Tuesday, December 13, 2022

A Quality Lunch and a Bit of Exploration

After driving from the east coast of Michigan on Lake Huron, after a short drive we arrived at the first of several tourist towns on the State’s west coast along Lake Michigan.  Our destination was Petoskey Michigan although in fairness, a gathering of 3 towns along little Traverse Bay are close enough together that one could consider them a single destination.  In addition to Petoskey, Bay View and Harbor Springs complete the threesome.  

It was still rainy…the last of the day and a half of rain we encountered on our late summer road trip to Michigan and beyond.  It was time for lunch and I’d done a bit of research so we parked in downtown Petoskey and got out our umbrellas for a short walk.

Now known as City Park Grill, this is one of Petoskey’s oldest structures, with the original portion being completed in 1875.  Back in the early days, it was known as a McCarty Hall, a males-only billiard parlor that offered cigars and ‘intoxicating beverages’.  In 1888, dining and entertainment were added to serve an adjacent hotel and the building was renamed “The Annex”. 

When the building and its clientele was transformed into “The Annex” in 1888, a large patio was added to the east side of the restaurant and this 32 foot long solid mahogany bar was installed.  At that time, there were no windows and gas lighting was used to brighten up the room.

From the 1910s into the 1920s, author Ernest Hemingway made northern Michigan his summer home.  He loved to sit at the end of this big bar…actually the second seat from the end…and write down his ideas for short stories and books.

The next owner took over “The Annex” in 1897.  He expanded the restaurant, added a bowling alley in the basement and built the Grill CafĂ©.  The latter opened in July of 1910.  Laurie took the first photo of the dining room featuring yours truly looking at the menu.  We loved the feeling of the dining room bar area with all its wood, color, the tin ceiling and that gorgeous bar.  It actually felt like being in the days gone by…

I felt good about my choice for lunch even before we had lunch.  We both felt much happier when the first of 3 helpings of these beautiful hot rolls and soft butter was delivered by our very helpful and friendly waitress.

Have you noticed that very few restaurants automatically bring bread to the table even with entrees for evening meals?  Well, City Park Grill hasn’t served a single meal in more than twenty (20) years without first delivering the best biscuits in America to its diners.  In 2019, the digital magazine, “Only in Your State” (www.onlyinyourstate.com) named City Park’s “buttery, flaky, incredibly delicious…perfectly baked” biscuits as Number 1 in the United States.  We definitely concur…Just amazing!

We didn’t order anything too exotic for our lunch with the possible exception of my Blueberry Milk Shake.  It was excellent as well as different from the norm.

I decided on the Classic Hamburger with lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese. ($13.90) For my side I had a choice of BBQ chips or coleslaw.  It was a nice juicy burger, cooked perfectly to my liking…

I checked out the dinner entrees too.  They included a Filet Mignon, Strip Steak, Marinated Flank Steak, Jambalaya, 2 salmon offerings, Whitefish, a couple varieties of pasta, Chicken Cordon Bleu and a Smoked Pork Chop.

Laurie wasn’t too hungry…perhaps the first of her 3 fabulous fresh biscuits and butter might have had an impact…but in any case her luncheon choice surprised me.  City Park Grill’s soup specialty is their French Onion and that is Laurie’s favorite.  However, Laurie decided to opt for the Shellfish Chowder and it turned out to be a good choice. ($8.50 bowl) Not only was it filling, it was also loaded with tasty seafood.

City Park Grill is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week.  It is located at 432 East Lake Street in Petoskey Michigan.  Phone: 231-347-0101.  Website: https://www.cityparkgrill.com/.

Many old homes and commercial structures can be found throughout Petoskey.  The town is the county seat for Emmet County Michigan and it was founded ca. 1879.  The Petoskey Downtown Historic District includes 102 commercial properties and 2 institutional structures.  These buildings are located along a 10 block area…although my photos are limited to just East Lake Street.  Contributing structures for the historic district range in age from 1979 into the 1920s. 

Prosperity and preservation must primarily due to the tourist industry as the area has been a popular place to relax and enjoy life almost from the beginning.  Wealthier folks from the Detroit area, and to some degree, Chicago have flocked here for a long time.  The old Grand Rapids and Indiana railway tracks can still be seen in the downtown area and the area around them has been turned into a small park.

The large brick building to the left of the photo is the G&A Building and it is relatively new, having been built in 1907.  Its home to a book store and Roast and Toast, a casual restaurant operated by the same folks that own City Park Grill.  The building was the former home of the Petoskey Normal Business School.  I love the building in the middle.  Home to J.W. Shorter and Sons, selling antiques and gifts, it was built in 1881.

The one-story store at the right of the photo is home to Linda Michael’s (Formerly Little Traverse Jewelers).  The owners make jewelry from stones from Michigan set in silver or gold.  The stones include Lake Superior Agate, Fordite, Kona Dolomite, Greenstone, Leland Blue, Pudding Stone and of course, Petoskey Stones. 

FYI, a Petoskey stone is a rock and a fossil.  It’s composed of fossilized rugose coral.  Basically, there are pieces of a coral reef that was originally deposited during the Devonian period…millions of years ago.  Using lapidary techniques, the distinctive mottled pattern of the six-sided coral fossils emerge.  They are made into decorative items or, in this instance, a gemstone.

Grandpa Shorter’s Gifts was Petoskey’s original souvenir/gift store.  This family owned business was opened in 1946.  It is an historical site dating from 1876.  The historic downtown area is a shopper's dream...

Petoskey has a population of about 5,900 residents and has been fairly stable over recent years.  The name Petoskey is said to mean “where the light shines through the clouds” in the language of the Odawa Native People.  After the 1836 Treaty of Washington when representatives of the Ottawa and Chippewa nations of Native Americans ceded about 37% of what is now Michigan, Odawa Chief Ignatius Petosega wisely purchased lands in this area.  His father was a French Canadian fur trader and his mother was Odawa.  Today, the Little Traverse Bay Band of Native Americans has 13 scattered reservation areas in and around Petoskey.  They own and operate a casino in town.  Check it out at https://odawacasino.com/.

The Little Traverse Historical Museum is housed in the former Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Station located in Petoskey’s Pioneer Park.  This Victorian Shingle style depot, listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1970, was built in 1892.  To learn about the museum, go to Little Traverse Historical Museum - Home (petoskeymuseum.org).

The Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad started service to Petoskey in 1874.  A second railroad, the Chicago and West Michigan Railway purchased this land on the shore of Little Traverse Bay to build their depot.  In 1899, the Chicago and West Michigan Railway and this station were absorbed into the Pere Marquette Railway.  The Pere Marquette and its successor, the Chesapeake and Ohio ran the “Resort Special” night train from Chicago.  This depot continued to serve passengers until the 1950s when it was abandoned...although passenger trains served the town until ca. 1963.

FYI, well known personalities and celebrities from Petoskey and Emmet County include: Alan Hewitt, keyboardist with Moody Blues and Earth, Wind and Fire; Mark Farner, a member of Grand Funk Railroad; actor Megan Boone, best known for her recent leading role in TV’s “Blacklist” and: Bruce Catton, a historian and journalist who is best known for his books on the American Civil War.

In 1899, shortly after Petoskey was incorporated as a city, Dr. Norman J. Perry built the Perry Hotel after giving up his dental practice after one of his patients had died from a multiple tooth extraction.  Dr. Perry continued to operate the hotel until 1919 when he sold it to 2 other doctors.  One of the new owner’s nephew managed the hotel for over 40 years.  Under his direction, the Perry Hotel became the place to be…and it was expanded, adding the four-story, 46 room wing in 1926.

Stafford’s Hospitality purchased the Perry Hotel in 1989 and extensive interior and exterior restoration has been completed.  Of the 21 hotels in operation in 1900 and, after 122 years, the Perry Hotel is the only one still operating today.  The hotel feature 75 guest rooms, the H.O. Rose dining room, the Noggin Room and, in the summer months, the Rose Garden Veranda Restaurant.  To learn more about this historic hotel, its accommodations and dining opportunities, you can go to https://www.theperryhotel.com/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for continuing to follow us on our late summer road trip!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. That Petoskey stone / gemstone looks really beautiful. Is it a a necklace pendant? I would love to try that chowder...and a juicy fatty steak from their menu!

  2. I've found a way to indulge in all your post's details...I read about one stop, then go do other things, and come back and read further a few minutes later. Ah, it works for me!

  3. I wish we had done more than drive thru Petoskey when up that way. Laurie's soup looks like a recipe I would love to have.

  4. Petoskey looks just like the type of city we would enjoy exploring, perhaps on a future cross country drive.