Culinary delights on the outskirts of town

People passing by this sign on M-22 often stop in to find out what’s in store at the Blue Slipper Tavern.

MANISTEE COUNTY — When it comes to dining there’s plenty of places to visit in the area, but some small-town eateries can be found along the outskirts of the main drag.

A new addition to the area, the Jolly Plate opened its doors in October at 2516 North U.S. Highway 31 in Scottville in Mason County. This tourist destination invites hungry patrons to enjoy a home-cooked lunch or breakfast, with dinner served on the weekends.

“Right now, we are serving breakfast and lunch,” said Kim Babcock, Jolly Plate owner. “Starting in May

The Jolly Plate opened its doors in October at 2516 North U.S. Highway 31 in Scottville. (Courtesy Photo)

on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights we are going to be opening for dinner until 8 p.m.”

A family-style restaurant, the Jolly Plate was named after Babcock’s parents, the Jolly family, whom once owned a restaurant. The diner’s menu features homemade corned beef hash, biscuits and sausage gravy and some say the coffee is the best around.

“We have giant cinnamon rolls and we serve it with cream cheese frosting,” Babcock said. “A lot of our stuff is from scratch, we do our own dressings and we get organic coffee.”

Patrons also can find baked goods, which Babcock’s daughter, Lauren, creates specially for those who stop by.

“She does a wonderful carrot cake which is a rustic crust, not a bakery cake,” she said. “We are not organic, but we do use free range eggs. I am working my way toward organic. We do have gluten free bread.”

The Jolly Plate’s menu will be revamped for the spring and summer, taking on some new flavors. So far, Babcock said the community has been supportive.

“We have regular customers and are starting to get tourists from out of state,” she said. “Being our first year, I do not know how it is going to be this summer but I expect it to be pretty busy.”

It might be a small-town diner, but Babcock said the crew truly enjoys putting in the hard work.

“We put a lot of love into it,” she said. “I have a wonderful crew here, the chef here is just wonderful. My daughter has blossomed as a baker, she really enjoys it.”

A HISTORIC ICON

Located toward the north-end of Manistee County, the Blue Slipper Tavern at 8058 First St. in Onekama — along the scenic route of M-22 — is a historic gem.

Park Gilmore and his wife Carolyn reopened the local icon in May 2018, which has stood tall at the entrance of Onekama since the late 1800s. In the past, it has had several incarnations from the Manistee Brewing Company, to the Blue Shoe Zoo tavern in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It was once a popular bistro, which closed nearly a decade ago.

Carolyn said the tavern has a unique menu, which alternates based on the food truck servicing for the day.

“All winter long we partnered with a truck called Southern Sin-Thesis,” she said. “They specialize in southern cooking, that includes smoked meats, fish, pulled pork, shrimp, alligator and Po Boy sandwiches.”

On weekends in the summertime, the southern-style menu will be featured. During weekdays, however,

The Blue Slipper Tavern is a popular stop along M-22 in Onekama.

Shandy’s Catering of Irons will take on bar-style food featuring burgers, steak, chicken strips and fried shrimp.

A popular occasion at the tavern is the Friday fish fry, which has a small twist.

“What sets us apart from others is that we have smelt, cat fish, jumbo shrimp and alligator on the menu,” Carolyn said. “The other thing people really like are the smoked wings.”

The tavern sports vintage decor, and is welcoming to anyone from families to tourists who might only be passing through.

“I think we have got a really good local client-base that comes regularly,” Carolyn said. “It’s kind of your first stop along M-22. We have a lot of people stopping by just because we have a really cool sign, and they want to check out the inside.”

When visitors stop by the Blue Slipper, Carolyn said each person is treated like family.

“It’s a friendly welcoming atmosphere, and when we have time we really enjoy getting to know the customers,” she said. “It’s a great place to come in and chill out, and have a chat with us or a drink.”

LOCAL TREASURES

Check out these local eateries on the outskirts of Manistee, Mason and Benzie counties:

• Rico’s Roadhouse at 900 Caberfae Highway in Manistee

• Grille 44 at 12951 Pleasanton Highway in Bear Lake

• Kaleva Tavern at 9289 Walta St. in Kaleva

• Bear Claw Cafe at 18571 Cadillac Highway in Copemish

• Doc’s Sauble River Inn at 9121 North U.S. 31 in Free Soil

• Traks Bar and Grill at 5073 High Bridge Road in Brethren

• The Big Apple at 17080 Northwood Highway in Arcadia

• The Laughing Horse Saloon at 15888 Lindy Road in Thompsonville

• Jodi’s Tangled Antler at 15015 U.S. 31 in Beulah

• Rosie’s Place at 9567 Chippewa Highway in Bear Lake

• Annie’s Kozy Kitchen at 16938 Caberfae Highway in Wellston

• Ma and Pa’s Gluten Free Cafe at 8852 North Quarterline Road in Free Soil

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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