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Stony Sub

May 18, 2022
  • 8440 S. Stony Island Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60617
  • (773) 978-4000
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

J’s parents moved from the Chicago suburbs to a lake in St. Joseph County a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I love that they’re much closer and the kids can enjoy the lake all summer but I really do miss our trips to their house which would inevitably involve me finding a late night sandwich shop after everyone went to bed.

I was in Chicago this past weekend for a White Sox game. It was just me as I met up with my dad, brother, and a childhood friend. We do it every year and it’s typically a day trip for me now. My dad always wants me to drive back to his house after the game but it’s another hour south of Guaranteed Rate Field and with gas prices the way they are, I chose to just come home after the game.

I will take any excuse I can get to go to Chicago and when I’m by myself, I like to find food, especially on the southside, that my family really wouldn’t be interested in.

Pre-game, I hit up Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicastessen near the Loop for an amazing pastrami sandwich. Post-game, it was time to find that 24 hour sandwich shop.

I hopped on the Dan Ryan going south after leaving the game but instead of getting on the Skyway to head home, I stayed on I-94. My destination? Stony Sub.

Stony Sub is on Stony Island Avenue near 84th Place in Chicago’s Marynook Neighbrohood on the southeast side of the city. The small, 24 hour building has been a southside staple for decades for it’s sandwiches but their claim to fame is a sandwich that is so ridiculous looking that it shouldn’t taste as amazing as it does.

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Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen

May 16, 2022

  • 1141 S. Jefferson Street
  • Chicago, IL 60607
  • (312) 939-2855
  • Website
  • Menu

We started a tradition with my bachelor party in 2009. I didn’t want to do any of the traditional bachelor party crap. I just wanted to go to a baseball game.

We got all of my groomsmen and my dad, ordered wings for a tailgate, and watched the Boston Red Sox beat the White Sox at US Cellular Field.

Every year since 2009, my dad, my brother, and my best friend from grade school have continued to get together for a game at what is now Guaranteed Rate Field. My buddy has access to a season ticket plan with seats right behind home plate, we continue to get wings every year, and we ended up drinking a little bit of beer while waiting to see what is almost always a loss.

Finding a weekend we’re all available is getting harder and harder. We all have kids in sports and now that my friend and my brother are getting towards the high school aged kids, even early in the season is getting tough.

We had to pick between a weekend in April and a weekend in May. We chose the weekend in May because my brother doesn’t do cold very well.

My kids are starting to get old enough I’m getting into sports as well. My son had a T-Ball game Saturday morning and J had a work event so I needed to stay home until everything was done. The Sox game was at 6:10 Central so that wasn’t really an issue.

I left Kalamazoo around noon. It was still way to early to leave but I did have plans to stop for lunch before heading over to the park.

I pulled in to Chicago around 1:30 Central. I headed straight to Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen for lunch.

Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen is in Chicago’s Near West Side on Jefferson Street near Roosevelt Road just a few blocks off the Dan Ryan Expressway. The family owned classic Jewish deli has been a Chicago staple since the 1940’s. It really came in to the national conversation when former President Barak Obama shared that it was one of his favorite Chicago lunch spots.

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Burger Boss

May 10, 2022

  • 806 Riverview Drive, Suite B
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49048
  • (269) 888-2084
  • Website
  • Menu

Man, do I have a love affair with burgers.

I’ve blogged extensively over the years about burgers…always on the look out for “the best.”

Burgers can be super simple frozen patties on white bread or they can be amazing creations starting with freshly ground meat. It’s one of the rare foods that you never really know what you’re getting when you sit down in a restaurant and order one.

Burger Bros had been one of my go-to burger places in the Kalamazoo area. It was quick, simple, and delicious. Unfortunately, they closed a few months ago leaving hole in the quick service burger landscape.

Fortunately, someone saw that opening and quickly filled it.

Burger Boss opened not quite a month ago on the corner of Riverview Drive and Bridge Street in Kalamazoo’s Eastside Neighborhood. The small shop takes over the former Burger Bros/Lil’ Brothers BBQ space in the strip mall next to the 13 1/2 Party Store.

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Bread & Butter Kitchen

April 28, 2022
  • 220 W. Chicago Road
  • Sturgis, MI 49091
  • (269) 319-6065
  • Website
  • Menu

I’ve spent a lot of time in Sturgis the past couple years but really haven’t knocked as many restaurants off my list as I had hoped I would have by now.

We cook out a lot when we’re at my in-laws. The whole point of a lake house is to spend the weekend on the lake, not in a restaurant somewhere.

I’ve gotten sent to Sturgis a few times recently for work which isn’t typical. We rarely get assignments that far south but we’ve had a couple recently.

Tuesday was one of those days. We really just had to run for Sturgis for about a half hour of actual work.

We did what we needed to do and my co-worker mentioned to me that he didn’t really have breakfast and was hungry. I told him to hang on….I was planning on stopping for lunch.

We headed towards downtown Sturgis to find Bread and Butter Kitchen.

Bread & Butter Kitchen is on Chicago Road in downtown Sturgis just to the east of Clay Street. There is street parking out front but there is also a municipal parking lot behind the row of buildings. The breakfast and lunch spot opened up last fall in the space previously use by Boundary Waters Kitchen which closed before the pandemic in August of 2019.

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M-89 Cinema

April 27, 2022
  • 392 Cross Oaks Drive
  • Plainwell, MI 49080
  • (269) 637-1662
  • Website

Things didn’t really work out the way they were supposed to so J and L went to Dearborn without me for L’s ice skating competition last weekend.

Those long days sitting in an ice arena are no fun for B so J left him home with me. J’s mom and dad came up from Sturgis to watch him until I could get home from work.

Saturday was pretty much just us boys for the better part of the day. B got up at 6 AM (yeah, I don’t get up that early) and went straight to the basement to play Fortnite. We’ve had some attitude issues so he only gets Friday evenings and Saturday to play Fortnite and he was going to take advantage of mom not being home.

Around 11:30 I asked him if he wanted to go see a movie. I thought it’d be good to get out of the house even if we were just going to go someplace else to sit.

I have never read any of The Bad Guys books but my daughter loves them. B’s just really learning how to read and he’s gotten in to them a little bit as well. The Bad Guys movie opened this past weekend and I asked if he’d be interested in seeing it.

I typically go to Kalamazoo 10 for movies just because it’s close. On this day, I felt like doing something different.

I drove up to Plainwell to go to the M-89 Cinema.

M-89 Cinema is, as the name implies, on M-89/Allegan Street. More technically, it’s on Cross Oaks Drive which is the access road in to the Oaks Crossing Shopping Center right off M-89 to the west of US-131 in Otsego Township. The movie theater takes up a pretty large chunk of the strip mall on the east side of the complex.

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Greco’s Pizza

April 27, 2022
  • 5380 Division Avenue South
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49548
  • (616) 530-8500
  • Website
  • Menu

My plans never work out the way they’re supposed to.

L had an ice skating competition in Dearborn this past weekend. Our plan was to get up Saturday morning and drive over. Then, we got the schedule. Her first event was at 7:30 AM. There was no way we were going to make her get up at 4 AM to get to Dearborn.

We found a reasonably priced hotel not too far from the ice arena. Our plan then was to drive over Friday night after I got off work. Well…..I was forced to work in Grand Rapids which means an hour commute home…meaning we wouldn’t even leave Kalamazoo until sometime around 8:00. That’s still way too late.

J decided she was just going to take L by herself. We hate dragging B to these things anyway because they’re long days. J’s parents came up to our house to watch B until I was able to get home while J and L left for Dearborn when L got home from school around 4:30.

That mean I was on my own for dinner. I never actually made it in to the office near downtown. My work site was kind of the southeast side of town.

For years I have passed small pizza places in this part of Grand Rapids/Kentwood but I’ve never ordered from them. Now seemed like a good time to pick one.

I did a Google search and looked at pictures. Which place I had the kind of pizza that I liked and which offered online ordering?

I chose Greco’s Pizza on South Division and Kellogg Woods Drive/54th Street. The pizza place is in a strip mall on the northwest corner of the intersection accessible from both Kellogg Woods Drive and Division Street.

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StrEATs Taco Kitchen

April 23, 2022
  • 14 S. Elm Street
  • Zeeland, MI 49464
  • (616) 7447-8226
  • Website
  • Menu

I don’t eat out in Zeeland very often. Even when I worked in Grand Rapids, I’d find myself in the area quite a bit but Zeeland’s downtown is just far enough of the I-196 BL that I never really went looking for food.

A colleague and I were in Zeeland last week on an assignment. It wasn’t going to take long but we had to make the trip from our Kalamazoo office because there was no one available in the Grand Rapids office. Little road trips are fun every now and then.

We did what we needed to do and were finished around lunch time. We ran in to a former colleague and she pointed us towards Frank’s for lunch. I looked it up and it appeared to be a sit down service restaurant which we really didn’t have time for.

I always have some place to eat when I travel somewhere and this trip was no different. I found a taco place which I assumed would be pretty quick and not far from where we were at.

StrEATs Taco Kitchen (their stylizing, not mine) is on Elm Street just south of East Main in downtown Zeeland. The restaurant is owned by the property management company that owns the building. According to a Holland Sentinel article, they knew the property would make a good restaurant location and since no one else was interested, they opened it themselves. Just using Goggle street view, it appears the building has been empty for a while.

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Wharton Center for the Performing Arts

April 21, 2022
  • 750 E. Shaw Lane
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • (517) 432-2000
  • Website

It was finally time to cash in L’s Christmas present.  

L became obsessed with the musical Hamilton a few years ago.  J and I had went to see it at the PrivateBank Theatre in Chicago then listened to the soundtrack quite often in the car on road trips after that.  L’s becoming somewhat of a history buff as she gets older and has went all in on the life of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler.  

We took her to see Hamilton for the first time a couple of years ago when it was at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids.  Our seats weren’t very good.  I had actually gotten tickets in the very last row of the balcony thinking we were going to bring B and I would need an escape route if he couldn’t sit through it.  

The seats didn’t matter.  L loved it.  She bought a dress and wore it around the house proclaiming she was Elizabeth Schuyler while she sang the soundtrack all day long.

The obsession has tapered off a bit but she still really likes the show and when we found out it was going back on tour after the pandemic subsided a little bit, she asked if we could go.  

J and I like it enough we didn’t mind seeing it a third time.  I was going to buy cheap tickets again but J’s mom stepped in.  When J was young, her uncle would always buy theater tickets for her and they were always the expensive seats up front.  Nana wanted to give L that experience.  

We chose to go to the show in East Lansing at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts.  The East Lansing run of the show was later in the spring than the second run in Grand Rapids so we were hoping that if the pandemic was still raging in the winter, it would subdue a little bit by April.  

The Wharton Center for Performing Arts is on the campus on Michigan State University.  The theater is technically on Shaw Lane at Bogue Street but the parking ramp entrance is actually on Wilson Road on the back side of the building.  We skipped the parking ramp all together (which was charging $10) and parked just down the street at Fee Hall.  Because it was a weekend, there were no parking restrictions and we it was just a short walk past the IM Fields to the theater.  

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Crunchy’s

April 18, 2022
  • 254 W. Grand River Avenue
  • East Lansing, MI 48823
  • (517) 351-2506
  • Website
  • Menu

We created a monster.

J and I have always been theater fans. J did a number of shows in high school while I was more of a jock and, at that time, couldn’t admit that I liked musical theater.

I had to take a class my freshman year of high school on music theory. The teacher was a big fan of Cats. We did a whole month breaking down the music and lyrics then she took us to see a performance at the Chicago Theatre. I fell in love with the show. J hates it and refuses to go see it with me again (I drug her to one performance at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts many years ago).

J and I have seen a number of shows over the years but there’s only one we’ve seen more than once. Hamilton.

The first time J and I saw Hamilton was during the initial height of it’s popularity. I was fortunate enough to snag a couple of last row tickets from the box office for a performance at The PrivateBank Theatre in Chicago. We really lucked out on this one. A few weeks after I got the tickets, it was announced Wayne Brady would play the roll of Aaron Burr. It was a really cool thing to see.

We bought the soundtrack after that and played it….often. So often in fact that L started listening to it and fell in love with the show before ever seeing it. We took her to see it for the first time when it came to Grand Rapids in 2020 right before the world shut down at DeVos Performance Hall. She’s been obsessed ever since.

The musical is back on tour this year and J’s mom decided she wanted to get L good seats….like really good seats, for Christmas. We chose the East Lansing performance because it would be later in the spring and hopefully COVID worries would subside by then.

L spent the night at one of her friend’s house the night before the show. We picked her up at 10 AM after they ate breakfast and started heading towards East Lansing. We were going to be pretty early so I suggested we do lunch before heading to the Wharton Center.

We were in East Lansing last month for an ice skating competition. We tried to go to Crunchy’s for lunch but it was during the NCAA tournament and the place was packed. We didn’t have that much time so we ended up going to The Pizza House instead.

We had more time and it was a pretty quite Sunday so we thought we’d give Crunchy’s another try.

Crunchy’s is pretty synonymous with East Lansing and Michigan State University. It was one of the first “college bars” we visited when we moved to Lansing in 2008.

The restaurant is on Grand River Avenue and Valley Court right in front of Valley Court Park just to the west of downtown East Lansing. The Spartan green building isn’t hard to find but parking can be tricky during the busy hours. There’s a lot right next to the building but it fills up fast and there are warnings all around not to park at another business.

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Brick and Brine

April 15, 2022
  • 100 W. Michigan Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • (269) 343-4444
  • Website
  • Menu

I love my kids and wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world…but sometimes it’s just nice to go to a meal without them.

We didn’t eat out for close to a year and a half during the pandemic. Once everyone was vaccinated, we slowly worked our way back in to our normal routine. We’re eating in restaurants again which we enjoy, but can be a lot when dealing with kids who would rather be at home playing video games.

We kind of got lucky last weekend. L had her first sleepover for a friend’s birthday. We assumed we’d still have B but J’s mom offered to take him for the night. We were picking L up from her friend’s house then heading to East Lansing to see Hamilton for the third time. J’s mom was planning on watching B for us and figured it’d be easier if she just took him on Saturday night.

That left just J and I. We absolutely knew we had to get out for dinner. There are a couple of dinner only fancier places that we’ve been wanting to get to.

We picked the new restaurant from Greenleaf Hospitality.

Brick and Brine is in the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo on the corner of Michigan and Rose. The restaurant is on the Kalamazoo Mall side of the hotel behind Old Burdick’s. It takes the space that was formally occupied by Zazio’s.

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