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Hayloft Ice Cream Parlor

July 1, 2022
  • 45502  M-51
  • Decatur, MI 49045
  • (269) 423-8287
  • Website
  • Menu

If we’re gonna take a road trip for lunch we have to include an ice cream stop on the way.

We were bored last weekend and really wanted to get out of the house. I suggested we take a road trip to Niles for lunch. We had a great meal at Iron Shoe Distillery then headed back towards Kalamazoo.

I was really hoping we could stop in Dowagiac at Caruso’s Candy & Soda Shop but they had already closed by the time we made it back through town.

No worries. We saw an ice cream place in Decatur on the way to Niles. We headed back that way.

Hayloft Ice Cream Parlor is on M-51 on the southwest end of Decatur. It’s actually just outside of Decatur on the very western edge of Decatur Township. The business, shaped like an old red barn, has been around for over 20 and at one time had a lighted miniature golf course and a softball field.

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Iron Shoe Distillery

June 28, 2022
  • 3 N. 3rd Street
  • Niles, MI 49120
  • (269) 262-0454
  • Website
  • Menu

We used to take road trips all the time for restaurants. Kids, COVID, and gas prices have kind of put that on hold. We still do it occasionally, but not like we used to.

We had a hard time getting moving on Saturday. I ran down to the Kalamazoo Farmers Market to do something for work and when I got home, J was half asleep.

I hate sitting at home on weekends. Honestly, I’m lazy. I don’t ever get stuff done and I end up sitting around watching sitcom reruns all day. I’m just….tired.

J said she wanted to go somewhere for lunch. We went to Bell’s last week for the first time in a long time and it was nice to just sit outside and enjoy a couple of beers.

I couldn’t really think of anywhere close by that I we haven’t been to in a while that we really wanted to go to. I asked J if she was up for a road trip. I had a place in Niles and a place in Battle Creek. She said screw the high gas prices and chose the place in Niles.

We made the hour drive down to Niles to find Iron Shoe Distillery.

Iron Shoe Distillery is on North 3rd Street on the corner with Broadway Street just to the south of the main downtown district in Niles. The building is quite large with the distilling operations, tap room, and a two story patio taking up the corner lot that was a muffler and brake shop before it was renovated and expanded to make the distillery. The original part of the business opened in 2019 with the expansion of an additional dining room and the two level patio happening thanks to a Match on Main Grant provided by the MEDC.

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Mac N More

June 28, 2022

  • Food Truck
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • (269) 365-5948
  • Website
  • Menu

Lunchtime Live is back, y’all.

I look forward to Friday’s in the summer all year long. Not just because it’s a Friday….in the summer…but also because the food trucks are back at Bronson Park.

A lot of the usual suspects have been at Lunchtime Live the first few weeks but I really like seeing what’s new this year. What new, interesting food creations to serve out of the side of a panel truck have people come up with over the winter?

The first new one for me this year is Mac N More. The large yellow food truck based out of Kalamazoo serves up gourmet mac ‘n cheese.

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Suns Out Buns Out Cafe

June 27, 2022
  • 295 E. Emmett Street
  • Battle Creek, MI 49017
  • (269) 274-4530
  • Website
  • Menu

The food truck debate has been going on for years. I worked in Peoria, IL in the early 2000’s and even then, before the invention of actual food trucks, there was huge controversy. Every Friday in the summer, they’d have food carts on the courthouse square. The brick and mortar downtown business threw a fit every year because it was taking business away from them.

That’s pretty much always been the argument. Food trucks are not the same investment as a building.

Several businesses are proving that food trucks can actually be a way to break in to the business and turn it in to a brick and mortar building. There have been several success stories recently in Southwest Michigan.

The newest place to try their hand at a full time restaurant is Suns Out Buns Out Cafe in Battle Creek. The business started as a successful burger food truck that they’ve now turned in to a full time deal.

Suns Out Buns Out Cafe is on Emmett Street near Union on the Northeast side of Battle Creek. The restaurant takes up the bottom floor of Greensmith Studios and Florist. The space had a been a cafe in the past. For 18 years, the space was Addington Hills Cafe. That cafe closed in 2017.

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Player’s Grill

June 25, 2022
  • 506 E. Michigan Avenue
  • Augusta, MI 49012
  • (269) 731-5420
  • Website
  • Menu

My daughter got the quintessential American summer experience last week. Sleepaway camp.

A friend of hers from school went to Sherman Lake YMCA camp last year and had a blast. Her dad asked us if L would be interested in going this year. We decided it’d probably be good for her and we knew she’d have fun being away from us for a week.

Drop off was Sunday afternoon on Father’s Day. That’s really not a big deal to me. I love that my family thinks they have to do something for me but I really don’t like anyone making a big deal over me.

We dropped L off right when the camp opened at 2:00. She wanted to get there early to get a top bunk. J went in to help her get set up and less than 15 minutes later, L kicked her out of the cabin and told her she’d see us in a week.

J wanted to go out for lunch and since we were near Augusta, I picked restaurant in Augusta. It’s kind of crazy to me just how many fantastic dining options there are in Augusta and I’ve almost made my way through all of them.

I picked Player’s Grill on the east side of Galesburg. The long time bar and grill is on East Michigan Avenue just before you get to the Kalamazoo river as you’re leaving town. The bar is a standalone building with a large parking lot surrounding it and a patio on the east side of the building.

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Carniceria Michoacan

June 23, 2022
  • 1264 E. Chicago Road
  • Sturgis, MI 49091
  • (269) 651-9074
  • Website
  • Menu

My boss likes to send me to Sturgis from time to time because, I’m pretty sure, he likes to live vicariously through me. Hot ‘n Now was one of his favorite fast food joints growing up and the only remaining location is in Sturgis.

I obliged occasionally and pick up burgers but I’ve learned there are so many other delicious options in Sturgis. My in-laws moved to the area a few years ago and I’ve gotten to explore St. Joseph County a little bit more.

There are a lot of Mexican joints in Sturgis. I haven’t been able to try many of the places because we usually just order pizza when we’re at the lake if we order out.

I was in Sturgis last week for the day and I really didn’t plan on getting lunch My co-worker picked up a couple of slices pizza from a gas station when I stopped to find a bathroom and buy more Pepsi.

The longer we sat in Sturgis, the hungrier I got. I finally broke down around 3:00 and told my colleague I was going to get tacos.

I picked Carniceria Michoacan. This is actually a small grocery store on Chicago Road on the east side of town. The small building shares a parking lot with a laundromat near the intersection with Farwell Avenue.

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Eastern Deli

June 17, 2022

Working weekends is the worst. I know, I know. I picked a business that doesn’t take days off, but still…that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna complain about it.

Working a Saturday night can either be really easy or really hectic. I never know what I’m going to get until I get there.

I volunteered to pick up a shift last weekend for a co-worker who needed to take a vacation day. I hadn’t worked a Saturday in a while and I needed a day off during the week so it actually worked out really well.

I got lucky. I got one of the really, really easy Saturday nights. My co-worker and I had completed our task before 5:00 and we were basically just sitting around waiting in case something else popped up.

I had the time so I decided I was going to grab dinner somewhere. I hate trying to order from a restaurant on Saturday night so I started looking for something quick and easy. I just wanted a sandwich so I put that in to a Google search to see what would come up.

I got a hit for the Eastern Deli. I had passed this place many times but had never eaten there before. Now as good as any time to try it, right?

Eastern Deli is on Eastern Avenue just south of the intersection with Burton Street on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. The restaurant has been there for quite a while. Google Street View goes back to 2007 and the business is in those pictures. It’s in kind of a strip mall with several other businesses right next to the post office. There is street parking in the area but there is also a lot next to the Post Office. I don’t know if you’re supposed to park there but it was a Saturday and the lot was empty so I took my chances.

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Fricano’s (Alamo Township)

June 12, 2022

  • 7454 N. 6th Street
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49009
  • (269) 342-0808
  • Website
  • Menu

Wait a second. I thought Fricano’s in Alamo Township closed late last year. I remember seeing Facebook posts and news articles announcing the closing through the end of 2021 but I never saw anything about them reopening in 2022.

L is playing Little League this year at Westwood and there aren’t enough Little Majors softball teams so they’re having to travel a little bit. Last Tuesday, they played at Alamo Little League.

I was coming from work in Grand Rapids so I got off the highway at D Avenue to get to the Little League fields on DE Avenue near 6th Street.

I was a little surprised when I drove by Fricano’s because there were cars in the parking lot and I could see people sitting out on the deck. I had no idea they had reopened so this came as a little bit of a surprise.

I told J they were open when I got the fields and we noticed some advertising for them there as well. We didn’t have dinner plans so as L’s game was wrapping up, she asked if I wanted to order a couple of pizzas.

Fricano’s of Alamo is in a really odd location. It’s on 6th Street north of West DE Avenue. I say it’s an odd location because there’s nothing else out that way. The restaurant is kind of on an island. If you go to Fricano’s to eat, in most cases you’re making a very deliberate decision to go there to eat. It’s not something you’re just going to drive by and be like, we should go there for dinner…unless you’re at the Little League fields like we were.

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Burke’s Waterfront

June 11, 2022

  • 2403 Sunnyside Drive
  • Cadillac, MI 49601
  • (231) 775-7555
  • Website
  • Menu

We really didn’t have to stay in Interlochen Saturday night.

This was supposed to be a big mini vacation but J came down with COVID the day we were supposed to leave. L and I went ahead with the trip to Traverse City for her ice skating competition but we really didn’t do anything outside of that. I suggested ice cream. I suggested hiking. I suggested the beach. She didn’t want to do any of that with me.

We headed back to the cabin in Interlochen after our team meal at The Little Fleet in downtown Traverse City. L asked if we could just go home but I had already paid for this AirBnB and really, I thought J could use one more night by herself to recover without us being home.

We had to be out of the cabin by 10 AM Sunday morning. L wanted to get back to Kalamazoo for open skate at Wings West anyway so I set my alarm for 8:30, cleaned up, got her up and we got on the road.

We both had a slice of leftover pizza from our Friday night pizza stop at Cicero’s Pizza but that was all we had for breakfast. I didn’t do much planning. I figured if we were going to stop, we’d find something along the way.

It wasn’t until we got back to Cadillac until I saw a restaurant…and it looked packed so I kept going hoping I’d run into another one. Sure enough, I did.

I interrupted L who was doing something on her phone in the backseat with her earbuds in. I asked if she was hungry and she said she was just about to say something after seeing a McDonalds. I asked if she wanted to stop for breakfast and I got an enthusiastic yes.

We stopped at Burke’s Waterfront on Sunnyside Drive on the southwest side of the city. The address says Sunnyside Drive but you pass it on M-55 just north of the interchange with US-131 between Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell.

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The Little Fleet

June 11, 2022
  • 448 E. Front Street
  • Traverse City, MI 49686
  • (231) 943-1116
  • Website
  • Menu

We did it.

L and I managed a figure skating competition without J.

Our planned family mini-vacation didn’t happen. J came down with COVID. The rest of us somehow avoided it. The kids had just gotten their booster shots and I was in Mackinac Island all week for work.

Figure skating competitions are hard for dads. There’s hair. There’s makeup. There’s dresses. I managed it all somehow. I got L’s hair in to a pretty tight bun and the two of us did the best we could with the makeup. We had a dress mishap and some blood on the tights when L somehow cut herself with her toe pick but we managed. Overall, it was a really successful day. L walked away with two first place medals and had a lot of fun with her teammates and coaches.

L was the last skater for a while for her coach so the coaches asked the group if we all wanted to go to dinner together. They usually try to make reservations but the suggested restaurant from the parents group wasn’t open for dine-in.

J has a friend in Traverse City and she suggested a food truck park downtown. We figured there would be something that everyone would eat and we wouldn’t have to worry about getting a big enough table.

The Little Fleet is pretty awesome. It’s a food truck park on the corner of Front Street and Wellington on the east side of Traverse City’s downtown. The lot has four food trucks and a permanent building with a bar and a taco stand. The park has been open for almost ten years now taking over what used to be a liquor store parking lot.

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