With multiple successful businesses in Bay County (and a new one on the way), the Owczarzak family’s entrepreneurial roots dig deep into the community.
How it all began
Outside Meats & Mooore is a popular barbecue restaurant, called Meaty’s Roadhouse BBQ & Sausage Shack. (Photo courtesy of Meats & Mooore)
The family’s beginnings in entrepreneurship took root with Broadway Bar. When Ambrose Sr. and Marie Owczarzak passed away in 1976 and 1977, the bar was sold outside of the family.
It operated for a few years as Broadway Richie’s, before closing and returning to the family. Ambrose Jr. and his wife, Mary, then took ownership and opened the bar as Ole Tyme Broadway
at 1602 Broadway St. in the early 1980s.
Ambrose and Mary were experienced business owners when they opened the Ole Tyme Broadway. Several years earlier, the couple opened The Meat Gallery, a butcher shop where all three of their sons – Jeff, Marc, and Craig – worked while growing up.
At the butcher shop, the brothers learned how the business worked, the importance of offering quality food products, and how to take care of customers. All these skills would come to benefit each of them greatly throughout their careers and lives.
The next generation of businesses and where they stand today
The Meat Gallery is now known as Meats & Mooore
, which is operated by Craig Owczarzak at 1411 S. Wenona St. It’s an old-fashioned meat market that specializes in quality sausage and meats, offers deer processing, and even has onsite dining available from Meaty’s Roadhouse BBQ & Sausage Shack.
When their father stepped down, Jeff and Craig ran the business together. Marc wasn’t yet interested in the business.
Jeff Owczarzak and his wife, Heidi, updated and opened the former DAV Hall as Arbeitoer Hall at 1304 S. Wenona St. in 2010. (Photo courtesy of Arbeitoer Hall)
Jeff and Craig worked together until 2009, when they bought the Disabled American Veterans (DAV, located just across the street from the butcher shop.
By 2010, Jeff and his wife, Heidi, had updated and opened the former DAV Hall as Arbeitoer Hall at 1304 S. Wenona St. The space was used primarily for events, but they had bigger plans for the building. Craig continues to run the butcher shop.
In 2013, Jeff and Heidi opened Bay City’s first taproom, Governor’s Quarters
, in the building’s basement. They focused on offering a wide selection of specialty beers, something that wasn’t yet available in Bay County. They opened with a kitchen about a year later, maintaining their top priorities of a clean restaurant and a clean menu.
Arbeitoer Hall hosts special events and fundraisers in its Wenona Street location. (Photo courtesy of Arbeitoer Hall)
“We’re known for clean,” Jeff says. “An example is that we double-wash all of our glasses and take special care to ensure they’re spotlessly sanitized.”
The team also ensures that beer glasses are filled right to the top. They strive to serve only quality foods that offer a great experience for customers.
“We try to stay away from processed foods as much as we can. If I can’t read the ingredients, we generally won’t buy it,” Jeff says.
Jeff credits the entrepreneurial spirit handed down from Ambrose and Mary, as well as their focus on quality and cleanliness, to keeping the family businesses successful.
Marc and Laura Owczarzak have owned O’s Pub and Grill in Auburn since 2014. They expect to open a second restaurant, H2O's Waterside Grill, on Bay City's West Side in 2023.Even Marc, who initially thought that “business wasn’t for him,” eventually caught the spirit. Marc earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering and sought jobs in that field, while his wife, Laura (Stocker) studied Hospitality Management at Northwood University. While their family grew, Laura was a stay-at-home mom.
Once all of their girls were school age, Laura wanted to return to the hospitality industry. At that time, Marc and Laura made some big choices. Both being from Bay County, they wanted to grow something together within their hometown community.
Meats & Mooore, owned by Craig Owczarzak, is an old-fashioned meat market. (Photo courtesy of Meats & Mooore)
One of their favorite hangout spots was the Auburn Sportsman Bar at 123 E. Midland Road in the heart of Downtown Auburn. They loved the comfortable atmosphere and the building’s rich history.
They approached the owner, but he wasn’t immediately interested in selling.
Eventually, though, the timing was right. In 2014, O’s Pub and Grill
The community welcomed the bar and restaurant with open arms and soon a devoted customer base was filling it on weekends plus for special events such as Steak & Chops Night, Team Trivia Thursdays, and Burger Mondays.
What the future holds for these businesses
The Owczarzaks see the larger picture of the Bay Area.
“I just see a tight-knit small, safe community, one that thrives together and helps support one another,” Marc says. “If you need to get something done from someone, it’s nice that you can have a personal relationship with people to help you get that stuff done. I feel like I’m not a number in Bay County and it’s small enough that relationships within the community help.”
Extensive renovations are taking place both inside and outside the new H2O's Waterside Grill. (Photo courtesy of H2O's Waterside Grill)
Jeff sees the promise of prospect within the area. “The population of Bay County has been in continuous decline since the 1970s, but it has slowed significantly in the past couple of years. There is a lot of opportunity here. I look at Bay County as a whole. I think if we continue to promote offerings throughout the area, we can continue to slow or even halt the decline.”
While most of the businesses in the family are growing, one part of the family’s business saga is coming to a close. They sold Ole Tyme Broadway, and the family looks forward to seeing its continued success under new ownership. It was bitter-sweet to do the final walkthrough and inspection, but Jeff is supportive of the new owners. “They’re going to do well with it. I know they will.”
The interior of Governor's Quarters feels like you've stepped into a family friend's basement bar. (Photo courtesy of Governor's Quarters)
At Governor’s Quarters, Jeff and Heidi plan to continue on their path of intentional innovation. “We have a following, and they have certain expectations. We try to stay loyal to some of those things,” Jeff says.
Along with continuing to focus on offering quality beer options, they host weekly events such as music, trivia, and games. They have weekly cornhole tournaments and a PGA-licensed golf simulator available for rent.
There has been a lot of excitement around Marc and Laura’s more recent announcement of opening a second restaurant. O’s has been a great success for them, even beyond what their physical building can hold. Wanting to grow their business, they set their eyes on other locations and eventually found a spot at the former Hooters at the end of Midland Street on Bay City’s West Side.
At Governor's Quarters – a bar known for a wide range of tap beers – owners Jeff and Heidi Owczarzak take special pride in providing a clean environment for their customers. (Photo courtesy of Governor's Quarters)
“O’s has been an overwhelming success for us and it’s at the point where it has the ability to expand,” Marc says. “The building itself is over 100 years old and we didn’t really want to change the structure. So, we needed to find somewhere else to grow. I’m really excited about being an anchor/destination at the end of Midland Street. I like to say the renaissance is coming.”
H2O’s waterside grill is anticipated to open in March of 2023. For more updates, check out its Facebook page.
Both Jeff and Marc hold full-time positions outside of their restaurants, but they find enjoyment in the challenge of running their businesses. Neither brother is pushing his kids to take over the restaurants, but both welcome their children’s help. Marc’s three daughters and Jeff’s son and daughter sought higher education, but most continue to help in the restaurants in some way.