As the U.P. summer winds down, downtown Marquette echoes with memories of festivals, outdoor competitions, tourists, and an influx of new businesses offering everything from clothing, coffee, and food to interior design services.
Marquette's restaurant scene has been enlivened by the addition of several new eateries and night spots. DIGS Gastropub, located at 154 W. Washington St., offers what it calls "A big city experience with small-town charm." Owner Pat Digneit (the "Dig" in DIGS) says he achieves this balance by "taking ordinary bar food and elevating it."
DIGS's recipes are all original, and all meats are smoked in-house. The menu is the creation of Mike Forrester, who also handles design and marketing. The menu includes standard fare such as burgers, reubens, and turkey sandwiches, but also features offerings unique to the area, such as the kobra kai sa: Korean marinated chicken topped with vinegar slaw, Brie, and gochujang-lime sauce, all on a spiced waffle. Other offerings include kimchi rice balls, and the phoritto: Korean braised pork belly, rice noodles, house kimchi, caraway pickled red onions, fresh cilantro, lime, and the house au jus.
"We wanted to differentiate ourselves a little bit, to fill a void in the market. We have a lot of bars and a lot of great food. We take ordinary bar food and... put our spin on it," says Digneit.
Digneit and his fiancee purchased the former Doghouse in August 2016, and ran it under the Doghouse name until New Year's Eve of that year, closing out the night with a lively farewell event. They began renovations immediately after. "When we took the walls down we found the original brick and walls from 1885," says Digneit. They combined that historic structure with a modern industrial vibe.
"We're an all-ages bar," says Digneit. "We welcome ages 21 to 81." DIGS features live entertainment five nights a week, with bingo on Tuesdays, trivia on Wednesdays, bands on Thursdays, and a DJ on Saturday and Sunday. They also offer catering for events large and small, and will begin serving brunch the weekend of Beer Fest, Sept. 9.
The former Sweetwater Cafe at 517 N. Third St. has been reincarnated as Cafe Bodega. The atmosphere remains casual, warm, and welcoming. The full service restaurant, bar, and bakery uses fresh, local, natural ingredients, choosing organic foods whenever possible. The bar offers craft cocktails, Michigan draft beers, and a diverse selection of wines.
The cafe's menu features some old Sweetwater favorites, including the spud plate and the pesto grilled cheese. New offerings include the El Zorro burrito, a breakfast burrito filled with eggs, chorizo, white cheddar, black beans, peppers, and onion, and the chimichurri beef, a spice-rubbed, pan seared 6-ounce tenderloin finished with chimichurri sauce. Options for breakfast, lunch, or dinner are designed to satisfy diners who favor either traditional or more adventurous fare.
The Recovery Room
The Recovery Room, located at 142 W. Washington, offers not medicinal recovery, but revival via food and beverages. Guests are welcome to sit inside, or enjoy the fresh air on the shaded patio. Drink options include specialty cocktails and more than 15 craft beers. The menu features American pub-style food, including burgers, fish and chips, and a roasted in-house corned beef. Many items are made in-house, and vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options are available.
Fall also seems to be the season for new coffee shops in Marquette. The former home of Forsberg Flowers at 600 N. Third St. will soon be the professional home of attorneys George Hyde and Derek Swajanen, as well as the site of Contrast Coffee. The two men are the building's new owners, and Hyde says big changes are in store.
"We completely renovated the four apartments on the top floor," says Hyde. "Downstairs, the front of the building will be a coffee shop -- Contrast Coffee. Contrast is a different take on coffee shops. Our law offices will be at the back of the building."
Hyde added he and Swajanen have always wanted to own their own building, and this location is ideal. "Third Street is alive," says Hyde. "We felt it was a great place to be."
Contrast Coffee prides itself on serving a brew that is, according to its website, "lovingly grown by farmers that have proudly grown their crops for generations." It offers coffee not only lovingly grown, but "so masterfully brewed it causes you to stop, close your eyes, and savor the moment." Sounds like quite a promise.
Velodrome Coffee Company
Coffee lovers will also be welcome at Velodrome Coffee Company, located at 519 W. Washington St. Velodrome will open its cafe and roastery at the end of August. This will be the roastery's first brick and mortar location; until now its products have been sold online, at pop-up openings, and occasionally at the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market.
Velodrome is owned and run by husband and wife team Brice and Teagan Sturmer. The word velodrome describes "a kind of bicycle track that is built to help bikers maximize and maintain speed through the laws of physics," says Brice Sturmer. "Velodrome Coffee Company also values simplicity, and trimming down options to create an uncomplicated approach to coffee. Having only a few seasonal coffee offerings at a time as well as a simplistic drink menu will help create a deeper connection to the craft of coffee for the consumer."
The coffee-bike connection goes beyond the shop's name. Brice Sturmer says everyone at Velodrome embraces cycling as a way of life - and a way of doing business. "You can also expect to see us delivering coffee beans by bike for orders within the city limits of Marquette."
Those beans, he says, are purchased from farmers from all over the world, farmers whom the Sturmers know personally. "We can provide a complete path of traceability down to the hands that grew the coffee plant."
Two more businesses are bringing creative inspiration to downtown Marquette. KADU Designs, like DIGS, takes its name from its owner's name, Katherine DuVernois. "I like the sound of it, and I like the mystery of people wondering about the meaning of the word, " explains DuVernois, who recently launched her business at 610 N. Third St.
DuVernois feels Marquette is growing and changing, and sees this as an opportunity to bring her design aesthetic to the area. "My studio is a labor of love. I am bringing together all of my favorite products that I have worked with, and I include my values in my selections. I have cabinetry and furniture made out of reclaimed barnwood. I have three cabinetmakers who are all in the U.P., I have handmade ceramic dinnerware made in Michigan, and more," she says.
DuVernois says she gets to know her clients in order to develop a design plan that is specific to that client, rather than following whatever is trendy in the moment. What is trendy today, she says, can quickly become dated looking. Her goal is to create a design scheme that's as individual as the client.
"Together we can discover what their personal style is and create a concept. This can be very challenging, but it's the part I enjoy the most. An interior designer is trained to take into consideration the needs and lifestyle of the client, as well as their personal style, and will be able to work within any style and color scheme," says DuVernois.
Style and color in wearable form is offered at Blackbird, located at 110 N. Third St. The shop offers local art, handmade jewelry, clothing, fair trade items, and "little luxuries for the body and soul," according to its Facebook page. The store is small, but its eclectic assortment of dresses, necklaces, bracelets, socks, art, and more give the store a funky, chic, and comfortable -- rather than crowded -- vibe.
Summer may be waning, but business is blooming throughout downtown Marquette, and that promises a successful and busy fall and holiday season to come.