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Crumbl Cookies (Oshtemo Township)

January 18, 2022
  • 5097 Century Avenue, Suite B
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49006
  • (269) 8885427
  • Website
  • Menu

It’s taken a while but a lot of the things promised to us when the homes and trees were cleared off Century Avenue so a Costco could be built are taking shape.

For such a long time, we had Costco, a bunch of empty storefronts, and multiple banks. We were promised food and shopping. It’s been slow going but there are actually quite a few food options and some pretty good shopping.

One store we’ve been patiently waiting for is Crumbl Cookies. The sign went up probably last spring on the storefront between MOD Pizza and Chowhound right off Century Drive but for the longest time, it was just an empty storefront. No was being done. Trust me. We checked every time we went to MOD.

Finaly, we saw a “Grand Opening” sign. J wasted no time stopping to get cookies one night and holy cow were they good. I wasn’t with her that night, so no blog….but L and I went ice skating this past weekend and once we got done, I asked if she wanted to stop and get cookies for J and B.

Crumbl Cookies is in the Corner@Drake shopping plaza on the corner of Drake Road and Stadium Drive. The building is on Century Avenue which cuts between Drake Road and Michigan Avenue. The deep, narrow storefront has pretty much been empty since the shopping center was built.

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Famous Famiglia Pizzeria (Miami)

January 16, 2022
  • 2100 NW 42nd Avenue
  • South Terminal, Concourse H-J Connector
  • Miami, FL 33142
  • (305) 871-0559
  • Website
  • Menu

Time to come home.  I was complaining because it was so hot and humid during our time in Miami but I knew we were coming home to below freezing temps and snow.  I was ready to get home, out of the heat, and to my family, but not ready for the cold that was about to greet us.  

I messed up when I got our rental car for the week.  I thought our departure was 11:50 AM.  It was actually 1:50 AM.  I had the car until 10 AM and I couldn’t extend it a few hours without paying for another full day.  That means we had to get to the airport way too early.  

The Miami airport is pretty big and it takes a while to get the car checked in, take the shuttle to the terminal, get checked in and get through security…but it doesn’t four hours.  I had to check in at the ticket counter because I have special baggage with a special rate and we were still through TSA before 11.

I had to go get souvenirs for the kids so we kind of went our own way for a while before boarding.  Co-Worker went to look for a place to nap while I hunted down some overpriced “Miami” t-shirts.  

There weren’t a lot of food options at the airport which I found pretty disappointing.  I was planning on sitting down somewhere and eating a burger with a beer or two while we waited.  I didn’t really run across anything like that while I was walking around.  

I eventually found a pizza place and decided that was probably the best I was going to do in this terminal.  

Famous Famiglia Pizzeria is between the H and J concourse in what they call the “Connector” in the south terminal at the Miami International Airport.  The pizza place is part of a little food court area that also has a McDonalds, Gilbert’s Food Bar, and La Pausa…which actually would have worked as a sit down place if I really wanted to go that way.  There are a couple of other restaurants in the area but they were all closed.

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Manhattan New York Pizza

January 12, 2022
  • 1923 Cordova Road
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
  • (954) 990-4757
  • Website
  • Menu

There is almost never a time that I will travel somewhere and not get a pizza. My travel companions usually ask where I’m going expecting me to say Papa Johns or Dominos…but hell no. We’re going to find some place local.

Our third day in Miami was a long day. We had to do a lot of driving around the Miami metro area…and if you’ve ever been to Miami, you know how taxing that can be. I grew up near Chicago and have done a lot of driving in the Chicago area and that seems like a cake walk compared to Miami.

We got back to our hotel rooms right around 6:30. We both still had some work to do individually. Co-worker wanted to get on it right away because there was a social event he was wanting to go to. I wasn’t in a hurry because I’m not a social person.

He went to work and I sent him a text asking if he wanted a pizza. He said yes and didn’t care what kind. Just get something with meat. I said pepperoni or sausage…he said yes, so I took that as both.

I did my usual Google searches for nearby pizza places. I don’t typically put much weight in reviews but I take a good look at the pictures posted. I think I have a pretty good eye for what a good pizza looks like and I just trust that instinct.

I picked Manhattan NY Pizza in Fort Lauderdale. The small pizza joint is in the Harbor Shops near the intersection of SE 17th Street (also known as Florida State Road A1A) and Cordova Road. The restaurant is tucked in between nail salon and a therapeutics place near a Publix.

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Versailles Cuban Bakery

January 4, 2022
  • 3501 SW 8th Street
  • Miami, FL 33135
  • (305) 441-2500
  • Website
  • Menu

Day two in Miami was a little bit slower paced. We were able to work from our hotel most of the morning before venturing out to the downtown Miami in the afternoon.

We wrapped up our work a little after 6:30. We had been hanging out on one of the islands connected by the Rickenbacker Causeway just kind of south of downtown. The view was good and it got better as the sun set and the city lights came on.

We started heading back towards the hotel and my colleague asked where we were in relation to Little Havana. I asked if he like Cuban food. He said he liked Cuban sandwiches. Me too…and wouldn’t you know it, there is a really famous Cuban restaurant in Little Havana that we weren’t too far from.

So, our original idea was to sit down for a meal at Versailles Restaurant but that was way too busy. We could tell when we drove by there appeared to be a line but we thought maybe since it was just the two of us, we might be able to get a table. We parked in the large parking lot across the street and checked in a the host stand. No dice. It was over an hour wait and we still had work to do.

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Guacamole Station

January 4, 2022
  • 118 N. Federal Highway
  • Dania Beach, FL 33004
  • (954) 544-2259
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

Our first day in Miami was a pretty long day. I got up around 2:30 AM for a 6:00 AM flight out of Grand Rapids. We got to Miami just before noon and by the time we got our car, got to the hotel, ate lunch, and finished the work we still needed to accomplish that day, I was beat.

We both figured we were going to bed early that night to get ready for the next three days of long workdays. As I was laying in bed, I realized I was thirsty. I didn’t have anything in my room to drink and because it’s a Marriott, there are no vending machines on the floors.

I did a quick Google search to find a nearby Publix. I figured I could grab some Pepsi and a couple six packs of local beer. That should be enough to keep me hydrated for four days.

The Publix I found wasn’t too far from my hotel. On the way there, I passed a little taco stand. It was getting a little late but I figured if the open sign was still lit when I passed by again, I’d stop for a couple of tacos.

Guacamole Station is on Federal Highway in Dania Beach between 1st and 2nd Streets just south of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport. The small building was previously an ice cream shop and they have the same walk up window service you expect at places like that.

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TooJay’s Deli, Bakery, Restaurant (Dania Beach)

January 3, 2022
  • 131 South Compass Way, Space #C120
  • Dania Beach, FL 33004
  • (786) 654-4100
  • Website
  • Menu

Miami in December? Sure, why not?

The opportunity to travel for work came up with a New Year’s trip to Miami. I don’t really love Miami. The traffic there is killer and traveling to the area for New Year’s didn’t sound all that fun, but I do look forward to these work trips so I took.

We had a pretty early start on Tuesday morning flying out of Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. We didn’t take the direct to Miami because it was double the price of a little bit longer trip connecting in Chicago.

We got to Miami a little earlier than expected then made the looooooooong trek through the airport to baggage and the loooooooon trek to the shuttle that would take us to the rental car center.

I picked the wrong rental car company. The line was obnoxious when we got there. It took an hour to get our car and we had a 30+ minute drive to our hotel in Ft. Lauderdale. Neither I or my colleague had eaten much since a couple of snacks at the airport back in GR.

We had to hit the ground running and get some work done once we got checked-in. We were both pretty hungry so I asked him if we should slow down and go grab a sandwich. He was on board with that so I started looking for quick sandwich places near our hotel.

I found TooJay’s Deli, Bakery, and Restuarant in Dania Beach at the Dania Point shopping plaza. The small Florida chain has an end space off South Compass Way and Stirling Road.

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Russo’s Pizzeria (Dorr)

January 3, 2022
  • 1730 142nd Avenue
  • Dorr, MI 49323
  • (616) 681-9724
  • Website
  • Menu

I had a pretty easy holiday break. I was scheduled to take vacation time the week between Christmas and New Year’s but an opportunity for a trip to Miami came up during the week so I asked to move my vacation time to the week before Christmas.

There was a problem with giving me Thursday off because of staffing issues. That was fine. I took Monday-Wednesday off, worked Thursday, Friday through Monday off then flew out to Miami on Tuesday.

That one day I ended up working I had to work in Grand Rapids.

I texted J and asked if we wanted to make Thursday pizza night instead of Friday. Friday was Christmas Eve so we assumed most places wouldn’t be open. I got sent home a little early due to the drive so I offered to pick up a couple of pizzas on my way home.

I picked Russo’s Pizzeria in Dorr. I stopped at the Hopkins location a while back and really liked the pizza I got. I realized on that trip to Hopkins that there was a location in Dorr which is much more convenient on a drive between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

Russo’s Pizzeria Dorr location is on 142nd Street just after you come in to where the unincorporated community of Dorr sorta begins from the east. The restaurant shares a building with the Short Stop Party Store near the intersection of 142nd and Joan Drive.

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West Side Deli

December 26, 2021
  • 405 Seward Avenue NW
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49504
  • (616) 401-6301
  • Website
  • Menu

I somehow worked out a pretty sweet deal around Christmas this year.  The week before, I only had to work Thursday.  I was supposed to have the week between Christmas and New Year’s off but a last second trip to South Florida came up and I jumped at the chance to travel so I moved my vacation.  

I had to work the Thursday before Christmas because we were pretty short staffed.  My hope was I could work the Monday and have Tuesday through Monday off, but that wasn’t going to work out with staffing levels.  

I ended up in Grand Rapids.  The colleague I typically work with in Kalamazoo was filling in on an evening shift for someone in Grand Rapids so it was just easier for me to work my day shift up there.  

I didn’t do a whole lot.  There was a lot of sitting around waiting for an assignment, which was fine with me…I had already kind of checked out for the holidays anyway.  

Lunch time rolled around and I still hadn’t done much.  I decided I better eat while I could knowing how things usually go for me.  

There are a lot of places that have opened in Grand Rapids since I last worked out of that office full time a little over four years ago.  I wanted something quick and easy though so I started looking for sandwich shops.  

I came across West Side Deli and thought, damn…that looks good.  

West Side Deli is inside the Bridge Street Market on the corner of Bridge and Seward Streets on the northwest side of Grand Rapids.  Bridge Street market is the neighborhood grocery store concept from Meijer.  It opened in 2018….after I left GR so this was the first time I was in that store as well  

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Taqueria San Francisco Bar & Grill (Plainwell)

December 24, 2021
  • 618 W. Allegan Street
  • Plainwell, MI 49080
  • (269) 204-6091
  • Website
  • Menu

We almost waited too long to get a Christmas tree this year.

Yeah, I had seen all the news stories about shortages but we were busy most weekends and I still prefer going to a farm over one of the lots set up around town.

We’ve been hoping around Christmas tree farms the last couple of years. We went to Tunier’s in Scotts one year. We went to Wahmoff in Gobles one year. Last year we went to Badger Country outside of Otsego. We enjoyed the experience last year so we decided to go to Badger Country again.

We always eat breakfast/lunch before we get a Christmas tree. When we went to Tunier’s, we went to Scotts Corner Cafe. When we went to Wahomff, we went to Robin’s Nest. This year, we went for Mexican food.

We chose Taqueria San Francisco Bar and Grill in Plainwell as our pre-Christmas tree hunt lunch spot.

Taqueria San Francisco is a Battle Creek based restaurant with three stores (and maybe more on the way? There’s been a sign for one on Portage Street for quite a while but no restaurant.) We ate at the Capital Avenue location in Battle Creek back in 2014.

The Plainwell location of Taqueria San Francisco is on West Allegan Street (M-89) right off the US-131 interchange across from Borgess Pipp Hospital. The building has been a couple of chain restaurants. It was originally a Big Boy then an Aubree’s Pizzeria and Grill. It became Taqueria San Francisco in early summer of 2021.

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Portillo’s Hot Dogs (Fort Wayne)

December 17, 2021
  • 295 W. Coliseum Boulevard
  • Fort Wayne, IN 46805
  • (260) 704-9770
  • Website
  • Menu

Did you know there was a Portillo’s in Fort Wayne? Yeah. Me neither.

When we’re in Chicago, we can argue all we want about who has the best Italian beef. Portillos. Al’s Beef. Mr. Beef. Johnnie’s Beef. Buona. Joe Boston. Whatever.

When we’re outside of Chicago, there really is only one place to get an authentic Chicago Italian beef. That’s Portillo’s.

A co-worker and I were coming home from a job assignment in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago. It was a late assignment so we stayed the night. Unfortunately, there was something going on in Indianapolis and hotel capacity was pretty dang close if not 100% full. The closest we could find that wasn’t too far out of way was in Muncie near Ball State.

We got up around 9:30 Sunday morning to head back towards Michigan. Co-worker asked if I wanted to stop for breakfast. I said we could hit a coffee shop or something but I’d rather try to make it back to Fort Wayne and get lunch.

Portillo’s Hot Dogs in Fort Wayne is in the Glenbrook Square shopping near the corner of Coliseum Boulevard and Lima Road on the north side of Fort Wayne. It’s a stand alone building outside of the mall surrounded by other large national chain restaurants.

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