Shaver.  The business is just a couple of doors down from Jac’s Cekola’s Pizza. Read more…

Schlotzsky’s – Downtown Battle Creek

November 29, 2016
  • 14 W. Michigan Avenue
  • Battle Creek, MI 49017
  • (269) 963-2526
  • Website
  • Menu

I love the Battle Creek Christmas Parade.  It’s at night.  They do it down Michigan Avenue which is a really tight street through downtown.  It’s usually not to terribly long.  Parking is pretty easy.  We’ve gone four out of the last five years missing last year’s parade because J was about two weeks from her due date with B.

J’s company enters a float in the parade, so she and the kids usually walk in it.  Since I work at a competing company, I typically walk alongside behind the crowd in case she needs help with the kids.

We made our plans to walk in the parade again this year which started a little earlier than usual.  In the past, we’ve always gone about an hour and a half before the parade started and gotten dinner at Arcadia Brewing Company.  We tried that again this year.  45 minute wait.  We walked back down to Griffin Grill & Pub.  No available tables…..and that’s about the only options.  Malia Mediterranean Bistro was open, but that’s way to fancy with two kids under the age of five.  Rafaynee Southern Cuisine was closed.   It didn’t appear that Pastrami Joe’s was open from across the street.   That didn’t leave us with much choice.

We were already down Michigan Avenue near Griffin and could see a sign for either Subway or Schlotzsky’s.  I think that’s kind of a no-brainer.

We ended up at Schlotzsky’s on Michigan Avenue in Downtown Battle Creek just north of Capitol Avenue.  The store has entrances from both the street front Michigan Avenue side and the backside which is a parking lot off State Street.   Read more…

Thanksgiving 2016

November 20, 2016

Once again, old Thanksgiving post are driving traffic to the blog, so I should probably go ahead and try to put something together for this year.

These are the places that advertise as being open on their websites or social media.  If you know of any other place that will be open at some point on Thanksgiving (besides fast food, Denny’s, or IHOP) please let me know and I’ll try to confirm and add to the list


Fieldstone Grill – regular service
Martell’s – regular service
Terrace Grill at Baypoint Inn –  Thansgiving Brunch – Menu – Reservations Recommended
Henderson Castle  – Thanksgiving Brunch – Reservations Recommended
Theo & Stacy’s Downtown – 11:00 AM – 4:00PM – FREE Thanksgiving Dinner
Firekeeper’s Casino – 10:30 AM-2:30 PM – Thanksgiving Brunch –  Reservations Required
Alamo Drafthouse – regular hours
Sweetwaters Donuts – Open 24 Hours
The Crew Family Restaurant – 5 AM – 10 PM

I’ll keep adding to this as I find places open, but these are the regulars that have been open the last few years.

Chunky Dunk

November 20, 2016

There have been a number of late night food truck rally’s over the summer, but I’m really, really lazy on nights that I don’t work.  I’m super lucky if I make it past 9:00, so getting to a food truck rally that doesn’t start until 10:00 PM  has been out of the question no matter how much I really wanted to try some of the trucks that have been part of the rallys.

I had a job at Western Michigan University this past Friday night and it also happened to be the last late night food truck rally of the season.  My job ended around 11:30, so once we were done, I hopped in my truck and headed towards downtown to see which trucks had decided to brave the windy, cold weather to serve up delicious food.

The rally’s happen on Water Street between Church and Rose Streets.  The rally itself is actually under the part of the Radisson parking ramp that covers Water Street, so had it been snowing or raining, the festival would have been covered, but that didn’t stop the wind from getting in to the tunnel.

While the rally’s take place under a parking ramp, unless you want to walk a couple of blocks from the ramp entrance, you’ll need to find street parking in the area.  There’s nothing on Rose Street, but if you’re patient and know how to navigate the one ways, you can usually find something nearby.  I actually parked on Eleanor and walked on the closed part of Church Street back to the rally area.

It turns out they ended up closing before the 1 AM advertised end time, so I was probably one of the last customers when I got there around 11:45.  A couple of the trucks had already shut down for the night, but the one I was looking for happened to be right near the entrance that I entered from and they were still open.  It looked like the ladies inside were starting to clean up, but one of them noticed me standing there and turned around to help me out.

Read more…

Coexist Cafe

November 20, 2016
  • 2901 Howard Street
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49006
  • (269) 312-8899
  • Website
  • Menu

I’ve spent a lot of time on Western Michigan University’s campus this week.  There’s been a lot going on and a lot of work for my company.

I spent most of the day Friday at WMU and even though it’s close enough for me to go home on my dinner break, I decided to seek out some of the new places around campus.  I’ve tried a couple times now to go to Fifth Avenue which replaced AFB Bar & Grill, but they don’t open until 5:00 (even though their website and Facebook say 11:30) so I’ve failed on both attempts.

While driving through Campus Pointe Mall at the corner of Howard and West Michigan, likely on my way to Wendy’s, I noticed another long empty storefront was filled with another new coffee shop.  I couldn’t find a food menu online, but I figured it had to be better than Wendy’s so I parked my car and took my chances there instead.

Coexist Cafe opened up at the beginning of the summer in the corner space of the Campus Pointe Mall that has housed a couple of burger shops in recent memory.  Both Real Deal: Classic Burgers and Shakes and Sliders Burgers and Belgian Fries haven’t been able to make the location work, but Coexist has totally revamped the space to a point it would be unrecognizable to patrons of the two previous businesses.

Read more…

Fresh Coast Tacos

November 17, 2016
  • 1903 W. Michigan Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49009
  • (312) 269-9569
  • Website
  • Menu

I don’t hang around Western Michigan University much and I sure don’t eat there very often, but I had a quick stop to make on campus near the Bernhard Center and that reminded me of a recommendation I got a while ago about one of their food court options.

Now, the recommendation I had was actually for Santorini Island Grill.  That’s where I was headed when I walked in….but then something else grabbed my attention.

Tacos!  Tacos grabbed my attention.  I love tacos and I love tacos made the right way.

Fresh Coast Tacos is a new addition to the Bronco Mall at the Bernhard Center right in the middle of Western Michigan University’s campus  on West Michigan Avenue.   Read more…

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

November 17, 2016
  • 3777 Plainfield Avenue NE
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49525
  • (616) 916-2638
  • Website
  • Menu

What do you get when you cross a Culver’s and a Steak ‘n Shake?  Stick around, I’m going to tell you.

J and I were sitting on the couch after dinner on Saturday night and I mentioned I was in the mood for ice cream.  I didn’t want to leave the house though and that was a much bigger urge than wanting ice cream, so being lazy won out.  The next morning, after my mention of ice cream, J was in the mood for Culver’s.  I still didn’t want to leave the house, so she offered to go.  I forgot to ask for custard so I still didn’t have what I had been craving.

Fast forward to Sunday night.  I was out on the northwest side of Grand Rapids near Alpine Avenue.  I had time for dinner and I still wanted that ice cream. I knew there was a new chain that had opened not too long ago somewhere on that side of town, so I took to the Googles to start trying to figure out where it was.

Eventually, I remembered the name Freddy’s and found Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers on Plainefield Avenue in front of the Meier in Plainfield Township. Read more…