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Factory Coffee (Downtown)

February 3, 2023
  • 205 W. Lovell Street
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • (269) 567-1000
  • Website
  • Menu

It’s cold out, ya’ll. Like, really cold.

I came in to work earlier this week hungry and cold. I really contemplated stopping at Sweetwaters for a donut but I wasn’t in a donut mood. A bagel and a hot chocolate really sounded much better.

I work downtown near the courthouse and once I parked and started walking towards the building, the wanting of a hot chocolate really kicked in. I can see a coffee shop just down the street so I took a hard left to get what I was craving.

Factory Coffee’s downtown location is on the corner of Lovell and Rose Street in the fairly new 400 Rose apartment building. This is Factory’s second stand alone location in town. The original is in the Northside Neighborhood on Fulford Street. The downtown location opened up last summer and takes up the bottom floor of a mixed use development in the Vine Neighborhood.

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Bullseye Marketplace

February 1, 2023
  • 350 Johnny Cake Lane
  • Three Rivers, MI 49093
  • (269) 858-3225
  • Website
  • Menu Changes Daily

Monday was one of them days.  My appointment cancelled on me then I ended up driving all over Southwest Michigan to pick up a few little tasks that were unassigned.  

My day started in Kalamazoo.  I had a 1 PM appointment but the person was sick so we had to reschedule.  Once that happened, I was free to make a few runs.  

I had to drive down to Three Rivers, then to Saugatuck, then back to Kalamazoo.  It was a long day of driving but I got some stuff done that needed to be done and someone else didn’t have to squeeze it in to their busy schedule.  

The question became “Where do I get lunch from?”  Do I grab something in Three Rivers or wait until I get to Saugatuck?

I chose Three Rivers.  

I really only spent about five minutes at the job location.  Just had to do something real quick then move on to the next task.  I was actually outside of Three Rivers in Fabius Township but I wasn’t too far from US-131.

I headed back towards town and went straight for Bullseye Marketplace.  I have driven by this place so many times and I have heard so many things about it from family who have a house on nearby Pleasant Lake but I’ve never actually been there for lunch.  

Bullseye Marketplace is right off US-131 near Three Rivers in a weird little strip of land that is somehow actually in Fabius Township.  You can see it from the road but the address is actually Johnny Cake Lane.  You can access the store from either the northbound US-131 lanes or around the corner from Millard Road.  

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Mezzo Coffee House

January 31, 2023
  • 100 W. Allegan Street
  • Otsego, MI 49078
  • (269) 694-1545
  • Website
  • Menu

I’m not much of a coffee guy. I get my morning caffeine by drinking way more Pepsi than anyone should. There are no “Pepsi Houses” like there are coffee houses though…so that’s kind of disappointing.

I do like coffee houses for the quick grab and go type meals many of them have. And when it’s cold, a hot chocolate is always a delicious option.

A colleague and I were in Otsego late last week for a job assignment. We got done right around 11:00 and were set to head back to Kalamazoo. I had been outside for about twenty minutes and everything was cold. I asked if it’d be alright if I stopped at a nearby coffee house to grab a bite real quick and a hot chocolate to warm me up.

Mezzo Coffee House is in downtown Allegan right on the corner of Allegan Street (M-89) and Farmer Street. The building has been on this corner for over a hundred years and has seen many business comes and go. Before it was a coffee house, it was a natural health store. It has been Mezzo for almost a decade now.

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Dino’s Restaurant and Pancake House

January 30, 2023
  • 2080 Niles Road #400
  • St. Joseph, MI 49085
  • (269) 982-0229
  • Website
  • Menu

Our firstborn turned 11 this month. Her birthday fell on a Sunday so we were able to do whatever she wanted to do for her birthday.

Guess what she picked.

Go ahead…guess…you’ll never get it.

Yeah…she wanted to go skating.

She started doing Learn to Skate through Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association in January of 2019. We kind of took our time working through the levels then the pandemic hit in March of 2020. There was one class left but that ended up getting cancelled and they didn’t pass the kids out of the level they were in.

We started back with Learn to Skate in the winter of 2020. Masks were still mandatory indoors and a lot of rinks weren’t opening up for open skate…including Wings West.

The kid was determined to pass Learn to Skate Level 4 but she needed to practice. We went to a couple of outdoor rinks and even Griff’s Icehouse West in Holland once but it was a rink in St. Joseph we spent most of our weekends practicing at.

The John and Dede Howard Ice Arena was open most weekends for open skate. They are run by the park district so they had a reservation system the could easily put in place and it’s partially outdoors so it was a place you felt safe at. Several times, we were the only ones there.

We asked L what she wanted to do on her birthday. She said skating. She can’t do the afternoon open skate at Wings West because there’s also Club Ice at the same time so they make her go there. She wanted to screw around a little bit and asked if we could go to St. Joseph. We haven’t done that since those days during the pandemic and it was always a place I liked skating too.

Before skating, food. The kids love breakfast so we headed to St. Joseph early with the hopes of getting breakfast in before ice skating. We were going to have to rush back to Kalamazoo for B’s Learn to Skate class and L still had Synchro practice so late breakfast might have been the only meal we were going to get until late that evening.

I don’t know much about the breakfast scene in St. Joseph so I Google searched places near the rink. I found a one that looked simple and had great reviews…so that’s where we went.

Dino’s Restaurant and Pancake House is on Niles Road just south of Hilltop Road in St. Joseph Township just south of the St. Joseph City Limits. The restaurant is in a small shopping center anchored by a Walgreens to the north. The parking lot was pretty full but we didn’t see anyone waiting inside. We found a parking spot then headed inside.

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El Taco Loco Mexican Taqueria (Sturgis)

January 30, 2023
  • 105 S. Maple Steet
  • Sturgis, MI 49091
  • (269) 689-8136
  • Website
  • Menu

One of the weird things I miss about the pandemic is driving to job assignments by myself. I would usually take advantage of being alone and stop to grab food at out of the ordinary restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, etc. I still usually stop for a Pepsi when I have a colleague with me but I don’t always feel like justifying why I want this crappy pizza or just ok chicken for lunch.

I had to make a trip to Sturgis by myself a couple of weeks ago. I love going to Sturgis because there are so many delicious taco places in Sturgis. I probably would have stopped even if I had someone with me, but being able to go in, ask for 5 tacos without looking at a menu, and getting back on the road is the way I like to do lunch.

As I said, there are so many taco places in Sturgis to choose from. I was kind of scrolling through Google looking for one with counter service. A restaurant popped up that I had never seen before even though it looked like was just off of US-12 near downtown. I couldn’t tell if it was counter service or not from the pictures but I decided to press my luck anyway.

El Taco Loco Mexican Taqueria is on South Maple just south of East Chicago Road/US-12 in downtown Sturgis. The building was not a restaurant in it’s former life. It was very clearly a law office. The name of the office, Robertson Law Office is still on the front of the building.

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Portillo’s (Skokie, IL)

January 28, 2023
  • 9400 Skokie Boulevard
  • Skokie, IL 60077
  • (847) 933-0700
  • Website
  • Menu

Two Italian beefs in one week?! I don’t think my week could get any better.

I was back in the Chicago area a couple of weeks ago for a synchronized skating competition. This came just one week after a work trip to Green Bay. On that trip, we took a detour to grab an Italian beef from an Al’s Beef downtown. This trip, we could have done a different Al’s, but Portillo’s always seems like a safer bet for the rest of my family.

We were up bright and early on a Saturday morning to get L on a bus for the team’s trip to Evanston, IL for Synchro Illinois. Everyone was awake by the time J got back from dropping her off so we just decided to get in the car and take our time driving to Illinois. The bus got about a 30-40 minutes head start on us but we pulled up to the Robert Crown Center as the girls were heading in to the venue.

Ice skating is weird to me and kind of a little frustrating. Don’t get me wrong. I love watching my daughter skate. I love watching how happy it makes her to skate. I don’t love that we spend an entire Saturday on the road and drop hundreds of dollars for her to skate for 2 minutes. It’d be like traveling to Chicago for a baseball game only to play one inning. I will do it every single time we need to for her (and eventually my son who’s just as enamored with the sport as she is) though because of how happy it makes her.

My parents live about an hour south of Chicago. They don’t get to see the kids skate very much. They figured since this one was in Illinois, they were going to get over their fear of Chicago driving and come watch her skate.

L skated around 12:30 and when she was done, her team had Portillo’s lunches waiting for them. There were still two other teams from our club that had to skate that day so they were going to be sticking around the rink for a while.

I took my parents up to the area where the team was eating so they could talk to L before getting on the road to go home. We hung out for another half hour or so then I asked if they wanted to grab lunch first. J wasn’t going to leave the arena because she had volunteered to go on a little side trip to the mall as a chaperone for the team so they weren’t just hanging around the rink.

The parking at the Robert Crown Community Center sucks. There’s not nearly enough parking and we had to park on the street. Luckily, we got there early enough that we found street parking right next to the center. My parents offered to just take their car and they would drop us off after lunch so we didn’t lose our parking spot.

The team eating Portillo’s made me hungry. It was about 15 minutes away but I asked my parents if that would work for them.

I chose the Portillo’s on Skokie Road near Emerson Street in the Village of Skokie in Chicago’s northern suburbs. The restaurant is part of a highly commercialized stretch of US-41 running through the village. There’s really not any good signage on the building so I was going by my GPS. The business all run right up the road in this area so there was a large parking lot serving a couple of different buildings behind the restaurant.

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Social Misfits

January 28, 2023
  • 43 Fulton Street W
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • (616) 272-4984
  • Website
  • Menu

My kids love breakfast. It’s really the only meal they will really eat without complaining so if we can do breakfast for dinner, we know it’s going to be a stress free meal.

One of the few things L asked for for Christmas was tickets to see Six: The Musical. She has been obsessed with the music since last summer and we noticed the tour was going to make a stop at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids right around her birthday. J and I wanted to see it to so we snagged a couple of tickets for the Wednesday night performance.

I took the day off work because there is no way I could work a shift then get to Grand Rapids for a 7:30 performance.

Not long before she got home, J asked if we should find a place to eat before the show. I, of course, obliged and started looking for places downtown.

Jokingly, J asked if there were any other waffle places in downtown Grand Rapids. We had just eaten at Tupelo Honey a few weeks prior when we went ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle. The kids loved it because they got waffles. We *could* have just went there again but we’re people who like going to new places.

So yes, she was joking but there is, in fact, another waffle place in downtown Grand Rapids.

Social Misfits is on the corner of Fulton Street and Louis Street NW in downtown Grand Rapids. For years, this odd shaped triangle piece of land was a parking lot but a few years ago, a Residence Inn by Marriot was built. One side of the bottom floor has the state’s last remaining Wahlburgers while the other side has this unique waffle house.

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Al’s Beef (River North)

January 24, 2023
  • 548 N. Wells Street
  • Chicago, IL 60654
  • (312) 943-3222
  • Website
  • Menu

Our trip to Green Bay ended late Sunday night…or more accurately, early Monday morning. The company put us up in a hotel Sunday night and gave us Monday as a travel day.

We left our hotel in Appleton around 9:00. I pretty much woke up at 8:45, packed, checked out, and drug myself to the car. I was tired but I wanted to get home.

On our way to Green Bay on Saturday, we stopped at a Kwik Trip in Pleasant Prairie. When we got back on I-94, we saw a billboard for the “World’s Largest Kwik Trip” just a few miles down the road. We didn’t stop, but made plans to stop on the way home to see if it was worth the hype.

We pulled in to that Kwik Trip around 11:00. Before we got out, I asked my co-worker if he wanted to stop back in Chicago for an Italian beef or just grab lunch here. He said beef. I was happy.

We got drinks and a snack to keep us satisfied until we got back in to Chicago. Neither of us had breakfast so a quick breakfast sandwich and a Pepsi did the trick.

We got in to downtown Chicago around 12:30. There was a little bit of traffic on the Kennedy but it wasn’t awful. I thought I was putting in an address for an Al’s Beef right off the highway but I ended up putting in the address for one downtown. It took us a little longer than expected but it was worth the wait once we finally pulled.

The Al’s Beef I accidently chose is the one on the corner of North Wells and West Ohio Street in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago. The restaurant is in a fairly new building with floor to ceiling windows on two sides. We found a parking spot on the Ohio Street side pretty easily then headed in for the beef we had been craving all weekend.

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Sal’s Pizza

January 21, 2023
  • 411 W. College Avenue
  • Appleton, WI 54911
  • (920) 955-4444
  • Website
  • Menu

I did not regret my choice of hotels on our recent trip to Green Bay.  It was a busy weekend in northern Wisconsin and I was booking late.  My choices were either pay $400/night for a Motel 6 or stay outside of the city.  

I ended up finding a decently priced Hilton in Appleton.  Yeah, it was 35 minutes away but it was a pretty nice hotel at a good price and had a lot of great dining options within walking distance.  

I woke up on Sunday morning pretty late.  We didn’t have to leave the hotel to get to our jobsite until 12:30.  I took advantage of that and slept way in.  It was pretty close to 11:00 when I finally rolled out of bed.  

I knew it was going to be a pretty long day and didn’t know what my dinner situation was going to be like so I decided I should probably grab some lunch.  

There are plenty of options in downtown Appleton.  There was even a pretty nice looking sports bar in the hotel but you should know me and pizza by now.  

Sal’s Pizza in downtown Appleton is my favorite kind of pizza place.  The small restaurant is on College Avenue to the west of Superior Street.  The restaurant is one of several older buildings that come near the edge of the road.  Parking is along the street or in one of the various lots/ramps around downtown.  I walked from my hotel so that wasn’t an issue.  

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Appleton Beer Factory

January 18, 2023
  • 603 W. College Avenue
  • Appleton, WI 54914
  • (920) 364-9931
  • Website
  • Menu

My favorite part of work trips is getting out for meals in a city I otherwise likely wouldn’t visit.

A colleague and I were in northern Wisconsin last week for a job assignment in Green Bay. By the time we started looking to book hotels, there wasn’t much in Green Bay proper. I’d rather drive a little further and stay in a Hilton or Marriott than be close in some dive. I switched my focus to Appleton which is about a half hour away. I found a great Hilton in downtown Appleton and the price was right so I booked two nights.

We got to Green Bay late afternoon on Saturday. We checked in to our hotel in Appleton then had to run in to Green Bay for a quick assignment before our big job on Sunday. We did what we needed to do then headed back to the hotel.

Co-Worker had some things to do when we got back but we wanted to go to dinner before calling it a night. He finished up his work then we met in the lobby of the hotel with plans to walk somewhere for dinner.

Downtown Appleton has quite a few options but there’s a brewery not far from the hotel. He’s not a big craft beer guy but the food looked good so he was on board.

Appleton Beer Factory is on College Avenue near South State Street in downtown Appleton. The restaurant/brewery takes up a pretty large building just to the east of WI-47 in a pretty active downtown restaurant/pub scene. We walked from our hotel so parking wasn’t an issue for us but it looks like most of the parking options downtown are street parking

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