COMSTOCK PARK, MI – In case you stay within the space or go to often, the scenic Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park in West Michigan has turn into a favourite scorching spot, particularly all through the pandemic.
The place else are you able to socially distance whereas happening a stroll, run or bike experience?
As a part of our seek for Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining, we couldn’t assist however discover that a number of of our nominees had been really proper on the White Pine Path, and others just some hundred ft away.
Nestled alongside the attractive Grand River in Comstock Park, close to the newly renamed LMCU Ballpark and residential of the West Michigan Whitecaps, the White Pine Path stretches 92 miles from right here to Cadillac.
Dave Ringler, the Director of Happiness on the Cedar Springs Brewing Company in Cedar Springs, stated having his brewery subsequent to the path means a gentle stream of consumers all through the summer time, fall and winter seasons.
Even through the current indoor eating shutdown, he stated a gaggle of regulars cease in on Thursdays to take pleasure in his outside Wintergarten patio, which permits prospects to have a pint and seize lunch, dinner or their well-known pretzel in a really cozy house. He calls them the “Thursday Night time Chill Crew.”
“They’re hardy,” Ringler stated. “They bundle up and make slightly little bit of deal out of it. It’s not a ton of individuals, however they’ve been doing this for the reason that shutdown began.”
“By and enormous, Michiganders are fairly frickin’ cool,” he added.
What eating places are on the White Pine Path, and who’s providing outside eating?
Observe our journey from Comstock Park to Cedar Springs.
10 nice Outside Eating spots alongside the White Pine Path.
1. Vitale’s of Comstock Park
3868 W. River Drive NE, Comstock Park, MI 49321
Vitale’s of Comstock Park
Identified for its busy patio, particularly through the summer time and fall months, the house owners of the favored sports activities bar/household restaurant with a number of huge display screen TVs determined to put money into making their outside patio house slightly extra cozy with a number of extra heaters. Group members even donated some heaters. Though although it might appear to be enclosed, the patio’s design options a number of giant home windows that open up. In the course of the second shutdown, which started on Nov. 18, the patio stored busy serving their signature pizzas, sub sandwiches, tasty pastas, burgers, craft beer and people tasty Bloody Marys. (Vitale’s was a cease on our seek for Michigan’s Greatest Bloody Mary in 2016.) Together with their widespread pizza supply service, they stored busy any day of the week. When the climate received colder, prospects even waited outside close to a small fireplace pit till house opened up on the patio. When the well being division order allowed indoor eating at 25 p.c capability on Feb. 1, house owners determined to reduce on the patio. “We might return to outside eating after we hear from our Governor on February twenty first,” stated Kerri Vitale, who co-owns the restaurant with husband, Agostino. “If she retains us at 25 p.c we are going to return to outside eating on the patio and maintain 25% inside.” Vitale’s is situated at starting of the White Pine Path. There may be parking for the path in a separate lot, however the Vitale’s parking zone butts in opposition to that lot.
2. Elk Brewing
400 Dodge St. NE, Comstock Park, MI 49321
Solely open since 2016, Elk Brewery has generated a loyal following for its number of beer types, first rate meals menu and laid again ambiance. You possibly can even hire out the patio for a birthday celebration or occasion, pre-pandemic, after all. At present, that patio has turn into a scorching spot. Actually. Clients can sit on snug lounge furnishings that’s nicely heated from above or at a number of tables, that are additionally comfortably heated. There may be one lonely desk the place you courageous the weather. Just lately they added two ice shanty tents, with two extra on the way in which, stated common supervisor Zak Kozlowski, who oversees the Comstock Park location and unique location at 700 Rich St. SE in Grand Rapids. “As quickly as they arrive in we could have them up,” he stated. Though they’re situated throughout the very busy West River Drive, there’s a crosswalk and lightweight on the ballpark entrance, which permits bikers and walkers to cross the road. It’s just a few steps to the brewery. “Bikers come over on a regular basis,” Kozlowski stated. The shanties and outside tables are first come, first served. The tents, that are toasty heat with a heater, are restricted to 1 1/2 hours and restricted to 4 individuals. There is no such thing as a payment. The menu consists of burgers and fries, in addition to Elk Pups. In the summertime months you’ll be able to take pleasure in their Pronto Pups meals truck. As for beer, prospects love their PB & J’ale’y amber ale.
3. Bier Distillery
5295 W. River Drive NE, Comstock Park, MI 49321
Joel Bier is an innovator. He doesn’t relaxation on his laurels. He strives daily to outlive and contribute to Michigan’s rising distilling scene. Since opening in 2016, this quiet and unassuming house alongside West River Drive is perhaps simple to overlook alongside the various manufacturing companies. (It’s 1.3 miles from Elk Brewing, and a couple of.3 miles from Vitale’s.) When you step inside, Bier will showcase his spirits, cocktails, beers and Dutch menu. Additionally they do burgers. “With out the meals we might have been in quite a lot of hassle,” he stated. Though you’ll discover just a few outside tables within the entrance of the constructing, his important outside eating space is within the again, which you will need to entry by strolling by the entrance doorways and up the steps. First, you’ll be able to play a enjoyable “Guess Your Temperature” sport to win a shot glass. As soon as exterior you will note the shelters he has constructed over seven picnic tables, separated by onerous plastic and heated by vertical stands and desk high heaters. They’re subsequent to a particular tank he bought at first of the pandemic to make hand sanitizer. They do restricted reservations for just a few of the tables, the remaining are for stroll ins, Bier stated. They’ve a capability of 40 on the patio. “We’ve been fairly fortunate as a result of we’re not only a restaurant, we’re a producing distillery, too,” stated Bier, who stated early within the pandemic they had been promoting “1000’s of gallons” of hand sanitizer. Though the White Pine Path is throughout the road, he stated bikers appear to search out their method to his distillery. “We get lots of people in right here, which is a shock since crossing West River Drive is just not for the faint of coronary heart,” Bier stated. “However you are able to do it.”
4. Pictures on the River
5760 W. River Drive NE, Belmont, MI 49306
Pictures on the River
Simply down the highway from Elk Brewing and Bier Distillery is Pictures on the River, which is situated solely 2.5 miles from the doorway of the newly renamed LMCU Ballpark, house of the West Michigan Whitecaps. It IS proper on the White Pine Path, so there isn’t any must cross the road. Actually, you’ll be able to see a ravishing signal for the path on a wood bridge overpass close to the doorway to Pictures, previously the Westwood Ranch. Identified for its adjoining outside volleyball pits and softball fields, and situated subsequent to the Grand River, the restaurant additionally has an unexpectedly good menu. The highest promoting objects embody ribs, burgers, pizza, “and superior burritos,” stated supervisor Dave Hollern. “We have now a wide selection. Mainly, one thing for everybody. We actually have a good salad menu.” Hollern stated they not too long ago shut down their outside tent, however their two igloos are busy and promote out on the weekends. Visitor can reserve them for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Open six days every week; closed on Sundays.
5. Third Nature Brewing Firm
7733 Childsdale Ave. NE, Rockford, MI 49341
Third Nature Brewing Firm
Positioned about 4 miles from Pictures on the River, and proper on the White Pine Path, is Third Nature Brewing Firm. Opening in late 2019, brothers Chad and Troy Zitzelsberger envisioned it to be West Michigan’s model of Hop Lot Brewing in Suttons Bay, which is thought for its outside house, fireplace pits and pure magnificence. That technique has paid off as their “Igbrews” and Biergarten have turn into a scorching spot this winter. The trail main into the Biergarten from the White Pine Path “greets you with overhead cafe lights, our glowing Igbrews and the heat of our fireplace pits,” stated Chad’s spouse, Hayley. “We have now been so grateful for our little Biergarten haven. It’s allowed us to maintain serving you beer, meals and a protected place to come back and luxuriate in a while out of the home.” After opening the Igloos on Dec. 1, they added two extra Igloos, put platforms beneath every one, added a 3rd wooden burning fireplace pit, coated their pergola and upgraded their fireplace pit chairs. Additionally they modified service to be by reservation solely and to have contactless service. Their fireplace pits and outside eating are all open seating. The Igloo reservations are online and secured with a $50 deposit, which features a $10 rental payment that helps cleansing and upkeep prices. A $40 refund goes again in your card. Reservations are for 90 minutes. In style Meals/Beer Objects: The 3N Beer Cheese Pretzel is a high vendor – a big delicate and salty pretzel with their home made heat beer cheese, paired with a pint of White Pine Pilsner. Additionally, the Pub Burger and 3NEIPA is a best choice for purchasers. 3NEIPA was one in every of my High 10 picks for Beer of the Yr in 2020.
6. RORA – Rockford Outside Refreshment Space
RORA – Rockford Outside Refreshment Space
The RORA district in downtown Rockford opened on Dec. 17, and the group is loving it, stated Kris Murphy, deputy clerk/communications coordinator for the town of Rockford. It encompasses many of the downtown space the place guests can seize takeout from any of the downtown eating places and alcoholic drinks in authorised cups from taking part eating places and carry them exterior anyplace within the RORA district. Principal Road is closed off to site visitors the place donated picnic tables, fireplace tables and fireplace pits are ready for individuals to take pleasure in. “Up to now it’s been very profitable, our downtown companies have seen a rise in enterprise in comparison with earlier than we had the RORA and guests appear to essentially take pleasure in it. We’ve had quite a lot of optimistic suggestions,” Murphy stated. “We do ask that individuals observe social distancing and when they’re unable to distance put on a masks.” They plan to maintain it open till the top of March. The RORA is open from Midday-10 p.m., seven days every week. The hearth pits are lit at 2 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends. The eating places taking part: 1. The Nook Bar 2. Rockford Brewing Firm 3. Rogue River Tavern 4. Uccello’s Ristorante 5. Grill One Eleven 6. Marinades 7. Cinco de Mayo 8. Kayla Rae Cellars 9. Rockford Lanes.
7. Rockford Brewing Firm
12 E. Bridge St. NE, Rockford, MI 49341
Rockford Brewing Firm
One in all our High 12 picks for Michigan’s Best Wings, RBC is correct on the White Pine Path. Actually. A motorcycle rack is on one aspect of the path, and the brewery’s patio is on the opposite aspect. It’s an ideal location, stated co-owner Seth Rivard, who opened the brewery along with his buddy Jeff Sheehan in 2011. They’re a part of the RORA district and solely a two-minute stroll to Principal Road. Being on the White Pine Path “has been wonderful” for its excessive site visitors, he stated. “It brings in the perfect individuals, particularly in the summertime. We couldn’t ask for a greater location.” Rivard stated they’re one in every of two breweries within the state situated on a state park. “We really pay hire to the DNR for our outside seating on the White Pine Path,” he stated. With the long-lasting Rogue River Dam situated kitty nook from the brewery, it’s additionally an ideal spot to take pleasure in a brew and spend time with mates. Close by you will see one other fireplace pit maintained by the town in Overlook Park. In style meals at RBC: Burgers, Malph’s Pizza and wings, after all. “However persons are additionally hooked on our fried cheese curds,” Rivard stated. “Our vegan choices additionally do very well.” The Hoplust IPA and Rogue River Brown are their two top-selling beers, with State Huge, Bloodlust Blood Orange IPA and Malph’s Premium Beer (low ABV) rising in recognition. As for outside eating, it’s first come, first serve on the patio. No reservations. No igloos. They don’t service on the market both. “Individuals can order inside or from their telephones. They simply seize what is out there,” Rivard stated.
8. The Nook Bar
31 N. Principal St., Rockford, MI 49341
The Nook Bar
It’s all in regards to the Canine Sheds on the iconic Nook Bar in downtown Rockford. Positioned within the coronary heart of RORA, diners could make a reservation on-line or enroll on the bar if there’s availability. On the day we stopped, a mom and daughter had been out in town with their big Schnauzer canine, Piper. “It was really easy to make the reservation,” stated Sarah Mertel, who was along with her daughter Allie. “Sure, after all I’d do it once more. We had been very snug.” You order all the pieces from the tent space. There is no such thing as a direct contact. And a crew comes out to wash up instantly when friends go away the realm. Price is $40 minimal spend, which you get again from a $50 deposit. Tents are restricted to 6 individuals. All occupants should reside collectively. Visitors can have as much as 75 minutes. After all, everybody needs the well-known Nook Bar chili canine. In case you can eat 12 coney canine in lower than 4 hours you get your title on the wall. Based in 1933, Nook Bar was on our seek for Michigan’s Most Iconic Restaurant in 2019.
9. St. Julian Vineyard/Flo’s Wooden Fired Pizza
4425 14 Mile Street NE, Rockford, MI 49341
St. Julian Vineyard/Flo’s Wooden Fired Pizza
As you head north on the White Pine Path, about 5 miles from The Nook Bar, you run into one of many space’s latest locations: The pizza-wine combo of St. Julian Vineyard and Flo’s Wooden Fired Pizzeria. The outside eating space is restricted. Every place has an out of doors patio. The Flo’s aspect has two heaters and two fireplace pits. Eating is out there for many who wish to courageous the weather. And folks have been identified to bundle up and sip a glass of wine on the St. Julian aspect.
10. Cedar Springs Brewing Firm
95 N. Principal St. NE, Cedar Springs, MI 49319
Cedar Springs Brewing Firm
Having fun with the White Pine Path and sipping on a a beer through the winter is nothing new for brewery proprietor Dave Ringler. This time of yr he’s usually companions with Rockford Brewing Firm on an Arctic Cruise as Fats Tire bikes make the almost 8-mile trek between the 2 spots proper on the path. They often have a giant oyster occasion in Cedar Springs. “After all we didn’t do it this yr due to Covid,” Ringler stated. “However we get bike riders just about daily, even through the winter time. Clearly this time of the yr is lower than the summer time.” Being simply steps away from the path, which additionally has its personal parking zone, means a busy site visitors footprint. It permits them to create new occasions, similar to this yr’s Cedar Blitz gravel race with Rogue River Promotions on Might 22. It should embody a beer tent and Style of Cedar Springs. As for his or her outside eating space, at first look it might appear to be an indoor construction. However Ringler stated he went by all of the regulatory companies to arrange their Wintergarten space with windbreaker partitions, “and the roof has airflow,” he stated. “You possibly can even really feel the breeze….that is exterior. It permits us, even after we’re shutdown, to make use of this house safely.” With plexiglass boundaries on every picnic desk, the house permits for near 40 prospects. When the climate was hotter in addition they arrange a Bierdock subsequent to the patio with tower heaters. It’s been successful, particularly while you think about his award-winning German beers, in addition to nice fried rooster, spatzle mac and cheese, pretzel and attractive Flannel Fries (attempt them sloppy!)
The seek for Michigan’s Greatest Outside Eating is sponsored partly by Warm Fitness.
Extra pictures from Rockford by MLive’s Hope Davison.
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