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Sand Lake Party Store

May 6, 2019
  • 25595 M-86
  • Sturgis, MI 49075
  • (269) 467-7661
  • Website
  • Menu

Well….I was going to mow the lawn.  I was going to clean out the garage.  I was going to….but it was such a nice day.  J mom texted her and invited us out to their house in St. Joseph County.  The boat is in and they wanted to take the kids for a ride.  Yard work can wait.

J ordered lunch for herself and kids from Panera right before her mom texted her so we had to wait for that.  I’m not a big Panera fan and just figured I’d eat leftovers from the BC Pizza we had in the fridge.  I guess I still could of done that but the short time we had until the food was delivered, we needed to get stuff ready to go to the Lake House for the day.

I was thinking I would just drop everyone off at the house then drive into Sturgis to find something to eat.  Sturgis isn’t far but, honestly, I was kinda wanting to just get in the boat and cruise around the lake too so I decided to stop on our way and pick something up real quick.

Sand Lake Party Store is a heckuva find in rural St. Joseph County.  It’s on M-86 in the small unincorporated community of Nottawa near the M-86 and Nottawa Road intersection.  It looks like the typical small town gas station but they have so much more inside.

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Traveler’s Cafe & Pub

May 6, 2019
  • 5225 Portage Road
  • Portage, MI 49002
  • (269) 775-1775
  • Website
  • Menu

J’s new job actually gives her a lunch break.  I know that sounds weird to most people but J and I have worked since college in a profession that just expects you to take five minutes here, ten minutes there, eat a sandwich at your desk while something is downloading and call that a lunch break.  I actually had a boss tell me one time to add up all the downtown I had during the day and it would probably come out to more than the hour I am supposed to get….we just didn’t have time to take that whole hour at once.

When you’ve lived like that for close to twenty years, getting used to a lunch break can be hard.  She texts me quite a bit asking if I have down time and could meet her for a meal without the kids.  Most of the time, that’s not possible.

I did finally get an opportunity one day last week.  I had a couple of hours in between assignments and amazingly, that break happened over a typical lunch break.  J asked if I could meet her in Portage near her office.  There’s a new restaurant she’s been itching to try.

Traveler’s Cafe & Pub opened a few months ago on Portage Road right in front of the airport.  The building had been Theo & Stacy’s for close to 30 years until a couple of guys from the OnStaff Group next door made them an offer.

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Comstock Dollar & Discount

May 3, 2019
  • 5922 King Highway
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49048
  • (269) 459-6550
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

I can be lured in with a sign.  If I’m driving by a place and I see a sign for hot food at a place there shouldn’t be hot food, I’m typically going to do a U-Turn to get back to that place.

When we lived in Lansing, I found the best taco shop inside a hardware store and I keep hoping to recreate that magic.

I was driving back into downtown Kalamazoo from Augusta the other day and decided to take M-96 back.  I needed to stop at Speedway on the corner of King Highway and River Street.  As I was doing that, a flashing sign across the street caught my eye.

The sign was attached to a small yellow building and was advertising food.  I was just going to grab a burger from Speedway but I decided to get adventerous.

That building is Comstock Dollar and Discount.  It’s on the east side of River Street right at the King Highway intersection.  There is a row of business alongside it with a small parking lot out front.  Read more…

Red Rock Downtown Barbecue

May 2, 2019
  • 207 W. Michigan Avenue
  • Ypsilanti, MI 48197
  • (734) 340-2381
  • Website
  • Menu

We decided  to take our time coming hom from Detroit after an amazing night at Little Caesars Arena to see P!nk.  It was L’s first concert and we decided to make a special weekend getaway for without her little brother.

When the show was over, we headed back to our hotel in Romulus. I didn’t see the point in staying downtown as I’d have to have paid for parking twice.  I got a really good deal on a hotel by the airport.

We all slept in Sunday morning.  The black out curtains were really good.  It was a little after 9:30 by the time we all rolled out of bed.  Our check-out wasn’t until noon and we had grabbed our swim gear.  I asked L if she wanted to go swimming before we left…..and that was a stupid question.  Of course she did!

We swam for about an hour, took showers, then started the drive home.

It was lunch time and J asked if I had any ideas close by.  I couldn’t find much near the airport so I started looking in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

I came up with Red Rock Downtown Barbecue in Downtown Ypsilanti.  The restaurant is in a 150-year-old building on a very busy Michigan Avenue near Washington Street.  The restaurant had been a bar before the current owners took over in 2010 but they striped the interior down to the bare brick walls.

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District Market Detroit

April 29, 2019
  • 2645 Woodward Avenue
  • Detroit, MI 48201
  • (313) 471-3200
  • Website
  • Menu

Little Caesars Arena was announced to much fanfare in December of 2012.  The arena would become part of a 50  block neighborhood revitalization that would include shopping, dining, hotels, and new residential.

That all sounds pretty amazing on paper but a lot of it hasn’t happened yet.  Things take time.

We were making our first trip to Little Caesars Arena for a concert this past weekend.  We booked a hotel in Romulus for the night so we took our time getting down to The District Detroit for the show.

I had done a little research looking for someplace to eat in the area.  There weren’t a lot of choice.  We first tried Harry’s Bar which is about the only place not connected to the arena to eat.  It looked promising until J opened the door and people came spilling out of the packed pub.

We knew it was probably a long shot but we walked around to the Woodward side of the arena to find the built in restaurants.  They both had lines waiting to get in so we just got in line to get in the arena.

Once inside, J and L got in line for a t-shirt.  I went exploring to see if the lines had calmed down some from the inside and if it was possible we could get a table somewhere.  I walked in to a place called The District Market Detroit and found short lines and what looked like not your average arena food.  I texted J and she got out of line with L (it was taking too long and I would just wait in line by myself later to get her a t-shirt).

The District Market Detroit is one of Little Caesars Arenas non-arena food dining options.  It’s run by Delaware North which runs similar places in airports and arenas around the world.  The space is on the Woodward side facing the street.  It’s open on non-event days as well as a place for people living and working in the neighborhood to eat.  From the inside of LCA, it literally looks like you’re walking into a shop in the mall and it’s even kind of set up like a mall food court. Read more…

Little Caesars Arena

April 29, 2019
  • 2645 Woodward Avenue
  • Detroit, MI 48201
  • (313) 471-3200
  • Website

Everyone remembers their first concert.  Mine was the B-96 Summer Bash at the Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, IL.  Ricky Martin, Tyrese, Keith Sweat, Busta Rhymes, 98 Degrees Venga Boys and a very hot at the time N’SYNC.  I was 19 at the time and not in to any of that music but my brother had an extra ticket so I went.  I like to tell people my first concert was actually a couple of months later when I saw Metallica, Sevendust and a very up and coming Kid Rock at the Allstate Arena.

The thing with my story though…I was 19 and on my own.  I was taking myself to these concerts.  My parents weren’t really into seeing shows like that when my brother and I were little.  We did a ton of baseball games instead.  I’m not complaining at all.  I loved every minute of those baseball games….but I do wish I had gotten to see New Kids on the Block during the No More Games Tour at the Rosemont Horizon in 1990.

We decided last fall we were going to let L pick a concert to go see her first concert.  Like me, she will have a first concert she’s kind of embarrassed by and will tell people this story instead.  You see, we took her to her first actual concert when she was two.  We saw The Wiggles at the Fox Theatre.  She might be embarrassed but I thought it was a great show.

She first picked Taylor Swift but Swift was in Detroit three nights later on a Tuesday so that couldn’t happen.  After a few more tries, I found P!nk would be in Detroit in the spring and when I said that out loud, her eyes lit up and she asked if we could go see P!nk.

This past weekend was P!nk’s stop in Detroit on the Beautiful Trauma World Tour.  She did two nights at Little Caesars Arena after having to cancel a show there last spring due to illness.  Instead of doing just one on a Sunday night, she did two shows on Friday and Saturday.

We picked the Saturday show because it was easier for us to get to without taking time off work.  We made a weekend of it with just L.  We dropped B off with Nana and Grandpa for his own special night with them then the three of us headed to Romulus where we got a hotel for the night.

We headed in to Detroit at about 6:00 for the 8:00 show.  I had done my research ahead of time and already paid for parking at the 2127 Cass Avenue lot.  We got there just before 6:30, scanned our ticket then walked a couple of blocks back towards LCA.

Little Caesars Arena is a massive arena built in downtown Detroit on Woodward Avenue and Henry Street a coupe of years ago to replace the aging Joe Louis Arena.  There’s a whole lot of history that I’m not going to get into about what LCA was supposed to do for the area.  You can find that from Crain’s Detroit or HBO Real Sports if you’re interested.

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Arlene’s Truck Stop

April 26, 2019
  • 4647 W. Columbia Avenue
  • Battle Creek, MI 49015
  • (269) 964-8908
  • Website
  • Menu

I’ve always been a big fan of truck stop diners.  Not the big chain ones like you see at the TA’s or Pilot’s but the little mom and pop ones that existed before those mega truck stops started taking over.

My mom works at one of those mom and pop diners back near where I grew up in Illinois.  She just took the job after working in customer service for thirty years and moonlighting as a waitress on weekends.  I’ve honestly never seen her happier at work.

There aren’t many of those trucks stops around here.  I can only think of a handful of them.  The closest to Kalamazoo has to be Arlene’s Truck Stop just on the edge of Southwest Battle Creek.

Arlene’s Truck Stop is on Columbia Avenue right off I-94 at Exit 92.  It’s not a big fancy truck stop by any means.  The building is a little worn.  The paint is peeling off the awning.  The word “restaurant” is starting to fade from the side of the building.

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