Sweet’s Bar & Grill | Food

A sweet new addition in the spotlight
By Al Parker | September 25, 2021

While many restaurants are closing their doors for good due to the two disasters of a global pandemic combined with the difficulty of finding staff, it takes a confident enough owner to start a new restaurant.

Meet Bill Sweet, an outgoing guy who, along with his wife and entrepreneurial optimist partner, Toni, opened Sweet’s Bar & Grill in Honor this summer. The place? Inside the former Sleepy Bear Lounge, formerly Lumberjack Tavern, on Main Street.

“We opened on July 12,” he says. “It was after months of renovations and changes to make the place lighter, cooler and more welcoming. We did it ourselves, and it was a lot of hard work – a lot from 8 am to midnight. Our goal was to make this place as welcoming as possible, ”he says.

Consider the mission and vision of Sweets accomplished.

“People who have visited here before have been surprised,” he says. “They said ‘Oh, it’s so bright, and it smells so good.'”

Bill Sweet, who was born and raised in Empire and attended Glen Lake schools, entered the US Air Force after graduating. As a C-130 loader, he served at air bases across the country and around the world. After September 11, he joined Homeland Security and was sent overseas again, eventually visiting 61 countries between his two careers. Toni Sweet, originally from Saginaw, came to Traverse City to attend Northwestern Michigan College, where she graduated as a registered nurse in 1991 and began working as a registered nurse.

In 2013, Bill Sweet retired and returned to northern Michigan. Rather than relaxing, the two immediately got to work on the next phase of their lives. That year they opened Cobblestone Farms, a wedding venue in Kingsley that features a four-seater farmhouse built in 1914 with a huge back patio, barn, and plenty of perfect pastoral views. A few simple calculations inspired the Sweets to add another business to their local list.

“We were selling drinks and the wedding venue,” says the 50-year veteran. “And I thought instead of selling them one day a week, what about selling them seven days a week?” “

So Sweet started looking for a bar / restaurant to buy and found the Sleepy Bear.

“It’s a natural fit for me,” says the self-described “unpaid dishwasher” who admits to having absolutely no experience in the restaurant business. “We offer great service, great food and reasonable prices. I love talking to people and I want it to become a “Cheers” type place where everyone knows your name. “

There are still some remains of the sleeping bear. The collection of some 40 hand-signed drum cymbals by Norm Gibner remains a reminder of the live bands who performed there. In addition, a Sleepy Bear stained glass window brightly illuminates the room.

But the Sweets clearly make it their own. The restaurant’s walls – in classic tongue-and-groove pine – feature a veteran’s wall specially decorated to honor those who served and showcase artwork from the American Flag.

“I plan to put red, white and blue in this spot,” says Sweet.

An assortment of old license plates adds a quirky vibe to the bar, and Sweet is working to add a local touch to the decor with a growing display of local high school football helmets. To keep the place lively and attract locals and hunters, fishermen and tourists even when the cold temperatures set in, Sweet plans to offer plenty of nighttime lures: euchre, trivia, pool leagues, karaoke, live music. , and more. “We’ll have country, polka bands, rock – whatever people like,” he says.

When it comes to food, expect what Sweet calls “premium bar fare”: sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pizza, nachos, burritos, and quesadillas.

But dig a little deeper into the menu and you’ll find one of the tastiest Reuben sandwiches ($ 10) in the area. It features a big pile of tender corned beef over swirled rye. Next comes a crown of sweet but tasty sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a generous topping of Thousand Islands vinaigrette.

One of the more popular handhelds is the French Dip ($ 12): stacked beef topped with grilled mushrooms, onions, and Swiss cheese on a hoagie bun, with a savory side of au jus for dipping.

The best seller on the menu, according to manager Jen Plamondon, is the new and improved Wet Burrito ($ 12). It is made with seasoned ground beef or chicken, refried beans, red enchilada sauce, romaine lettuce, tomato, red onion, and black olives. It is served with rice and nacho chips.

“When we first opened we heard that sometimes when diners hit the bottom of the wet burrito, it was a bit dry,” says Sweet. “So we changed the recipe slightly, adding a layer of sauce to the bottom of the tortilla before stacking the other ingredients. Problem solved, and this is one of our best deals right now.

Other Mexican dishes include Nachos Supreme, a quesadilla, and a vegetarian quesadilla, each priced at $ 12.

In the family style that defined the way Sweets does business with customers and employees, each of Sweet’s eight different burgers is named after one of the grill’s friendly employees, such as “Jen’s Olive Delight” or “John’s. Hot As You can do it. ”Despite their differences in toppings, each burger begins with 1/3 of a pound of hand-patted beef that is cooked to perfection (otherwise requested) and delivered with lettuce, tomato , onion and a pickle on a brioche bun.

“Ann’s Steakhouse Burger is big, but if you’re really hungry, it’s a great burger,” says Sweet. The galette is topped with bacon, a slice of cheddar cheese and onion rings, then topped with barbecue sauce and Montreal steak seasoning.

Lighter appetites might be tempted by one of five salads, including a Michigan Summer Delight, consisting of spring lettuce, cucumber, carrot, red onion, sliced ​​apples, dried strawberries, dried cherries, pecans and feta cheese ($ 15).

There’s always a soup of the day ($ 4 a cup, $ 6 a bowl) and a tasty chili ($ 5 a cup, $ 7 a bowl), served with a cornbread muffin.

If you’re just looking for something to snack on while enjoying a drink, entrees include spinach and artichoke dip, fried pickle chips, mozzarella sticks, fries basket, garlic fries basket and parmesan cheese and chili cheese fries. But perhaps the most popular app is Steak Bites, a bunch of succulent beef nuggets sautéed in a house sauce and served with a ranch dressing.

Since this is a family-friendly place, there is a youth menu ($ 10 and under $ 7) that features approved standards for picky eaters: burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, mac and cheese. and chicken strips. Each dish includes fries, soft drinks or juice, apple slices and goldfish crackers.

Sweet hastens to congratulate his team of 15 people, in particular Plamondon, on their first successes. “We couldn’t have done anything without our friends and family,” he says. “We have a cook from the old restaurant and the others are all our friends. I really had no idea how great they would be.

Find Sweet’s Bar & Grill at 10919 Main St. in honor. It is open from 11 a.m. to midnight Monday to Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. For more information or for take out orders, call (231) 227-1148.


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