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Constantine Brewing Company

August 23, 2016
  • 145 S. Washington Street
  • Constantine, MI 49042
  • (269) 435-1230
  • Website
  • Menu

Chances are, J and I will never own a lake house…or a boat.  Luckily for us, we have family that do.

My dad’s cousin bought a house on Pleasant Lake near Three Rivers about four years ago.  We’ve made it a little tradition for the whole family to get together for a weekend.  In the past, it’s always been my parents, my brother and his family, and J and I with our kids plus my dad’s cousin and her husband that own the house.  This year, we had all those people plus the cousin’s two kids and their wives.  It was the first time we’ve all been together (with or without all the wives and kids) since my brother and I were in junior high (many moons ago).

We spent all day Saturday at the lake then J and I went back home to Kalamazoo with our kids to sleep.  Everyone else stayed at the lake house.  J and I were going to get up and get back down to Three Rivers for breakfast, but we all over slept so we joined them for lunch and spent another few hours swimming, riding jet ski’s and trying to surf off the back of the boat.

J and I are the only “locals.”  Everyone else is from Illinois, so as late afternoon rolled around, it was time to start packing up so everyone could get back to work on Monday.  My parents were looking to hit US-12 and go all the way across southern Michigan to Michigan City, IN to do some shopping.  My parents, for some reason, can’t use a GPS and don’t take directions very well.  I told them we were going to go to lunch/dinner in Constantine just down the road and just a few miles from where US-131 and US-12 meet in White Pigeon.  They seemed interested so they followed us down the road….well, sort of…because my family can not just ride my bumper when they follow us…they have to be 8 car lengths behind then end up following the wrong car and get lost….but anyway…that’s a different story.

We pulled in to Constantine about 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon.  The small town has a downtown area that’s about two blocks long.  This used to be the route for US-131 until they rerouted it around town.  Now it’s BL-131 and it runs the same route as the old main route through town.

We pulled into a spot on the side of the road and my parents did the same across the street. We were in town for one of the only restaurants open on a Sunday afternoon.  Constantine Brewing Company. Read more…

Menna’s Joint – Grand Rapids

August 18, 2016
  • 44 Ionia Avenue SW
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • (616) 742-3827
  • Website
  • Menu

Quick and tasty.  That’s what I’m looking for when I’m looking for something in Grand Rapids on my dinner break.  Some nights, I have less than five minutes.  Some nights I have an hour and a half.  Some nights, I could think I have an hour and it turns in to five minutes.  Finding multiple places that do quick and delicious so I’m not eating the same thing over and over is getting harder and harder the longer I work in Grand Rapids.

One place I’ve passed up for no good reason and for quite some time is Menna’s Joint on Ionia Avenue downtown.  I’ve always enjoyed the dubs we’ve gotten from Kalamazoo, Lansing and East Lansing so why I keep driving by the Grand Rapids location is still a mystery to me.

The Grand Rapids Menna’s Joint opened in 2013 in the ground floor space of the Weston Apartments.  Prior to Menna’s moving in, the street level space was office space, so Menna’s Joint moving in changed the use of the building and made it fit in with the nightlife that lines this section of Ionia Avenue.

Read more…

Stardust Event Center

August 9, 2016
  • 777 Blue Chip Drive
  • Michigan City, IN 46360
  • (219) 879-7711
  • Website

I’ve always been pretty hit or miss seeing shows at casinos.  I don’t actually like going to casinos so that always leaves an impression on me.  It’s still one of the last archaic bastions for smokers who just can’t wait to poison other people because they think they’re special and deserve the right to pollute the air for everyone around them.

As I was making plans for a Saturday night with no wife or kids, I came across a tweet from Bob Saget advertising a show in Michigan City.  That was on my way home from Chicago to Kalamazoo and I’ve always wanted to see Bob Saget live.

The show was at the Stardust Event Center inside the Blue Chip Casino on the north side of Michigan City, IN.  The casino itself is about twenty years old although it’s undergone a few expansions to the actual riverboat and a couple of towers for the hotel and spa.  The Stardust Event Center is inside the hotel portion of the complex and accessible by entering through the main entrance to the casino and heading to the right all the way down the hotel until you see the sign for the Event Center. Read more…

Kevin’s Smokehouse & Grill

August 8, 2016
  • 1701 E. Michigan Boulevard
  • Michigan City, IN 46360
  • (269) 814-4157
  • Website
  • Menu

Time to myself.  That’s something that I don’t get much anymore.  J wanted to go to Chicago for her grandma’s birthday and take the kids.  I had to work on Sunday so I couldn’t stay with this.  What we ended up doing was I took them to Chicago then  J’s mom brought them all back on Monday.

I had a couple of ideas on what to do with my free time on Saturday night then I saw a tweet from Bob Saget that changed everything.  He was performing at the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City.  That cemented what I was going to do Saturday night.  I would take J and the kids to Chicago then go back to Michigan City to see Bob Saget.

I left Chicago a little early because we passed some pretty intense traffic on our way to the city.  I was afraid I was going to be in a long traffic back up, but by 4:00 when I left, the traffic had cleared up and I ran into nothing.  I got to Michigan City really early, so I decided to look for a place to eat.

Several years ago, I had passed a BBQ place on the way back to the highway from Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets.  I wondered if that was still there, so I headed out to Michigan Boulevard to see if it was.

The place I was looking for is Kevin’s Smokehouse & Grill.  The small restaurant sits on the corner of Michigan Boulevard and Butler Street on the north east side of Michigan City.   Read more…

Taco John’s – Stevensville

August 8, 2016
  • 4107 Red Arrow Highway
  • Stevensville, MI 49127
  • (269) 605-6352
  • Website
  • Menu

There’s a Taco John’s in Michigan!  There’s a Taco John’s in Michigan!  I shouldn’t be that excited about a fast food taco chain, but holy cow am I ever.

I have a weird relationship with the “West-Mex” taco chain based in Wyoming.  My family always went to locations in the Kankakee, IL area when I was little for two reasons.  On Tuesday, they did Taco Tuesday where tacos were half price and they also did taco’s for A’s on report cards.  I didn’t get a lot of them, but enough to get a couple free tacos.

When I moved to Peoria, Taco John’s was there as well.  Heck, the location was right down the street from where I worked in Creve Coeur, IL.  They still had Taco Tuesday so for five years, that was my go-to on Tuesday’s that I didn’t bring my lunch.

A few months ago, I drove to Stevensville to meet a co-worker from Grand Rapids.  We were heading to a Chicago suburb and it was easier to meet than for me to go pick him up or him to come to Kalamazoo first.  As I got off the highway, I damn near hit the breaks.  There was a sign for Taco John’s at the exit.

Fast forward to this past weekend.  I was taking J and the kids to her parents house in the Chicago suburbs.  We wanted to hang around for the Big Latch-On in Bronson Park Saturday morning.  When that was over, we got on the road and started heading west.  J had said something about lunch and I asked if she could wait until Stevensville because I wanted tacos.

Taco John’s is a little ways off the highway…almost a mile… at exit 23.  It’s on the corner of Red Arrow Highway and Glenlord Road.  It shares the building with a BP gas station with the restaurant taking up a space in the south end of the building. Read more…

Salvino’s Ristorante – Plainwell

August 7, 2016
  • 1290 M-89
  • Plainwell, MI 49080
  • (269) 685-4800
  • Website
  • Menu

Trying to find something to eat on my way home is always a pain in the butt.  I leave Grand Rapids most nights a little after 11:00 and, on most days, I don’t get a typical dinner break.  I’m not the healthiest eating or thinnest person in the world, but I do try to avoid fast food.  I know a lot of restaurant food is just as bad for me, but if I’m going to eat bad, it might as well taste good.

I was really hungry as I was leaving Grand Rapids last Thursday (my Friday).  I decided to see if there was a restaurant that would still be open I could order something from.  I’ve been wanting to stop in Wayland at the Salvino’s that took the place of Uccello’s, so I looked them up.

Now, I thought I put in an order using the online ordering system to the Wayland Salvino’s, but when I got there, the take out area was closed.  I decided to check my email to make sure I had it right and sure enough, I screwed up.  I ordered at the Plainwell location.  Not a huge deal because it was still on my way home, but they were closing up the kitchen soon and not knowing how the restaurant was set up, I was worried about getting there by midnight to pick up my order.

Salvino’s Ristorante in Plainwell is one of two locations. It sits on the property that used to be Player’s Grill, but the building has undergone extensive renovations to the point it doesn’t even resemble the business that used to be there.   They’ve cleaned up the facade, added a large patio, and made some major improvements to what I remember as kind of a dark, cramped dining area and bar.   Read more…

Kalamazoo Pizza Company

July 29, 2016
  • 2120 South Sprinkle Road
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49001
  • (269) 978-7600
  • Website
  • Menu

I feel like I just wrote a blog entry on fast-fired pizza places and now, here I am, doing another.  I told you this was a fast growing segment of restaurants.

It also feels like it’s been a really long time since I wrote a Kalamazoo specific blog entry.  Sorry about that.  There hasn’t seemed to have been a lot of new restaurants opening lately.

Not a lot, but there is one that I’ve been somewhat excited about.  The people that own Camzie’s Pizza turned their little food cart in to a brick and mortar take out pizza business.  They still have the mobile oven for events, but a permanent location just opened up in Kalamazoo Township.

Kalamazoo Pizza Company totally redid and moved in to the small building on Sprinkle Road near Sweetwaters Donut Mill that used to be a Chicken Coop.  The building is now a drive up or walk up window only with a new tin exterior with a custom built oven hanging out the front.  There’s no seating or even an indoor area.  The walk up window on the north side of the building is covered, but it’s still “outside”. Typically, I would have used this option as I hate drive throughs, but there was a Pepsi truck unloading for the Sprinkle Mart next door blocking all the parking. Read more…

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