As you enter this coffee house the immediate sensation I received was one of family, and I was so right! The owner, Serena, was not available but her sister was covering for her. The father actually owns this small strip mall, and the art that embraces you from the crates of paintings for sale to the gallery on the walls all come from the sister’s business next door which is a Paint and Sip run by his other daughter Frances.
Ted And Yili Bonarski are the Heads and Heart of this family. Ted runs a financial business in the building since 2005 and when the real estate crashed, it created a foreclosure situation on the building he was in. He was able to establish ownership by 2011. The cafe that was here prior was poorly managed and quickly closed upon his ownership. His daughter Serena, who used to work at the previous cafe, started running Cafe Boba, and by taking the experience she had, she resurrected it in her own style. By working with the fitness center next door, they are consistently creating healthier smoothies that even kids will drink! For those of you who do not know what a boba is, it is a tranluscent cassova starch ball otherwise known as tapioca, and they are made here and served fresh daily. I was offered the Quest fitness Smoothie, their newest creation, and it was really hard to believe this was healthy!! The powerful banana covers the avocado and spinach well. A great quest to partake in for sure! Their simplified menu has something for everyone: soup, salads, sushi, snacks, coffee, tea and smoothies.
With plenty of places to plug in, and seating from couches to high top tables, you never run short of comfort or power supplies for work, personal, or school projects, and the background music compliments the creative calm atmosphere. Look out gamers, Friday nights they have a large mounted TV gamestation for battles.
I have to say Serena has done her father proud in the space she has established here for the community. If the coffee house cafe style is not what your into, they always have the Paint and Sip next Door, or the fitness center/gym to the right
As a coffee mandated hippie, I am pretty basic. So when I entered Fluid Coffee, I was a little overwhelmed by the sophistication of the connoisseurs menu. I came into 518 Franklin Street with a neighbor friend of mine. She is as illiterate in the coffee terminology as am I, but the barista and coordinator of the Michigan City location, Leanna, showed extreme professionalism, confidence, and patience when describing the differences in almost everything on the menu.
I love the artistic vibe and framed articled biography located by one of the displayed accomplishments. It has a warm relaxing hip atmosphere with welcoming faces from the staff.
The Plain Jane that I am, ordered a “drip coffee”, and my neighbor decided on the Vanilla Latte. The skull shaped spoon to stir the latte with was the perfect touch to integrate the reverent music which set a mood of accomplished independent defiance: the humanity of it all!!
I admired the options for privacy and group meeting areas. With a private cupping room available for reservations and will have coffee educational tastings, “like a wine tasting but for coffee,” according to Leanna. The next one scheduled for Michigan City is March 14, and only cost $10. Samples I look forward to this as I am coffee terminologically challenged!!!!
Our barista for the day Nick, was delicate in his artistry of crafting the perfect latte for my neighbor complete with a feather design on the top: 13 years experience has served him well in establishing his craft, and it shows in his passion for appreciation of his customers’ approval. Originally from here, he improved his skill in Bloomington, IN for 10 years and recently moved back two years ago. We are privileged in having his talents here in support of our community.
Leanna comes from the Ukraine and adopted into the US in 2007, successfully went to Chesterton High School, lived in Valparaiso, and recently chose Michigan City as her location to learn about the third wave coffee shop way. She is excited about the upcoming cupping room tasting March 14th, where they share information about the direct relations of this coffee shop and how it’s beneficial for the farmers related to which they serve.
Overall, I think this is going to be a great place for community growth,education, and an artistic establishment. Join them in thier waiting gallery.
See how they roast the beans in their clean production back room.
This little unkranian village cafe has the meraki vibe as you enter off the street: laid back with the aroma of passion and epic food. The staff genuinely is there because they enjoy what they do, the company of their co-workers, and it shows in their flow from service to stocking: synchronicity is present.
As for the food, all I can say is, wow! I ordered a staple of any breakfast joint: Eggs Benedict. The layers of flavor burst on your taste buds like the yolk does to your fork. Arugula, grilled slices of ham, and pimento cheese smothered with a Hollandaise Sauce that brings this classic to a new level of life. My taste buds were dancing to the rhythm of my chew. The goodness dissipated in a swallow, just to be followed by another explosion of what they call mashbrown.
Every meal should be followed by dessert and their meals are no exception. The AM Bread is served warm with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, like a coffee cake french toast, followed with a sip of their signature Dark Matters Coffee, and the soul is satisfied and ready to take on the challenges of the day. It is a higher price than I would normally spend for breakfast, but worth every penny. This place was a real treat !!
Street art graffiti invites you to travel into the rabbit hole and the service, food, laughter and giant Jenga on every table keeps you there.
Six TV screens internally circle the encompassing bar to keep the sports enthusiast satisfied from every angle, while music spirals from one genre to the next with a flow that just keeps the good times rolling. As you walk in, you are greeted by the invitation to play rabbit pong; calling you to drop the days issues at the door and embrace your “you-time”.
Now, the man with the plan to set you on your travels for your your time here is Camron. He has been at this location for 10 years, and basically is contracted with the building because of his dedication to a good time, good food and good service. He is a bartender, manager and community icon. One has to be to work and/or manage this location thru 4 owners. The Current Owner is Chris Ryan, a Chicago Icon of his own. Several long-standing successful bars including The Original Mother’s can be contributed to his involvement. His new investment: The Rabbit Hole, has the ambiance of a local watering pub where friends and neighbors gather to enjoy a moment in life together. I just fell in love with this family style community environment. The bouncer doubles as a game show host to the masses fora game of Hangman as well as greeting everyone and inviting each guest to enjoy a great time. Upon witnessing his talents, local Katie Umph guessed this puzzle in an impressive time with only 2 letters…how much fun can you have at a neighborhood hangout?
The music that plays in the background is produced by a DJ named Milkman Matt, who milks the artful tastes from the visiting clientele and feeds the souls of the room with a celebration of style that satisfies everyone. If you are in Chicago and want to embrace the excitement of recaptured youth Chicago style, this is a great place to visit!
I had the privilege to meet and amazing local man who has found a way to turn wasteful spillage from a blast furnace into significant art sculptures. His name Is Justin Sule and he is a 3rd generation steel mill worker who has a family history of about 100 years in the industry. He has been working on the blast furnace for 8 years and has a unique eye for opportunity. The above original can be seen anchored to the wall at Zorn Brewery here in Michigan City, IN. Hopefully, he will be also participating in the First Friday Art Walk displaying his artwork for sale. I will keep you all posted !
In short, sometimes the blast furnace acts like a woman with a mind of her own, and when she has an emotional outburst, she splashes molten iron out of the trough and makes a mess of things. When this happens impurities can become imbedded into the cooling splatter and renders it useless. But, with special approval, Justin has been able to take these solid iron quagmires and capture his creative talent turning it into amazing sculptures. It is a long process for each piece to remove the slag, coal, and other impurities with hand grinding and polishing the finished piece by buffing the anomaly into imaginary perfection.
He is married and has full support of his wife but pointed out that his pieces are fairly large and she doesn’t feel it contributes to the modern farm decor she has worked to establish in their home, and this is more an industrial abstract art. That’s ok, she thinks they are an ideal asset to any gallery, business, or man cave setting.
Tragically, his garage caught fire and he lost most of his collection recently, and all his dedicated hard work. No worries he is currently working an a new piece despite the setback, and will be rebuilding his collection to share with the world. I will be excited to see the end product from this rough spoilage. I will update this post with the after picture when it is complete: Here is the rough stuff he is starting out with, or you can find him on instagram: @theironcain.
During my interview with him I found out this is not the only talent he possesses. He is also deemed a Wild Mushroom Identification Expert and goes by the name: @Im_a_fungi_mushrooms on instagram and has a great business offering multiple types of mushrooms including shiitake and oyster – to name a few- for local restaurants and personal purchase: He also offers logs that are infused with spores that you can obtain to start growing your own supply. This is a guy worth taking the time to know and I felt privileged to find this diamond in the rough in our community. I am looking forward to following his progress to success and sharing it with my readers!!
Driving by Enchanted Forest two lovers giggled about the word enchanted; the unknown magic this meaningful word represented; not knowing the impact it would make on them one day in their future. When Brett Ritchie decided to start a limousine business, he consulted with his wife, Tara, for the perfect name. Still in love with each other, and wanting to provide the magical love they share with their clients, Tara suggested Enchanted There was no other choice for the name. With a Passenger van hold up to 15 for tours in and about town larger groups, and 2 limos both are stretch with one a super stretch.
Imagine a few couples getting together, or the gal pals congregating for an afternoon or evening of travel, fun, and great company. The wine tours offer just that. Based on time frame, 4-6 hours will give you 3-4 winery’s for a tour. This is one of their specialties and after this quarantine, the local wineries are going to need our support as much as we need the social gatherings and fun!
Airport runs, wine tours , weddings bachelor parties, dinner engagements, concerts, sports events are their normal clients. “I have learned a lot, but there is always more to learn…Bigger companies just don’t offer the personal experiences that we offer,” he says. Every car is detailed to perfection, stocked with personal touches , and customized for the client.
Angelica Bowen is the face of this company and the promoter that everyone sees. She is 1 of 3 drivers, and handles most of the paperwork, but her passion is to embrace the service she provides for wine tour groups.
Every year they raise donations and give kids for rides with Santa in the limo around Washington Park and tour the lighted wonderland. They even surprised a family who fell on difficult times despite working so hard, and turned around their Christmas. This kind of personal involvement and commitment to the community that is truly uplifting.
A pick up from South Bend airport was Grete Eliassen and she was kicking around the idea about making a podcast regarding skiing and Brett’s story of how this company started was the inspiration for her to start it. She reached out to him to invited him to her first release as a thank you for the inspiration. She even signed a red bull can (her sponsor) for his personal wall of Fame.
So, when this quarantine is lifted and we can start social activities and you’re thinking of what to do with your friends, think about the winery tours or even having a night of dinner and drinks, live it up, go in style, and leave the driving to Enchanted Limousine and Transport. I’m sure we will all want to feel a little enchanted!
This place displays the essence of community and artistic passion here in Michigan City. Like the Cheers version of a restaurant – where everyone knows your name, a train tours the restaurant from the ceiling, cross table-talking, cell phones down, great food and clean restrooms.
They even have a separate room for business meetings, study groups: privacy. I love meeting people, or just sitting in the back and writing here! Friendly servers, free-flowing coffee, casual greetings – like a shout out from the other end of the room. It has an energetic aura of history and nostalgia that screams community.
This is the Philly Steak Omelette and it is as delicious as it looks. Mouth-watering, seasoned, tender strips of steak, with sauteed green peppers and onions, coagulated with cheese and surrounded by light fluffy eggs, served with toast, or pancake, and american fries or hash browns is a meal that sends a hungry man to work happy and satisfied.
This is the B & G omelette and it is just oozing with flavorful sausage gravy inside and out. The omelette blankets the fresh biscuit and is topped with cheddar cheese, served with hash browns or american fries. A breakfast lovers favorite!
Owners Donna Eaton-Howard and husband, Mike Howard have been the owners for about 15 years and was formerly known as Ceno’s On the Square, which was owned by her sisters. Donna stated, “I am blessed with the people she has met in the community and being a witness to their evolutionary life changes… I have seen some grow and marry and have kids, they go to College, and they always come to share their stories with me”. Mike also chimed in by sharing that even their grand kids now take part in working at the diner. The passing on of family traditions and keeping the culture of community alive here is a definite part of their structure.
They will continue to have 2 soups daily with seasonal specials or requested soups on hand. They also added the Cedar Sub Shop to their business in 2009, and was one of their favorite accomplishments. If you come to Michigan City, make it to the station on time! This place truly is a landmark and offers the heart of our community to all those who visit.
As a young child, I had long flowing hair that I could sit on with the hopes of reaching Chrystal Gayle length. However during my first grade year of schooling, the boys were teasing me and tying my up with my hair. I came home, ran to my room and cried. My loving and supportive mother inquired about my distress, and I told her what happened: in haste I cursed long hair and insisted I wanted a short haircut. Again supportive, she took me over to a local beauty school and again in haste I defended a shorter style.
The poor girl who cut my hair might have gave it up after I saw my reflection of what she had done, screamed a blood-curdling scream of disappointment, and ran out to hide in the car. She had given me a “pixie cut” which is about 2 inches long all around. Now, keep in mind, I was 7, over-dramatic, angry and hysterical. Short hair, to me, would have been to the middle of my back! I never let anyone, even my best friend who went and graduated from cosmotology school, ever, cut my hair again. I was also a real to life tomboy, and wasn’t ever really into the girly thing. Imagine my surprise when my neighbor convinced me to go to this salon and just give it a chance.
The 50’s themed Barber and Salon Shop has that Happy Days vibe brings back a simpler time when smiles were genuine and sincerity was the norm. I embraced my inner woman and embarked on this journey without realizing I was about to accomplish a rite of passage at the age of 51.
Bobbi Piecuch has 23 years experience with 12 years as a Redken Stage Artist – showing new styles on stage, traveling from tradeshow to tradeshow then changed directions and went to work at a barber shop with a friend while earning a business degree. She is the owner of Thompsons Meets Zentress, which was originally established as just Thompsons Barber Shop and has been in MC since 1967. When the Thompsons (Roy and Jim) passed away, one of their daughters closed the shop. Bobbi seized the moment to revive the location: She would help open the shop and ran the business for a year under the same name. In honor of the former owner, she fused her ambition and the business became Thompsons Meets Zentress and has been thriving there for 5 years now. She has 2 other girls working in the salon with her, all three have experience in barber services for men and fabulous salon talents for women and the three have been friends throughout their careers.
They offer services for women and men including, coloring, hair cutting, chemical services (perms), facial waxing, eyelash lift and tint, and hair styling , of course. They also includes shaving on the back of neck… sorry guys no facial shaves.
As the day started and their schedules filled with a steady flow of traffic, the conversations were personal, fun and uplifting.
Bobbi loves to do everything, but her passion for this form of artwork comes from the satisfaction her clients experience as their self-esteem rises and self-worth soars. As she says, ” Good vibes” describe her attitude. Clients travel from Kouts and North Judson just to have her expertise and she even has an actor from Chicago Fire as a regular client for the last 15 years. She has the style!! There was a lull in activity, and I jumped at the chance to have my hair cut. She was so informative, explaining my hair type, how to treat it, how to maintain it, what type of products work best (without being pushy of her own products) , and most importantly how to enjoy it. I really learned quite a bit about hair care, a field in which I honestly knew I lack as a woman.
Carrie has a cheerful joyous disposition and her smile is contagious. She has 34 years of experience between men’s and women’s services. She loves the simplicity of sharing her artistic qualities, “…of life-long connection with clients…making them look and feel good”. She shared with me the story of how her grandson came in for a haircut and she jokingly informed him that the portrait of Marilyn Monroe was her when she was younger. A few weeks later, he was walking in a store with his mom and avidly insisted that a photograph of Marilyn was his grandma!! Ya gotta love it!!!
Angie has been here for over 2 years with over 25 years experience. Loves it all because everyday is something different. She enjoys the specialty colorings and the pure artistry of her career. “She makes me look beautiful, and feel beautiful… she’s the best!!”, says Willette Benning, one her clients stated. After receiving a trim and styling. The smile in her heart as she spoke, said it all.
I am pretty amazed at how something as simple as a haircut, conversation, and a great stylist can change one’s confidence as a woman. It’s the act of servitude with a great attitude that feeds the soul with pampering appreciation for who you are. I feel like I’m now part of this rite of passage, this educational journey of self-love, part of this womens community. You might be surprised at what your missing out on, if you have never gone to a true neighborhood salon! Are you a Thompson man? Or a Zentress woman?
Oh the luck of the Irish is upon us! As I have been progressing to support our local merchant on social media I stumbled upon a business with the same message and spirit.
Bernadette Gibson originates to us from an Irish family and supplements her jewelry with a Celtic twist: not only in design but rich in passion and meaning. As a successful jeweler from Chicago’s Jewelers row at 9 N Wabash, for 30 years, we are privileged to have her talents here in Michigan City for the last 3 years! I didn’t even know!
She has recently relocated to our community and should be considered the jewel of the town with her shop adorned with beautiful rings, bracelets, and pendants, all custom made and unique. She can customize any kind of design you wish and does so with a joyous disposition.
This Celtic pendant is a two tone 14 kt two-tone white gold t triple spiral Scottish Thistle Medallion. This piece, she said modestly, has a special place in her heart. The design means, “All of the Energy you give out to the world comes back to you…swirling are 3 spirals of constant forward motion,” she says. The three arms of the t have various forms of meanings but for her it was the relationship of mind-body-spirit, specifically: courage, strength, and love: All in constant harmony and movement. How could you possibly carve something this and the end accomplishment of perfection not have significant value to your soul?
This ring also has a special meaning as one of her favorite pieces. It is a 14kt White Gold Chatham Emerald Diamond Ring. This ring has hand carved Celtic Trinity Knot on each side with no beginning and no end, it represents unity and the eternal love which binds us together. The unity knots surrounded by bead set diamonds on either side with a Chatham emerald as the center. “I enjoyed carving it, the Celtic knots are endless and flow with eternal love,” she says, and as she spoke, I could see a piece of her soul is infused into each piece she carved.
She is also very capable of any type of jewelry repair. However, they do not repair watches, or replace batteries.
Her husband, Gary, who also works in the store, and he has filled the rest of the space with Irish clothing for all ages from adult sweaters to baby onsies.
Trinkets and treasures are woven into the room with gift ideas galore.
The walls are crafted with signage that warms your heart and home, as well as handmade Celtic crosses for a religious display and conversational piece of art.
The vibe of pure creativity surrounds you when you walk in and I would be amazed if you don’t find something you can give as a gift or appreciate yourself for years to come.
Whoo hoo! Only 2 months and the first story I submitted, was published today. Front page, Top Byline, Business section of a local paper, The News Dispatch. I am very honored that they took the time to not only read my submission, but see the value in appreciation of local family owned businesses!
From the awning advertising to the vintage painted word DINER on the historic building storefront in downtown LaPorte, this place takes you back to the days of a high quality diner. I was looking for somewhere to kill a few hours of time while my daughter was at volleyball practice, and decided to investigate a local burger place. Now, I had never heard of this place and was surprised to find they have been here since 2014! They claim to be the home of the smashburger, but I soon found a new favorite hometown greasy spoon. Thanks to David and Dan Thornberry for following their dreams!!
The Brothers definitely have a passion for the ole diner feel and a time where fat free wasn’t even a thought,
and making the noodles for soup is a process of taking their heart and soul as added ingredients to flavor their homemade chicken noodle soup with a splash of love. It warms the belly as well as the spirit.
The crisp cleanliness of this little diner gives it a home-like atmosphere with fun whimsical attributes from the menu to the groupings of wall art.
From appetizers and a family recipe homemade chicken noodle soup, to an all you can eat fish fry Fridays and Saturdays, and great daily specials, this place has something for everyone!! Today’s special was buy one burger and get a single burger for $1.
We ordered the Big T double burger and combo appetizers: zucchini sticks,fried mushrooms,onion rings fried raviolis, and mozzarella cheese sticks. All I can say is well done!! The batter was portioned correctly to the vegetables, and the tastes were individualized – meaning not all thrown into one fryer and cooked together where the flavors blend: A move many small diners do, but cooking them separately, tingles the taste buds with textures and individual flavors of delight. The Fried Ravioli had a nice soft but crispy crumble crust and a smooth rich cheesy center.
I just fell in love with the simple but elegant capture of the 50s Diner.
The decor was enough to keep you looking around and finding new things to see, and yet not too overwhelming. These two brothers smashed more than just burgers, they hit the grand slam with this little Diner!!!!!! If you have been there or are planning to go, please let me know what ya think!!!
I was recently visiting a friend in Chicago for a birthday party and needed a place to rest up and refresh for the evening activities, so I quickly scanned for the cheapest and closest location. I found the Chicago Hotel only a mile away and for only $97 with taxes. WHAT A FIND!! As an art lover and advocate for artists, I was amazed that the universe directed me to a place that inhabited everything I was needing with the unexpected bonus of a community art gallery, at no extra charge!!!
The annex is clean and elegant with an array of displayed art and an explanation of the supported foundation: The Shirley Ryan Artlab, an art therapy program facilitating art as a rehabilitation program for those who suffer strokes, spinal injuries, brain injuries and debilitating diseases such as MS. The hallways act as a 4 story gallery, displaying photos, and paintings along with placards that identify the artist, their story, and usually a quote from the artist regarding the purposeful passion behind their captivating works.
But it doesn’t end there! They have full size wall murals in the rooms painted by various local street artists.
This place was more than a hidden gem, it was an exuberance of community spirit filled with passion, hope, and concern for others.
As for the rooms, the renovations we’re well-noted:from a full size refrigerator, microwave, a Keurig, big screen TV, iron, ironing board, hairdryer, and a nice size personal room safe. They even have rooms with bunk bed style double beds: twin on top and full size on bottom.
I was a little disappointed by no continental breakfast but once I found out that 10% of their minimal room fees are donated to this fantastic art therapy program, I was grateful for the flavored creamer in the lobby with fresh coffee and water as well as vending machines in the stairwells.
I am so excited to go back and take more time to view all the art and read about all the artists, some of the paintings are even for sale, but the passion from the artists and for the artists that this Hotel displays is priceless!!!
Have you been here recently? Do you know of any other great finds like this in the City? Please share your stories of finding hidden art.
Check out their site and enjoy the passion of the neighborhood!!
This little hidden gem brings back the nostalgia of the 80’s getaway. When it was purchased in 1986 it was renovated and added two more buildings to accommodate guests with breathtaking views and the privacy to enjoy all the amenities it has to offer. Walking up to the third floor was worth the sunset views. Keys given with identifying seahorse building medallions were an enjoyable touch. The little things that are overlooked by corporate owners were definitely not missed by this family-owned and run home away from home. Being greeted by the most helpful staff at the front counter, Megan provided transportation options like the free trolley service until 10 pm and the Monkey Bus that operates solely on tips and will pick you up anywhere and take you anywhere on the island. She also gave suggestions of local establishments that enhanced our experience of Anna Marie Island. They also provide a very reasonable and great personal massaging service that will come to your room or provide their services in a tiki hut on their private beach. This is truly a one of a kind great find!!