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The Knickerbocker Brewpub & Distillery

September 25, 2016
  • 417 Bridge Street NW
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49504
  • (616) 345-5642
  • Website
  • Menu

I always get excited for new brewpubs opening.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Kalamazoo or Grand Rapids or anywhere else in West Michigan.  Any place that serves delicious beer and just as delicious food is always going to be a high priority for J and I.

This past weekend, J wanted to go to the Tanger Outlets in Byron Township.  The only other time we’ve tried going to the outlets L had a massive meltdown in the Gap and we had to make a run for the car to get her out of there.  We decided to try again by telling her there is a playground that she could play at while Momma went shopping.

Anytime we go to Grand Rapids as a family, we try to knock off one of the many, many places we want to eat at.  It just so happens, one of those high priority ones popped up for us.  It actually made the decision to take the road trip to the outlets that much easier.

The Knickerbocker Brewpub & Distillery doesn’t have it in it’s name, but it’s part of a very successful West Michigan beer company.  The brewpub is New Holland Brewing’s second location.  They’ve opened a massive brewpub, new offices, retail space, and production floor with a three vessel 10 BBL with six fermenters.  It also has two distillers for their artisan spirits.  The building is  just west of downtown Grand Rapids in what is known as the “West Side.”  The building is an original build that looks sort of out of place in this location right now.  The word massive barely does it justice.  It was just under a year ago that they broke ground on this spot just a couple years after speculation that they would be opening a brewpub in the Downtown Market.  The brewpub, pays homage to it’s home in Holland by naming the brewpub after the Knickerbocker Theater at Hope College. Read more…

Marie’s Snack Shop

September 25, 2016
  • 459 E. Laketon Avenue
  • Muskegon, MI 49442
  • (231) 578-7645
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

I’m not gonna lie.  I love taking co-workers to new places and watching their faces as we pull up.  The places that make them say, “We’re eating here?” are the best.  I work in a business where 90% of our meals are eaten at fast food places and/or in the car while driving to the next location.  Technically, we get an hour lunch break, but in 15 years, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually been able to walk away from work for an hour and enjoy a lunch.

I’ve spent a little extra time in Muskegon this week with two different co-workers.  The first night, our dinner was a bottle of Pepsi and the delicious popcorn from Wesco.  The second night, with a different co-worker, we had a little more time and there was a sign that caught my eye.  Co-worker wanted Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken.  I said I had a better idea.

We ended up at Marie’s Snack Shop in Musekgon’s Marsh Field neighborhood.  The tiny shop is on the corner of Laketon and Manz Street.  The building is a walk up type restaurant with no seating or inside public space.  It looks like in a previous life, it was Kacey’s Big Dipper. Read more…

Bowmans BBQ & Meat Market

September 18, 2016
  • 14377 East ON Avenue
  • Climax, MI 49034
  • (269) 746-7675
  • Website
  • Menu

I used to watch a lot of Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives when it first premiered on the Food Network in 2007.  I just loved the ideas of all these hidden gems hiding in plain sight. Some of my favorite where the ones that were part of something else.  They were delicious little restaurants tucked in the back of a hardware store or a grocery store that you would never even thought about if someone hadn’t told you how great they were.

J and I really wanted to take the kids to Binder Park Zoo one last time before they close for the season.  We’ve been talking about it for a few weeks, but the threat of rain has kept us away.  When J got home from work…and L got home from school on Friday, we decided now is as good of a time as ever, so we headed over to Battle Creek to feed the giraffes one more time this year.

We got there pretty late in the day, so as they were starting to close up near 5:00, we were making our way back to the car.  I asked J what she wanted to do for dinner.  I had a pizza option in Battle Creek or a BBQ option in Climax.  No surprise to me, she chose the BBQ option even though it was just a little bit out of the way on our trip back to Kalamazoo.

Now, this is where my Triple D comments come in to play.  We pulled in to the parking lot of Bowmans BBQ & Meat Market just west of the Village of Climax.  J seemed confused.  It’s a grocery store.  It’s an IGA grocery store.  She was willing to give me the benefit of the doubt and we grabbed the kids and headed in. Read more…

Pieology – Grand Rapids

September 18, 2016
  • 2006 East Beltline Avenue NE
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49525
  • (616) 202-4809
  • Website 
  • Menu

It wasn’t that long ago that I had never heard of a fast-fired pizza place.  Blaze Pizza opened about two years ago in Oshtemo Township and all of a sudden, I see competitors popping up all over the place.  Now, I don’t know who was first or who copied who.  That’s not really important to me.  I’m just saying there are a lot of places starting to open up that all do the same thing….very similarly.

Last week I was driving down the East Beltline on the Northeast Side of Grand Rapids near Knapps Corner.  I noticed a pizza place and quickly turned in to see what it was all about.

Pieology is in a new development right on the corner of the East Beltline and Knapp Street.  It sits right in front of the D & W Fresh Market and near the PF Changs that is so popular.  The address is on the Beltline, but the access to the restaurant is from Knapp Street.  You have to go in to the D & W parking lot to get to the small parking lot between the building and the Beltline for this development.

Read more…

Pennfield Pizza

September 13, 2016
  • 1432 Capital Avenue NE
  • Battle Creek, MI 49017
  • (269) 964-9465
  • Website
  • Menu

I don’t usually work Friday nights, but I was offered a couple hours of overtime for some pretty easy work, so I took it.  The kids were going to bed right after I left anyway, so I wasn’t missing out on anything other than a little extra sleep.

I ended my night on the northeast side of Battle Creek.  Actually, in Pennfield Township.  It was still fairly early and I was hungry.  There’s a few food options on that side of town, but you know me, always hoping for something local.

I found a pizza place that was open until midnight and, since it’s Friday night, I decided to grab a pizza and go home and drink a couple of beers.

Pennfield Pizza is on Capital Avenue NE just north of the Bailey Park in Pennfield Township.  It’s a stand alone building on the east side of the road just south of J Bartlett Drive. Read more…

J. Gumbo’s – Kalamazoo

September 13, 2016
  • 3205 S. Westnedge Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49001
  • (269) 254-8122
  • Website
  • Menu

There are a lot of chain restaurants in the Kalamazoo area….but heck, that’s true for almost any decently sized metro area.  Chains are the safest bet when it comes to opening a restaurant.  You already have the name recognition and, in some cases, the following of people who want you to open a store.

The real downside to the chains is pretty obvious.  It’s variety.  You really have the choice between Mexican (sorta….Tex Mex?  American Mexican?), sandwich shops, burger joints, pizza or fried chicken.  Sure, there are a couple of niche places in there, but there really isn’t a lot of variety.

The newest addition to Kalamazoo chain restaurant scene is unlike any other place in town.

J. Gumbo’s serves up what they claim to be authentic Louisiana cooking in a small building on the corner of Westnedge and Cork in the South Westnedge Neighborhood.  The previous tenant was a Big Apple Bagels which closed a few  years ago. Read more…

Cookie’s Five Star Grill

September 12, 2016
  • 712 Douglas Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • (269) 312-8233
  • Website
  • Menu

I hate seeing restaurants close….especially in areas where there’s not a lot of dining out options.  I know the statistic that most restaurants fail within three years, but I always get a little sad when I drive by a place and see that it’s all closed up.

I get much happier when I drive by a place that has been closed for a while and see someone has taken a chance of their own.  That happened recently as I was driving down Douglas Avenue on Kalamazoo’s north side.

Cookie’s Five Star Grill is just north of the corner of Douglas Avenue and North Street.  The building it now occupies has been many things over the years including a Wing Heaven and, most recently, Velt’s Soul Food.  I don’t know when Velt’s closed but I know it’s been a couple of years.  I last ate there in 2011. Read more…