Wineguys Restaurant Group and our restaurants are frequently featured local and regional publications. Below is a sampling of recent articles.

Lick the Plate: Palette Bistro

Lick the Plate: Episode 64

By on May 7, 2019

This week I’m broadcasting from Palette Bistro in Petoskey with Patrick Faylor, director of operations for Wine Guys Restaurant Group. We’re talking food, restaurants and music.

Wineguys Restaurant Group implements recycling program

Wineguys Restaurant Group implements recycling program

PETOSKEY — Earth Day was celebrated worldwide on Monday, April 22.

The idea for this day at its inception in 1970 was to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

Now, nearly 50 years later, 193 countries participate each year.

In Northern Michigan, Wineguys Restaurant Group — owners of City Park Grill, Palette Bistro and Roast & Toast — have implemented a recycling program in each restaurant.

With mixed container bins, plus three paper, box and bags bins, each restaurant works to decrease their environmental footprint. In 2018 alone, City Park Grill recycled 60,000 gallons, Roast & Toast recycled roughly 50,000 gallons and Palette Bistro recycled 30,000 gallons.

In coordination with Emmet County Recycling, a food scrap collection program was started at City Park Grill and Roast & Toast in 2015.

During the past four years, City Park Grill has diverted 52,363 pounds of food scraps from landfill and Roast & Toast produced 25,904 gallons of compost for the community. Palette Bistro added 11,696 gallons to the commercial food scrap collection program in 2018.

The food scraps are turned into Emmet County’s Homegrown Compost and is available for purchase at the recycling center. Whether customers load the purchases into their own vehicles or seek the recycling crew’s help, these food scraps are turned into compost and woodchips.

According to Emmet County Recycling, “Between raised garden beds, hoop houses, container gardening, landscaping in and around buildings, planting trees and bushes and re-seeding of lawns, our compost has no limitations to its usage and is far better at growing and sustaining plant life than topsoil.”

Last year, the Emmet County commercial food scrap collection program reached 1 million pounds of food scraps diverted from landfill for composting.

A large part of Wineguys Restaurant Group’s recycling effort involves cardboard.

With weekly and twice-weekly cardboard collection, the restaurant operators note their desire to make a difference and reduce their carbon footprint.

“We are proud of our recycling efforts and continue to embrace areas to reduce our environmental impact every year,” said Bob Keedy, Wineguys Restaurant Group partner.

“Since 2018, for example, we’ve diverted nearly 17,000 plastic straws from landfills simply by converting to paper straws at Palette Bistro,” Keedy added.

“That’s only one of our initiatives. Imagine what our numbers will look like in 2019.”

See all the nominations for Michigan's Most Iconic restaurant

See all the nominations for Michigan’s Most Iconic restaurant

It’s been a whirlwind of restaurant nominations over the last week, as we sorted through over 200 for Michigan’s Most Iconic Restaurant, our current Michigan’s Best search.

We are searching for the incredible spots across Michigan that have been open for years, and yet remain a favorite to this day. Places that are steeped in history, and that are destinations for generations of diners. Spots that serve up delicious dishes that you can only get there, or places that are just beloved by the local regulars for always serving up quality food.

These are the places you go to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary, or that you visit every year as a family tradition.

We are looking for these very special spots all across Michigan, from the Upper Peninsula all the way to the southern border, from big-city favorites, to gems in the tiniest of towns.

What we got in the way of nominations was a total grab bag of every type of establishment you could possibly find across Michigan.

From coney islands, to pizza places, from white tablecloth spots, to dive bars, you guys nominated all sorts of eateries. We love the crazy variety of what ‘iconic’ means to our readers, and salute you.

We should probably apologize for not being clearer about what we were thinking for this search. We hear at Michigan’s Best even talked about how we maybe should have named this search differently, instead of iconic, maybe we should have asked where is Michigan’s most classic restaurant, or historical, or……well, there really isn’t just one word to describe what we are looking for.

It doesn’t really matter at this point, we are searching for the most iconic restaurant. And while places like American Coney and Lafayette may be some of the most well known restaurants in Michigan, which truly does make them iconic spots, that’s not what we are looking for during this search.

We are looking for those sit-down restaurants, supper clubs, dining rooms, that are the places you go for that special occasion like an anniversary or a birthday. Those spots that have been open for decades, and still are an integral part of the local food scene, that offer incredible, warm service, and home made classic food.  The special restaurants that have been part of your family’s history forever.

Below are all the nominations that we got for Most Iconic Restaurant, over 200 spots were nominated. We’ll be going through the list, and narrowing it down to restaurants that fit the profile for what we are looking for, and then putting them into regional polls.

The polls will open on Monday April 29 and will stay open until noon on May 3, so be sure to come back to to vote for your favorites.

Starting May 6, our Michigan’s Best team of Amy Sherman and John Gonzalez will be hitting the road to start visiting some of these amazing nominations, and reporting back what they find and sharing the best dishes that they taste.

We look forward to heading out, and seeing first hand what makes these places so special, and sharing these local businesses stories with all of you.

It's time to make your pick for Michigan's Most Iconic Restaurant

It’s time to make your pick for Michigan’s
Most Iconic Restaurant

The nominations are in, and our polls are open for Michigan’s Most Iconic Restaurant. We have six regional polls for you to vote in, to let us know your very favorite special spots.

We got a total grab bag of nominees for this search, from fine dining establishments, to coney islands, to dive bars. We love the variety of places that Michiganders have loved for years, and appreciate all the nominations.

For this search, we are looking for those special occasion spots, that have been open for years, and yet remain a favorite to this day. Places that are steeped in history, either through their historical location or their long standing menu,  and that are destinations for generations of diners. Spots that serve up delicious dishes that you can only get there, or places that are just beloved by the local regulars for always serving up quality food through the years.

These are the places you go to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary, toast your new promotion, or that you visit every year as a family tradition.

While many places that were nominated have incredible history, as well as reputations across Michigan, we are looking for those sit down restaurants that will truly help you celebrate a special day in a big way.

In order to be included, restaurants had to be locally owned, and open for at least 20 years.

We have quite a selection of spots to vote for across Michigan.

The deadline to vote is noon Friday May 3, 2019.

You can vote once per hour, per email address. Poll Winners will be revealed later in the day on May 3, and the poll winner in each region will be guaranteed a visit from our Michigan’s Best team of John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman.

Links to all of the polls are below.

Restaurant Group to Host Three Benefits for Local Non-Profit Organizations

Restaurant Group to Host Three Benefits

for Local Non-Profit Organizations

PETOSKEY, MICHIGAN — In 2017, Wineguys Restaurant Group (owners of City Park Grill, Palette Bistro, and Roast & Toast in Petoskey) started Eating for Others in conjunction with City Park Grill’s 20th Anniversary. The goal: recognize deserving local non-profit organizations and make a 10% donation from lunch and dinner proceeds the first three Wednesdays in May. Now in its third year, these annual benefits continue to gain momentum.


Eating for Others beneficiaries were selected following restaurant staff collaboration to compile a list of ten deserving charities. Through an online survey, Wineguys Frequent Diners narrowed the list to three — one for each restaurant, the first three Wednesdays in May. “We were pleased with the number of votes received, nearly tripling the 2018 tally,” explains Bob Keedy, Wineguys Restaurant Group partner. “We are hoping that this increased interest will encourage area residents to eat out to support these deserving charities.”


Each organization will receive 10% of all dining proceeds on the following dates, and checks will be presented in late May.


Wednesday, May 1, at City Park Grill

Little Traverse Humane Bay

Serving the needs of homeless animals in the community since 1951, Little Traverse Bay Humane Society is a no-kill shelter that offers a temporary home to companion animals. Located between Harbor Springs and Petoskey, serves include pet adoptions, veterinary services, boarding, grooming, doggy daycare, and training. (


Wednesday, May 8, at Roast & Toast (downtown and McLaren Medical Building)

Brother Dan’s Food Pantry

Established in 2003 in honor Franciscan Brother Dan Badsing, the food pantry is a non-denominational outreach ministry of the St. Francis Xavier Parish community serving Emmet County and surrounding communities. The pantry is staffed 100% by community volunteers and serves an average of 500 – 600 families every two weeks. According to the website ( “We don’t simply provide food, we provide wholesome meals that lend dignity to a family’s experience.” Ongoing for many years, Roast & Toast donates two stockpots of soup to the pantry each week.


Wednesday, May 15, at Palette Bistro

Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

Northern Michigan contains some of the most important, diverse, and pristine water resources on earth. Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council protects these waters — Great Lakes, inland lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and ground water — for future generations to enjoy their unspoiled character. Since 1979, the Watershed Council has protected the water resources of Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, and Emmet Counties. Supported by members of full-time and seasonal residents, lake associations, and businesses, the Watershed Council focus is on environmental integrity and economic and aesthetic values of water resources. (


“We are proud to continue the Eating for Others tradition,” Keedy adds. “It gives all of us an opportunity to recognize organizations that are doing great work in our communities.”

For more information about Wineguys Restaurant Group, its restaurants, and to see a full calendar of events, visit or call 231.347.0101.

Northern Michigan Restaurant Group Leading the Charge for Earth Day

Northern Michigan Restaurant Group

Leading the Charge for Earth Day

PETOSKEY, MICHIGAN — Earth Day is celebrated worldwide on Monday, April 22. The idea for this day at its inception in 1970 was to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Now, nearly 50 years later, 193 countries participate each year. Here in northern Michigan, Wineguys Restaurant Group, owners of City Park Grill, Palette Bistro and Roast & Toast, have implemented a recycling program in each restaurant and the numbers are out of this world.

With mixed container bins, plus three paper, box and bags bins, each restaurant works diligently to decrease their environmental footprint. In 2018 alone, City Park Grill recycled 60,000 gallons. Roast & Toast recycled roughly 50,000 gallons. And, Palette Bistro recycled 30,000 gallons. Pretty impressive numbers for one year, wouldn’t you agree?

In coordination with Emmet County Recycling, a food scrap collection program was started at City Park Grill and Roast & Toast in 2015. Over the past four years, City Park Grill has diverted 52,363 pounds of food scrap from landfill and Roast & Toast produced 25,904 gallons of compost for the community. Palette Bistro added 11,696 gallons to the commercial food scrap collection program in 2018. That’s nearly 90,000 gallons in total!

What happens to these food scraps? It is turned into Emmet County’s Homegrown Compost and is available for purchase at the recycling center. Whether you load it or they load, these food scraps are turned into compost and woodchips. According to Emmet County Recycling “Between raised garden beds, hoop houses, container gardening, landscaping in and around buildings, planting trees and bushes and re-seeding of lawns, our compost has no limitations to its usage and is far better at growing and sustaining plant life than topsoil.”

Last year, the Emmet County commercial food scrap collection program reached one million pounds of food scraps diverted from landfill for composting. That’s a lot of recycling!

Don’t forget about all of the cardboard, a huge part of Wineguys Restaurant Group recycled products. With weekly and twice-weekly cardboard collection, Wineguys restaurants are determined to make a difference and reduce their carbon footprint.

“We are proud of our recycling efforts and continue to embrace areas to reduce our environmental impact every year,” explains Bob Keedy, Wineguys Restaurant Group partner. “Since 2018, for example, we’ve diverted nearly 17,000 plastic straws from landfills simply by converting to paper straws at Palette Bistro,” he adds, “and that’s only one of our initiatives. Imagine what our numbers will look like in 2019?”

Where's the best burger in Petoskey?

Where’s the Best Burger in Petoskey?

As seen in Up North Live  by AnnMarie Kent |

EMMET COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) — For the next Blake’s Best Bites we want to know where the best burger is in Petoskey?

14 burger joints are part of our Petoskey Burger Card, but which has the best burger?

Check out the restaurants below:

  1. Bob’s Place
  2. Chandler’s Restaurant
  3. City Park Grill
  4. Duffy’s Garage & Grill
  5. Johan’s Burger Express
  6. JR’s Grill and Pub
  7. JW Filmores
  8. Mitchell St. Pub
  9. Northwood Restaurant
  10. Petoksey Brewing
  11. Piersons
  12. Pour
  13. Southwoods Pub
  14. Tap 30 Brewery

The Petoskey Burger Card gives you one burger at each of those restaurants. A $159 value for $39.

Take a Spring Break Staycation in Petoskey

Take a Spring Break Staycation in Petoskey

As seen in Up North Live  by Hannah Cumler |

EMMET COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU)– Residents of northern Michigan could often take for granted the fact that they live in a popular travel destination.

So why not take some time to enjoy the place that people flock to all summer long, with a staycation?

Local businesses in Petoskey are making staycations that much more enticing by offering special deals and promotions at area restaurants and hotels this spring.

If you’re not able to getaway for spring break, then check out Stafford’s Perry Hotel for a lodging option like no other.

From March 22 through April 2, people can book a Staycation Package at the historic hotel that includes one night of lodging for $99 with breakfast and a goodie bag included.

The package also offers $20 Dining Dollars and $25 in Downtown Dollars to jump start guests shopping and dining experiences.

Area restaurants are also getting involved, like Roast & Toast. The popular Petoskey cafe is offering a free kids meal with the purchase of two entrees.

Take a spring break staycation in Petoskey

Roast & Toast isn’t the only restaurant, City Park Grill is offering two free kids meals or one free dessert to share with the purchase of two entrees. Additionally, at Palette Bistro, you can receive $7 off Taste of Palette or free dessert during lunch with purchase of a lunch entree.

For more information on Perry Hotel, click here.

For more information on restaurant deals, click here.

Tastemaker – City Park Grill Biscuits Make More News

Tastemaker – City Park Grill’s Biscuits Make More News

As seen in Northern Express

You might credit the low-carb wave for your whittling your middle, but we blame it for washing away the white-flour wonder of a pre-meal bread basket. That’s why we’re especially grateful for the City Park Grill, which hasn’t served a single meal in more than 20 years without first delivering to its guests the best biscuits in America. Literally. The digital magazine Only in Your State ( recently named City Park’s “buttery, flaky, incredibly delicious… perfectly baked” biscuits No. 1 in the nation. We not only concur, we recommend you get your own buns ther to try some soon. Find City Park Grill at 432 E. Lake St., Petoskey. (231) 347-0101,

The Best Biscuits In America Can Be Found In Small Town Michigan

The Best Biscuits In America Can Be Found In Small Town Michigan

As seen on Only in Your State

Is there anything better than a warm, wonderfully prepared biscuit? We think not. While many of America’s tastiest biscuits can be found throughout the Southern states, we can’t help but brag about the fresh-baked option available at one Michigan eatery. We might be biased, but we think the biscuits from this Great Lakes State restaurant are well worth venturing northward for.

City Park Grill is located at 432 E Lake St in Petoskey.

This fantastic spot, which sits within one of Michigan’s most charming small towns, is the perfect place to drop by when hunger strikes after a day of sightseeing.

The restaurant is situated in one of Petoskey’s oldest buildings, originally constructed in 1875. Durings its earlier days as a saloon, Ernest Hemingway even spent time here.

Today, City Park Grill maintains a reputation of excellence among locals and tourists alike. As soon as you set foot inside, you’ll feel like you’ve taken a step back in time.

While everything on the menu is fantastic, there’s one item here that steals the show. Upon sitting down, you’ll be presented with an order of freshly baked biscuits.

That’s right: as you make your entree selections, take a few minutes to indulge in the buttery, flaky, incredibly delicious flavors of a perfectly baked biscuit.

Upon ordering your main course, which might range from whitefish to a biscuit sandwich, be sure request additional biscuits for the table. Talk about tasty!

By the time your meal at this Victorian-inspired restaurant is through, you’ll feel as if you’ve discovered a hidden gem. History, service, and biscuits: what’s not to love?

Eating for Others 2018: Supporting Local Non-profits

Eating for Others 2018

Supporting Local Non-profits

Celebrating our second year of Eating for Others, Wineguys Restaurant Group expanded the event this year to include one night at each restaurant – City Park Grill, Palette Bistro, and Roast & Toast. Organizations were selected by staff members, then narrowed down by Wineguys Restaurant Group frequent diners.

The selected non-profits for 2018 were The Café Society through the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan, and McLaren Northern Michigan Kathleen Jontz Breast Health Fund.

Congratulations to the recipients, and thank you to all of our patrons who dined at each restaurant to support these great programs. Letters of gratitude and thanks are shown below.


Eat Your Way From Mackinaw to Manistee: Summer's Restaurant Road


As seen in Northern Express, May 2018

The 150-mile section of US-31 that stretches from Mackinaw to Manistee is one of the most scenic and historically interesting routes you’ll find anywhere. And our warm-weather months are a great time to experience its timeless allure. Winding through forests and fields, along the Lake Michigan shoreline and past rivers, streams and inland lakes, this rural undivided highway is also dotted with charming towns and villages that boast many of the same attractions that have drawn visitors to them for over a century, as well as modern enhancements that have revitalized them.

In 1932, the recently established Michigan Tourist and Resort Association (later renamed the West Michigan Tourist Association) touted West Michigan as “The Playground of a Nation.” And indeed, whatever your idea of the perfect “playground” is, you’ll almost certainly find it here: beaches, lighthouses, marinas, golf courses, fishing and boating, hiking and biking trails, campgrounds, wineries and breweries, museums and art galleries, lovingly restored movie theaters, annual outdoor festivals, and lively downtown shopping districts.

That said, at some point before or after “playing,” you’ll want to eat — and chances are, you’d like that to be a memorable local experience, too. Lucky for you — especially in this day and age when restaurants seem to appear and disappear like the sun popping in and out of fluffy cumulus clouds on a Northern Michigan summer’s day — some of our region’s most classic eateries are still alive and well. They have not only survived, but thrived though the ups and downs of the economy, evolving culinary trends, and society’s changing tastes. So come along and discover, or perhaps rediscover, some of these enduring local gems …

The Straits to Petoskey
The Mackinac Bridge opened to great fanfare in 1956, and the Mackinaw City restaurant that later became Audie’s opened that same year. US-31 reached all the way to the bridge and beyond then, but later, its northern end was moved to just south of town, intersecting with I-75.  Audie’s huge menu highlights freshwater fish (eight different preparations of whitefish!), which is not surprising, given its immediate proximity to two of the five Great Lakes — but there is a wide array of other choices as well, in intentionally distinct dining areas.

The rustic “up north” lodge décor extends from the Native American-themed, casual fine dining Chippewa Room (oysters Rockefeller, Hunter’s elk with mushrooms, onions and pepper), to the informal Family Room (breakfast treats like the Sportsman’s special with New York Strip and eggs, Audie’s “secret recipe” pancakes; lunch entrées like the half-pound Angus chili and cheddar dog, New Orleans chicken), and the hunting-themed Welcome Lounge (cocktails, beer, wine and a separate smaller menu).

Home cooking is a tradition here, also with breads, pastries, pies and desserts (hot fudge cream puff, strawberry shortcake). You won’t go away hungry! Nearby: Colonial Fort Michilimackinac, ferries to Mackinac Island, boat tours on the Straits of Mackinac, Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, Headlands International Dark Sky Park.

We’ve barely begun our US-31 dining adventure and already we’re taking you on a short detour at the intersection of M-119, just outside of Petoskey to the north — but The New York restaurant in Harbor Springs is well worth those few extra miles. Housed in a stately red brick building across from picturesque Little Traverse Bay, The New York is continuing a legacy of hospitality that began there with a hotel, bar and restaurant in 1904. Its present configuration dates back to 1977. Guests today are treated to creative, sophisticated appetizers and entrées (smoked whitefish ravioli, veal roulades, braised lamb shank) prepared with seasonal and local ingredients, a vast wine and spirits selection (New and Old World reds and whites, single malt whiskey flights), and decadent house-made desserts (bumpy cake, dried cherry bread pudding), all served by professionally trained staff in an elegant, yet relaxed atmosphere. Nearby: Boyne Highlands, Zorn Park, Tunnel of Trees, Thorn Swift Nature Preserve, Pond Hill Farm, Lyric Theatre

Back in Petoskey, we head to the City Park Grill in the historic Gaslight District. The building began life in 1875 as an all-male billiard hall serving “intoxicating beverages.” Over the next century, a restaurant was added, and it went through several name changes leading up to the present appellation in 1997, which came with new owners and a complete renovation.

Today, the mahogany bar where Ernest Hemingway used to sit and write during the 1920s (his picture now hangs above it) has been restored to its former glory, along with the tin ceiling and the rest of the interior. The current menu lists several intriguing selections (smoked pork poutine, steak on a stick, Creole gumbo, house-made meatloaf with wild mushroom-bleu cheese gravy and truffled mashed potatoes) complemented by a beverage menu on which Michigan beers and white wines are well represented. Nearby: Bayfront Park, Bay View Music Festival, Crooked Tree Arts Center, Petoskey State Park, Odawa Casino, Bay Harbor

Charlevoix to Interlochen
Following US-31 from Petoskey seventeen miles to the south, much of the way hugging the Lake Michigan shoreline, we reach the lovely harbor town of Charlevoix, nestled between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix. There, overlooking the Pine River Channel, right next to the town’s iconic drawbridge, the Weathervane restaurant was built on the site of an old 19th century grist mill in the mid-1950s and soon became a local landmark.

One of several properties belonging to the legendary Northern Michigan restaurant group Stafford’s Hospitality, it is a must stop for lunch and dinner year round, but especially in summer when the outdoor dining deck beckons. The Weathervane’s main menu focuses on regional cuisine (Great Lakes chowder, oak-planked whitefish, Belvedere chicken salad croissant sandwich, baby back ribs) and Stafford’s signature desserts (cherry- praline ice cream, peanut butter pie). Nearby: Beaver Island Ferry, summer concerts in East Park, Earl Young’s “Mushroom Houses,” Castle Farms, Michigan Beach Lighthouse, Ironton Ferry

Another 50 miles down the road  in Traverse City, Sleder’s Family Tavern, established in 1882 (one the oldest continuously operated taverns in Michigan) awaits with several house specialties (lightly dusted and deep-fried Canadian smelt, the Royal Reuben sandwich, an Oleson’s Farm buffalo burger with Swiss cheese and grilled onions, cherry-barbecued chicken), which customers savor while seated in  wooden booths or at the original 21-foot long bar, surrounded by antique lamps, vintage photographs, and other memorabilia, including the stuffed and mounted heads of various species of wild game, most notably Randolph the Moose, who presides over the scene from his post at the back of the dining room. Giving Randolph a kiss is supposed to bring luck. Nearby: Tall Ship Manitou, Village at Grand Traverse Commons, TART Trail (hiking and biking), State and Bijou Theatres, Clinch Park Beach and Marina, City Opera House, Old Town Playhouse, Dennos Museum Center, Traverse Wine Coast

US-31 goes inland for a bit at this point, and yet another — very small — detour off US-31 onto M-137 in Interlochen brings us to the Hofbrau Steakhouse & American Grill, which was simply the Hofbrau from its inception in 1950 until 2016, when the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, Germany declared a trademark infringement and demanded a change. What hasn’t changed is the restaurant’s popularity among locals and visitors, a good percentage of whom are either students or families of students at the Interlochen Arts Academy or concertgoers for the institution’s annual Arts Festival. The all-you-can-eat Sunday Brunch always attracts a large crowd for the generous buffet (prime rib carving station, made-to order waffles and omelettes, pastries, cheese platter, and more). Standout dishes on the weekly menu (char-grilled cuts of steaks and ribs, homemade pizzas, whitefish, yellow perch) are equally appreciated by the Hofbrau’s enthusiastic clientele. Add 52 beers on tap, as well as a large wine and spirits selection, and it’s no wonder this place has been packing ’em in for almost 70 years. Nearby: the world-renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts 

Frankfort to Manistee
Back on the main highway, the route leads west, back toward Lake Michigan – and yes, just one more little detour, via M-115 to Frankfort — where Dinghy’s Restaurant & Bar has been holding court behind an unassuming brick-and-glass storefront on Main Street for the nearly a quarter century. Inside, a nautical theme pays homage the ferry boats that plied the Great Lakes from Frankfort for 90 years.

Local fishing traditions are also honored, as witnessed by the world-record winning brown trout pulled out of adjacent Betsie Bay that is proudly displayed behind the well-stocked bar (avid fisherman Hemingway would have liked that parallel to his framed photo up at Petoskey’s City Park Grill). Anything besides scratch cooking is non-negotiable in this kitchen and on this menu, which offers seven varieties of house-smoked meats (ribs, pulled pork BBQ, shaved tri-tip sirloin, chicken halves, turkey legs, chicken wings and andouille sausage). Other standouts show up as appetizers (Dinghy’s “famous” onion blossom), handhelds (smoked chicken cherry wrap), Mexican dishes (Betsie Bay burrito) and mains (Kobe sirloin). Nearby: Point Betsie Lighthouse, Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts, Garden Theater, Arcadia Bluffs Overlook Trail

The last stop on our US-31 northern corridor tour is a restaurant that has only been around for five years. However, due to its owners’ rehabilitation of the crumbling Victorian-era building in which it was would be housed and their stated intention to have its resurrection make a positive impact on Manistee’s downtown business district, the Bluefish Kitchen & Bar could be destined to become a new classic.

What once was a ruin is now a beautifully restored, high-ceilinged, brick-walled restaurant reminiscent of a French brasserie, serving thoughtfully sourced and artfully prepared lunches (smoked salmon melt, BLT croissant), appetizers (artisan cheese plate, sausage trio plate), and dinner items (Firehouse ribeye with harvest hash, champagne chicken with parmesan risotto), as well as weekend brunch (apple-goat French toast, pan seared pork belly and eggs), along with a carefully curated list of wines, craft beers and cocktails to match.  Dessert is literally the frosting on the cake (fruit-topped cheesecake, vanilla bean crème brûlée), as is an inviting riverfront dining deck for boat watching extraordinaire. Nearby: Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts, Vogue Theatre, Riverwalk, SS City of Milwaukee/USCGC Acacia, Historical Museum

314 Nicolet Street, Mackinaw City
(231) 436-5744

The New York
101 State Street, Harbor Springs
(231) 526-1904

City Park Grill
432 East Lake Street, Petoskey
Phone: (231) 347-0101

The Weathervane
106 Pine River Lane, Charlevoix
(231) 547-4311

Sleder’s Family Tavern
717 Randolph Street, Traverse City
(231) 947-9213

Hofbrau Steak House & American Grill
2784 M-137, Interlochen
(231) 276-6979

Dinghy’s Restaurant & Bar
415 Main Street, Frankfort
(231) 352-4702

Bluefish Kitchen + Bar
312 River Street, Manistee
(231) 887-4188


25 Years and the Keedy's are Still Cookin' and Brewin'


As seen in Northern Express, April 2018

Mary and Bob Keedy were living in Georgia and dreaming of being entrepreneurs when they decided to stop the dreaming and apply perspiration to their aspirations.

“We decided that we wanted to start our own business,” said Mary. “We had maps spread out all over the table. We looked at Petoskey and thought ‘Oh my gosh, it’s way the hell up there.’ But after looking into the schools and visiting the space, we decided, let’s just go for it.”

Thus was born Roast & Toast, a Petoskey landmark and mecca for lovers of fine coffee and delicious food.

And now they’re celebrating 25 years in business with a month of fun events during May.

“There’s nowhere else we would rather be,” said Mary. “We are so grateful to be here. It’s an awesome place to raise our kids and such a beautiful place to live. We are grateful for our business, for life, for people.”

And coffee lovers are grateful for Roast & Toast, where the philosophy is “Great coffee doesn’t just happen.”

“Using carefully selected beans from around the world, we roast according to bean profile, create blends, and conduct small batch techniques to maintain a selection of freshly roasted varieties,” said Mary. “We never sell coffee more than two weeks old. Any coffee inventory roasted over two weeks prior is donated to Brother Dan’s Food Pantry in Petoskey.”

Each day the Roast & Toast team brews five varieties, rotating the offerings with coffee sourced from around the world. “We like guests to sample the globe with our daily brews,” said Mary. “For those with a favorite origin, we have expertly made French-pressed coffees … we all have our passions.”

Whether crafting a cappuccino or making a mocha, the Roast & Toast baristas are passionate about coffee. For those who prefer a little sweetness and zingy flavor, they offer Northwoods Soda and Syrup’s small-batch syrups made with real cane sugar.

“We are proud to partner with two local businesses that utilize our coffee,” said Mary. “Northwoods Soda makes Espresso Root Beer with our Roast & Toast espresso, and Beards Brewery serves Beards Blend coffee and makes Malabar Black IPA with our Indian Monsoon Malabar coffee.”

Roast & Toast coffee is exclusively served at City Park Grill and Palette Bistro, sister restaurants of Petoskey’s Wineguys Restaurant Group.

But there’s more than coffee to the Roast & Toast experience. Unlike your average coffeehouse, the shop invests mightily to make its food component a staple and stand-out. From baked goods to salad dressings, from hand-cut sandwich meats to breads, everything is made in-house using products from local growers whenever available and in season. Roast & Toast offers options — dine in, take out or even have your party catered.

The Keedys grew up in suburban Detroit and both graduated from Michigan State University. Mary majored in dietetics, while Bob’s degree is in hotel management. He trained in New York City, honing his craft as a professional roaster for 15 years. One of his apprentices was Chuckie Grooters, now Roast & Toast’s head roaster.

Using their savings, the Keedys opened Roast & Toast in the former Port of Call shop in May of 1993.

“We had worked for enough people and had enough (money) saved,” said Mary. “We had looked in Traverse City and my mom, who lived in Alden, actually found the location in Petoskey.”

After seven years, the Keedys launched a facelift and enlisted artist Jesse Hickman to create Roast & Toast’s brightly colored façade, featuring cascading chunks of plates and cups, in 2001.

“Jesse did all the work with the broken cups,” explained Mary. “We feel very blessed to have that.”

Later the Keedys opened a second location at the Burns Professional Building.” We are very grateful to the medical and hospital community for their continued support of Roast & Toast. And, as the hospital grows and expands, we look forward to doing the same with them.”

The Keedys credit much of their success to their low turnover rate. “A lot of our people stay on year after year,” said Mary. “Terry McNabb, a dishwasher, has been with us for 17 years. He’s amazing. He’s here every day, on time, for 17 years.”

Ben Walker, general manager and now part-owner, started at Roast & Toast in 2001 when he was just 18 years old. He had been frequenting the place so often that the Keedys asked him to join the team. He agreed, eventually becoming a partner last year.

“Roast & Toast was my introduction to the local community,” recalled Walker, who grew up in Alanson. “The job here exposed me to what Petoskey is all about. … I wanted to move to Alaska, but after starting to work at Roast & Toast, I fell in love with Petoskey.”

Another key member of the Roast & Toaster team is barista Hillary Davis, who joined in 2015 to train as the assistant roaster. Her skills and knowledge of brewing have made her a quick study in the craft of roasting. She’s a member of both the Baristas Guild and the Roasters Guild.

Year-round the staff numbers about 25, with another dozen or so needed for the busy summer months. [Note to those hungry for employment: “We’re looking for people now,” said Mary. “Since every staff member will interact with customers, we need friendly people with good people skills.”]

Throughout the years, Roast & Toast has always been a charitable organization, supporting local groups through donations and sales of their burlap coffee bags.

“We receive coffee from 16 countries, and more than half are fair trade organic, and some come direct from the coffee farmer,” said Mary. “We source almost all of our beans through Café Imports, a coffee brokerage house based in Minneapolis. They have green-coffee buyers all over the world who build relationships with farmers … . We trust their mission and philosophy for fair and quality purchasing.”

Some of the Michigan companies Roast & Toast supports include the Alden Mill House, Beards Brewery, Big Apple Bagels, Bill’s Farm Market, Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars, Great Lakes Potato Chips, Maple Moon Sugarbush and Winery, Martinchek Dairy, Michigan Dried Cherries and Cherry Concentrate, Northwoods Soda and Syrup, Petoskey Plastics and Plath’s Meats.

Roast & Toast is open 7am to 7pm daily at 309 E. Lake Street in downtown Petoskey. To learn more, visit or call (231) 347-7767. $

Roast & Toast is celebrating its silver anniversary with an event or special every single day in May, plus weekly drawings. The celebration starts May 1 with $2.50 lattes and a new spring-summer menu. Throughout the month you’ll find several 25 percent lunch discounts, roaster facility tours, Throwback Thursdays with ’90s music and classic menu items, plus a nitro-coffee day, and more. Follow the fun on Roast and Toast’s Facebook page.


Roast & Toast 25th Anniversary Newlsetter

Roast & Toast 25th Anniversary

May marks the 25th Anniversary for Roast & Toast with a month-long celebration, read the 25th anniversary newsletter below.

Roast & Toast 25th Anniversary Pairings Dinner

COFFEE PAIRINGS – A Caffeinated Twist on Wine and Beer Pairings Dinners

You’ve heard of wine dinners. Maybe you’ve attended a beer tasting event. Looking for something a little different? Perhaps a new kind of pairings dinner?

In conjunction with Roast & Toast’s 25th Anniversary month-long celebration, make a reservation for the Three-Course Anniversary Coffee Pairing Dinner on Thursday, May 24, from 6 – 8 pm. Guests will enjoy a specialty menu paired perfectly with house-roasted coffees.

The eclectic Roast & Toast restaurant interior will be transformed into a sit-down dinner atmosphere for a limited number of guests. Space is limited, so reservations are required.

Here’s the tempting menu:

  • First Course — Nitro cold brew and salad with housemade white balsamic dressing, crisp prosciutto, spicy pecans, cranberries, and gorgonzola
  • Second Course — French press coffee and espresso-rubbed prime rib with roasted vegetables and barley
  • Third Course — Espresso and chocolate volcano cake

“We are looking forward to presenting this anniversary dinner to guests,” explains Ben Walker, Roast & Toast General Manager. “It is the perfect opportunity to showcase our house-roasted coffees and culinary talent.”

Dinner and coffee pairing is $25/person. Reservations can be made by calling 231.347.7767. Roast & Toast is located downtown Petoskey at 309 E Lake Street. Visit for more about other 25th anniversary events and features, plus information about coffee.

Roast & Toast is part of Wineguys Restaurant Group with sister restaurants City Park Grill and Palette Bistro, also in Petoskey, Michigan. Visit for more.

Northern Michigan Battle of the Bands at City Park Grill

The Battle Is On…
The Battle of the Bands, That Is

The first three Fridays in May – May 4, May 11, May 18 – registered bands will compete before a panel of judges. Musical talent, stage presence, and crowd appeal will be scored with one band each night advancing to the final battle on Friday, June 1. The three finalist will compete to win scheduled gigs including two paid performances at City Park Grill, paid stage time at The Sol of the Lost Tamarack (June 22 – 24 in Wolverine, MI), stage time at Big Wood Show Day (August 5 – 7 in Cross Village, MI), and $300 cash.

“Past events have been a huge draw for music lovers,” adds Sladick. “We’ve hosted a full range of styles – from soloists to country artists, from hard rock groups to alternative trios.”

Different bands will play each night from 10pm – 1:30am. Only a few band slots remain, so those interested in competing should contact City Park Grill at 231.347.0101.

“City Park Grill has been a live music venue for many years. The Battle of Bands is a great way to bring a variety of music to guests and let them participate in the competition,” says Bob Keedy, City Park Grill Owner.

City Park Grill is located at 432 E Lake Street in Petoskey, MI. Click for a complete entertainment schedule or call 231.347.0101.

Roast & Toast Marks 25 Years with a Month-Long Celebration

Roast & Toast Marks 25 Years
with a Month-Long Celebration

PETOSKEY, MICHIGAN – MAY, 2018 – There’s a month-long celebration at Roast & Toast Coffee & Café beginning May 1, and it’s a big one! What’s all the fuss, you may wonder? Mary and Bob Keedy, owners of Roast & Toast are celebrating their 25th year in business, which opened in downtown Petoskey in 1993.

How did the Keedys, who were living in Georgia, choose northern Michigan? Explains Mary, “We were committed to specialty coffee – specifically roasting our own – and decided to start our own business. We had maps spread out all over the kitchen table. We looked at Petoskey and thought it was way the heck up there. But, after looking into the schools and visiting the space, we decided we would just go for it.”

With their savings and all their own resources, Bob and Mary moved their young family to the area and started one of only two roasters in northern Michigan. Bob had trained in New York City and for the next fifteen years honed his craft at Roast & Toast, developing the philosophy that “Great Coffee Doesn’t Just Happen.” Chuckie Grooters, now head roaster at the café, apprenticed under Bob and has been roasting since 2007.

Explains Bob, “Using carefully selected beans from around the world, we roast according to bean profile, create blends, and conduct small batch techniques to maintain a selection of freshly roasted varieties.” Commendable, Bob adds, “We never sell coffee more than two weeks old. Any coffee inventory roasted over two weeks prior is donated to Brother Dan’s Food Pantry in Petoskey.”

In addition to house-roasted coffee, Roast & Toast prides itself on quality food offerings. From baked goods to salad dressings, from hand-cut sandwich meats to breads — everything is made in-house using ingredients from local puveyors whenever possible and in season. Patrons can dine in, take out or have events catered. “We proudly support local purveyors and farmers,” explains Mary. For example, Bill’s Farm Market supplies fresh in-season produce, Alden Mill House supplies custom spice blends, Great Lakes Potato Chips garnish sandwich offerings, Maple Moon Sugarbush and Winery sweetens morning pancakes with maple syrup, Plath’s Meat’s bacon is found on sandwiches and breakfast favorites, and Northwoods Soda & Syrup supplies specialty coffee drink flavors and a variety of sodas, to name only a few.

In 2001, Roast & Toast expanded to include the Burns Professional Building location (now McLaren Medical Office Building). “We are very grateful to the medical and hospital community for their continued support. And, as the hospital grows, we are looking forward to doing the same with them,” says Mary.

Part of the success of Roast & Toast’s 25-year milestone is due to its long-standing, dedicated staff and their community partnerships. Ben Walker, General Manager and Partner, started with the company in 2001 after he frequented the café so often, the Keedys offered him a job. “Roast & Toast was my introduction to the local community. I wanted to move to Alaska, but after starting work here, I fell in love with Petoskey.”

Throughout the years, the Keedys have supported the community. Proceeds from the sale of their burlap coffee bags, for example, support Manna Food Project. In conjunction with Emmet County Recycling, all coffee grounds are recycled into the food scrap program, avoiding the landfill. Through the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Community Foundation, they support The Café Society, a fund created by artist William Hosner to provide baristas and coffee employees with college scholarship opportunities. It’s no surprise why they attract multiple generations of family members to staff their café.

Now, 25 years later, the Keedys couldn’t imagine living or operating a business anywhere but in Petoskey. “We are thankful for our business, for life, for kids, for people. We can’t wait to see what the next 25 years will bring,” concludes Mary.

The anniversary kick-off celebration begins Tuesday, May 1, with $2.50 Latté Day. Weekly drawings will be held throughout the month. Curbside Cappuccino, where discounted drinks will be made outside, and Throwback Thursdays, with 90’s music and old menu offerings, are part of the festivities. Roaster Tours offered on May 4 and May 18 at 10am give guests an inside look at the art of roasting. Interested in learning more about coffee – from brewing differences to bean origins? Make a reservation for the Coffee Tasting event on May 11; it’s only $15 and includes a complimentary coffee mug.

For more information about month-long happenings at Roast & Toast, visit or call 231.347.7767.

Spain Comes to Petoskey: A Winemaker's Dinner

Spain Comes to Petoskey:
A Winemaker’s Dinner

PETOSKEY, MICHIGAN – APRIL 5, 2018 – In town for one night only, Palette Bistro will host Bodega Numanthia winemaker Daniel del Rio from Toro, Spain, on Thursday, April 5 at 6:30pm. Bodega Numanthia’s wines consistently receive top ratings at 90 points and higher from Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, and James Suckling.

“We are thrilled to bring Daniel del Rio to Petoskey,” explains Shannon Humm, Certified Sommelier at Palette Bistro. “This is a great opportunity to learn about award-winning Spanish wines.”

Chef Jeremy Pomeroy has paired several Spanish tapas-style courses with these incredible red Toro wines.

To start on a sparkling note, Palette will pour Moet-Chandon Champagne NV with the first course: Oysters and White Gazpacho — oyster, caper, orange, manzanilla olive, gazpacho, garlic, Marcona almond, grape, and bread. The courses to follow include:

  • 2nd Course: Pouring 2014 Termes (90 WS 94 JS) paired with Tuna Montadito & Ensalada — tuna montadito, sesame crusted tuna, roasted leeks, romesco, toast, ensalada, serrano ham, melon ribbons, saffron oil, mint vinegar
  • 3rd Course: Pouring 2013 Numanthia (95 WS 96 JS) paired with Chicken Wing Confit & Caramelized Tomato — chicken wing confit, slow cooked wing, pimento, white bean puree, cucumber-olive-mint salsa caramelized tomato, slow roasted tomato, pine nuts, cabrales bleu cheese, sherry vinegar
  • 4th Course: Pouring 2012 Termanthia (95 WS 95 WE) paired with Lamb Ribs & Squid — lamb ribs, cocoa-cumin crusted riblets, sweet patatas bravas, chipotle aioli, squid, caramelized onion & fennel, black pepper- albarino butter sauce
  • 5th Course — Housemade yogurt ice cream, blood orange, vanilla

“This winemaker dinner is a perfect way to celebrate spring with tapas, champagne and world-renowned Bodega Numanthia wines,” adds Humm.

Cost is $60/person which includes four wines and five-course dinner. Palette Bistro is located at 321 Bay Street, downtown Petoskey. Reservations are required by calling 231.348.3321. For more information about Palette Bistro events, visit

Local Restaurants Make Staycations More Attractive

Local Restaurants Team Up
to Make Spring Break
Staycations More Attractive

“Not everyone can take off for a week-long spring break,” explains Bob Keedy of Wineguys Restaurant Group. “We wanted to reach out to our friends and neighbors to make a stay-at-home spring break a little more appealing.”

Beginning on Friday, March 23, Wineguys’ three downtown Petoskey restaurants – City Park Grill, Palette Bistro, and Roast & Toast — will offer great dining deals for locals.

At City Park Grill, guests receive two free kids meals or a free dessert to share with the purchase of two entrées. (231.347.0101 | 432 E Lake Street). At Palette Bistro, guests receive $7 off Taste of Palette or free dessert during lunch with purchase of a lunch entrée. (231.348.3321 | 321 Bay Street). At Roast & Toast, guests receive a free kids meal with purchase of two meals. (231.347.7767 | 309 E Lake Street).

“We’re staying home, and we look forward to seeing others who do the same,” Keedy adds. “Petoskey is a great place to be this time of year – a little quiet with lots of sun.”

Staycation deals are available at all three restaurants March 23 – 31, 2018. For more information about restaurant happenings and specials, visit

Palette Bistro Goes Green for St. Patrick's Day

Release 3/14/18


Palette Bistro Goes Green for St. Patrick’s Day

With a little luck of the Irish, Palette Bistro is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day weekend a bit differently than in years past. They’re going green! Nope, it’s not always about the beer. Palette Bistro, with beautiful views of Little Traverse Bay, plans to do their part in helping to eliminate the nearly 22 million pounds of plastic flow to the Great Lakes by going straw-less. And, they hope you do, too.

Did you know that roughly 11 million pounds of plastic is contaminating Lake Michigan alone? According to the National Park Service, Americans use roughly 500 million straws each day. This would fill over 125 school buses daily and an estimate of 46,400 buses every year.

Mike Zagaroli, Palette Bistro General Manager, explains, “Northern Michigan is a destination spot because of our beautiful bay and pristine beaches. After comments from restaurant guests and a push from our staff, we’re moving toward decreasing our carbon footprint and raising awareness, too. We’re not the first in the community to go straw-less — kudos to Teddy Griffin’s for initiating the charge — and we certainly hope we aren’t the last.”

In February 2011, the Be Straw Free Campaign was started by then nine-year-old, Milo Cress of Burlington, Vermont. Today, Eco-Cycle has continued the crusade to end the use of straws in restaurants, schools and theme parks. And, it is making a difference.

Consider this fact, the average person in the United States uses about 38,000 straws in their lifetime between the ages of 5 and 65, enough straws to wrap around the earth 2 ½ times. It’s no wonder the people at Palette Bistro are ready for a change.

“It would be incredible if we could get other businesses to try straw-less and see what kind of impact it would make on our Great Lakes,” challenges Zagaroli.

Palette Bistro is located at 321 Bay Street in downtown Petoskey. For more information on hours, visit For more information on the Be Straw Free Campaign, visit

8 Downtown Restaurants to Visit this Winter

As seen in Traverse Magazine, December 2017



downtown restaurants

We’re heading to Suttons Bay, Traverse City, Charlevoix, Petoskey, and Harbor Springs for good eats and a little shopping. Read on as we seek out some of the North’s hippest downtown restaurants.



321 Bay St., Petoskey | 231.348.3321
The panoramic glass in Palette Bistro’s dining room blends a line between Little Traverse Bay in a frothy December gray-scale and plates of seared scallops with roasted peach pancetta and bright green arugula. Rotating local art exhibitions hang beside cozy low-top tables, where patrons sip garnet glasses of cru beaujolais and nosh on glazed quail with roasted corn relish and risotto. Chef Jeremy Pomeroy and his culinary team embrace a fusionistic, pan-Mediterranean style with seasonally rotating paellas and risottos, entrées like pork porterhouse with chorizo vinaigrette and sherry vinegar. Small plate offerings include sautéed halloumi with crystallized pistachio and micro greens, or John Cross smoked salmon over local greens with crispy chickpeas and lemon-curry dressing. The beverage menu is anchored by an affordably diverse Euro-centric wine list, proprietary cocktails like The Grand with Grand Marnier, elderflower liqueur and Cava, as well as half-a-dozen Michigan craft draughts from the likes of Petoskey Brewing, Founder’s and Short’s.


201 E. Front St., Traverse City | 231.943.2850
Mingle at the Enomatic where 50-plus international wines pour forth, and then sit down to the bright flavors of Lebanese mezze.



329 E. State St., Traverse City | 231.252.8001
Chef Adam McMarlin, formerly of Bay Leaf and The Cooks’ House, serves up sublime housemade charcuterie, designer poutine, and handmade pastas.



303 N. Joseph St., Suttons Bay | 231.271.1175
The third point in a triangle that includes the eponymous farmstead and bakery, this Suttons Bay cafe serves literal farm-to-table fare, craft cocktails, local and international vino.



308 Belvedere Ave., Charlevoix | 231.547.9261
Chef/Owners Darren and Kelly Rinaldi serve seasonal oysters, seared big eye tuna, steaks, and a weekly sushi menu in their converted Victorian two blocks north of the Charlevoix strip.



422 E. Mitchell St., Petoskey | 231.881.9800
Street food small plates like pork belly tacos and rib tips with waffles get washed back with a glass of Spanish bobal or proprietary cocktails like the Bourbon Harvest at this chicly appointed Petoskey hangout.



202 S. Lake St., Boyne City | 231.459.4215
The monks have set up shop on the coast of Lake Charlevoix, spreading the gospel of bottle-fermented Belgian dubbels and badass burgers with bacon jam or platters of crispy Brussels sprouts.



130 State St., Harbor Springs | 231.526.2967
Relocated from its former digs at Boyne Mountain, Pierson’s now calls downtown Harbor Springs home. Hit the boutiques then sit down to a cold pint and a wild mushroom pizza.

Traverse food and drinks editor Tim Tebeau writes from Petoskey.

City Park Grill Celebrates 20th Anniversary

As seen in the Petoskey News Review, April 2017


Fresh tastes, historic surroundings: City Park Grill blends old with new over 20 years

City Park GrillPETOSKEY — Twenty years ago, new owners set out to freshen up a dining spot with more than a century of history in downtown Petoskey.

Along with fixing some deteriorating building features and rolling out a more contemporary menu, the partners in what’s now known as Wineguys Restaurant Group tweaked the identity of the eatery at 432 E. Lake St., swapping the decades-old Park Garden Cafe moniker for a new name, City Park Grill.

The new identity wasn’t universally embraced back in 1997 — Wineguys partner Bob Keedy recalls some letters to the editor that decried the name change — but the restaurant next to Pennsylvania Park settled into a successful sales pace relatively quickly.

“We tried to make sure the quality of food and service was what it had to be,” said Keedy.

Keedy and his wife, Mary, had launched downtown’s Roast and Toast Cafe in 1993. Within several years, they had struck up a business partnership with local attorneys Dick and Laura Dinon and sought to develop a broad-based, full-service downtown dining establishment. The Park Garden location was bigger than what the partners originally had in mind, Keedy said, but they ultimately decided to try their hand there after learning of the purchase opportunity.

Along with fixing a leaky roof and replacing outdated restaurant equipment early on, the City Park Grill operators have freshened the dining areas. Patrick Faylor — who worked as a server early in the City Park Grill years and is now the restaurant’s general manager and a Wineguys partner — noted that this included new chandeliers and period-correct painting in one dining room and more extensive renovations in another. They also revamped a portion of the bar area to provide a new stage for an expanded live entertainment schedule, as well as additional customer seating between performances. A mahogany bar installed at the restaurant late in the 19th century remains.

While some of the original City Park Grill menu offerings remain — flank steak and the City Park salad, for example — Keedy noted that the food choices have evolved over time, with increasing emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. And while the partners continue to pride themselves on their wine list, they’ve also responded to the growing enthusiasm for craft beer, expanding the selection available on tap, as well as craft cocktails.

And although the partners were looking for fresh approaches when they took over the property, they’ve since embraced the value of the building’s past — offering tours of the property, for example.

“We soon realized that we had to emphasize the history,” Keedy said.

The building was constructed by Alonzo McCarthy in 1875. Known early on as McCarthy Hall, it was a billiard hall that offered “intoxicating beverages” for the male-only clientele of those years. Frank Gruclich, who acquired the building in 1888, changed the name to The Annex and added food to the offerings. A subsequent owner, Frank Fochtman, added the Grill Cafe to the east of the original structure and defied prohibition as it took hold in Michigan in the 1910s — creating underground tunnels to move the banned alcoholic beverages in and out. Ernest Hemingway would frequent The Annex while spending time in Petoskey in the post-World War I era, jotting down ideas for short stories and books while seated at the bar.

During the City Park Grill years, numerous other dining spots have set up shop around Petoskey and in neighboring towns. Along with innovations to meet evolving consumer tastes, Keedy believes a basic ongoing commitment to an appealing dining experience has helped the restaurant endure.

“We consistently execute great food and service,” he said.

Through the years, Wineguys has expanded to include additional partners, Patrick Faylor and John Norman, as well as a third downtown dining spot, Palette Bistro, which opened in late 2010.

This spring, City Park Grill has scheduled several special activities to commemorate its 20th anniversary, including several themed food and drink events, drink specials and entertainment on Tuesdays and “Eating for Others” promotions on the first four Wednesdays in May, with a portion of dinner sales benefiting local nonprofits. The celebration will culminate on May 30, with frequent diner appreciation offerings, presentations of checks to the nonprofits and prize drawings.


Behind the Menus

Behind the Menus

As seen in Northern Express, May, 2014

Not too long ago, chains and greasy spoons defined Up North dining for many visiting the region.

While those spots still have a place here, fine dining has been redefined by restaurateurs who eschew fancy for fresh décor, vibe, and most importantly, what’s going on the table.

It took 20 years, but the Wineguys Restaurant Group finally gelled in 2010 after opening Palette Bistro in Petoskey, the group’s third venture there.

The Wineguys – Bob Keedy, Mary Keedy, Dick Dinon, Laura Dinon, Patrick Faylor, and John Norman – own City Park Grill as well as Roast and Toast.

What should people know about your restaurants?

We have three very unique experiences with our restaurants. The City Park Grill is housed in one of Petoskey’s oldest buildings and was frequented by Ernest Hemingway. It is known for our famous hot biscuits and a wide array of offerings including whitefish from John Cross Fisheries and our apple wood grilled steaks.

Roast and Toast roasts all of our own coffee, including fair trade organic beans. Also, we are known for our daily creations of soups, bread, bakery items and awardwinning salads since 1993.

Palette Bistro is a Mediterranean-inspired, casual upscale restaurant featuring small plates and rustic brick oven preparations complemented by European wines and Michigan craft beers. Two floors of seating offer stunning Little Traverse Bay views. All are committed to local products and exceeding our guests’ expectations.

Any challenges?

Our challenges include always finding and retaining the best staff available and maintaining great value for guests, especially with current cost pressures.

What is your diner profile?

Our guests are a wide cross-section with all of our visitors and locals. We try to tailor their experience to their individual needs and provide a great value for them.

Any favorite restaurants?

The restaurant scene in Petoskey has become very good over the years. There is a wide array of restaurants in the downtown offering great quality, variety, innovation, and local products offered up by local operators dedicated to outstanding guest service.

What’s next?

City Park Grill recently completed the renovation of The Hemingway Room and a brand new dinner and lunch menu. The outdoor dining spaces will be opening soon at Palette Bistro and our new lunch menu is now available. Roast and Toast’s new menu starts this month and customers should try one of our new coffee blends in one of our French press coffee makers.

What is your vision for your dream restaurant?

A great staff serving great locally influenced food at a great value.

It was on a 1996 trip out West that Jon Carlson and Greg Lobdell – best friends since kindergarten at Traverse City’s Old Mission Elementary School – decided to go into business together.

That partnership today comprises restaurants and breweries in Traverse City, Royal Oak, and Ann Arbor. The five northern ventures include Mission Table (formerly Bowers Harbor Inn), North Peak Brewing Company, Kilkenny’s Irish Public House, Blue Tractor, and Jolly Pumpkin.

What should people know about your restaurants?

[Jon Carlson]I think it is important to know that they are all individual owned with different operating partners onsite. There is no big umbrella company owning these. Greg and I are the main owners of all of them. We let each restaurant stand on its own and let the partner onsite and staff drive the concept.

Sure, we all meet and share ideas and save on purchasing and so on, but we work so hard to keep them unique and independent – that’s key!

Any challenges?

I think the biggest challenge is facing new and exciting competition. We actually love the new places and strive to continually improve. We put a lot of money back in every three years both with interior, staff, and concept changes.

What is your diner profile here versus downstate?

No real difference. Royal Oak, Ann Arbor, and Traverse City all have very educated customers. They all want great food and great service! The only difference is Traverse City still gets a ton of new customers during the summer so you need to be ready.

Do you think the “foodie” label for this area is accurate?

Oh, yeah. It is crazy up here now. Great chefs are choosing Northern Michigan now to live and work. We love it. Our partner, Paul Olson, at Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin, moved back to Michigan after living in NYC and Connecticut. Although he grew up downstate Michigan, he chose to come to Traverse City. What a prize for us to get such a talent as a partner and chef!

What’s next?

Kilkenny’s just went through a big update on interior and drink/food menu and we still have more work to do there before summer. North Peak was done last spring. Blue Tractor is getting a new remodel and new menu and some more smokers. [Blue Tractor] has continuously grown 15 percent each year for the last three years and we are adding a new seating, new bar, and possibly new rooftop deck. To handle this, we have to add more equipment for bbqing!

Any favorite restaurants?

Well, I have always been a big fan of Omelette Shoppe. I also really like Towne Plaza.

We always have our holiday party there – they are talented. Of course, I still love Sleders and Mode’s!

What is your vision for your dream restaurant?

Ha! Living the dream – always wanted the three places we own now. Of course, growing up on Old Mission, it was amazing to have a place out there. It’s very difficult to make any money out there ever but it is magical being on Bowers Harbor and so crazy to have our childhood friends owning wineries out there as well.

We grew up with the Kroupas and Stegengas and love what they do, plus we are kinda partial to 2Lads and Brys [vineyards.] Man, are we lucky! Wouldn’t it be cool to have a Korean restaurant up there someday? Love Korean food!

In just 13 years, Magnum Hospitality opened up four hot spots in Northern Michigan: Boyne City’s and Traverse City’s Red Mesa Grill, Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen in Elk Rapids, and its most recent venture, Cafe Santé, again in Boyne City.

The partners – Mary Palmer, Fred Moore, and Jim Cartwright – are longtime friends who have littered their website with inside jokes and good-natured jabs.

The four restaurants reflect that friendship: Refreshing, creative, and definitely colorful.

What should people know about your restaurants?

That our concepts are fun, festive and casual. That the food is fresh, authentic, and made from scratch in-house using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. That our staffs genuinely embody the spirit of hospitality.

Any challenges?

Challenges are inherent with the seasonality of our business, primarily the large swing in staffing needs from summer to winter and the associated investments of time and dollars in training seasonal staff.

Also, rising costs of product and benefits must be confronted in a region where the amount of quality competition serves to keep a lid on price increases.

What is your diner profile?

They are very food savvy and appreciate food that is engaging, fresh and authentic – “out of the norm” instead of out of the can or freezer. They like to learn something when they dine. They want to know the “story” behind the dish, the ingredients, the restaurant, and its products.

Jim Cartwright, Mary Palmer and Fred Moore outside the TC Red Mesa.

Do you think the “foodie” label for this area is accurate?

We are fortunate to have a significant number of top-notch chefs and independent operators who have chosen to make this area home – from “hole-in-the-wall” owner/operators to larger, more upscale concepts.

There is a lot of pride in, and awareness of, local products and a lot of buy-in to the benefits of local sourcing. Tie in the burgeoning wine, beer, and distilled spirits industries; the growth of area agritourism; the quality delis, wine shops, cheese shops, spice and oil shops; and farm markets and, yes, the area seems to be pretty serious about its culinary scene.

But as far as the “foodie” label goes, that needs to come from without – if “foodies” make the area a destination, then the label fits.

What’s next?

We are continually upgrading our facilities. In the last year or so, we added retractable windows and heaters to the covered outdoor seating area at Santé, making it usable year-round. We also expanded, covered, and added a bar to the waiting area at Pearl’s.

In addition, we have been focusing on the guest experience for the past year through our “connect with the guest” program. We strive to have each of our service personnel take the time to make a personal connection with the guest: share a favorite beach, hike, or area attraction; identify tastes and interests; and be an ambassador for the restaurant and the area.

Any favorite restaurants?

Trattoria Stella, Red Ginger and Rick Bayless’ Fontera Grill in Chicago because of their staff training and attention to detail. Tuscan Bistro, Amical, FouFou, and Towne Plaza are comfortable “locals’ places” to dine with consistent, high-quality food and service and owner-operated.

wineguys restaurant group | 231.347.0101 | downtown petoskey