Tag Archives: Cracker Barrel

Beautiful, Beautiful Winter ! (And Where to Eat on Christmas)

Green, white and blue on West Grand Traverse Bay...

Green, white and blue on West Grand Traverse Bay...


These are the days that make you glad you live in a place where there’s such a thing as winter. Maybe not a place where winter can last for six months, of course…

But this morning’s sunrise over the steaming Bay was a beautiful thing of lavender, rose and gold, with deep blue shadows in the hollows of the hills. And now I’m looking out the window at a sky of flawless blue, the trees laden with thick white icing – and it’s so cold that even the snow thrown up by the plow it still pleasantly clean.

Christmas is coming! In the Norton house, three of the four Advent candles are burning on the wreath, including the rosy gaudete candle that signifies rejoicing. And on Saturday, Karen and I spent the day soaking up the season with a visit to the cookie sale at Trinity Lutheran Church to visit old friends, and and afternoon trip to the Village at Grand Traverse Commons to watch their St. Lucia celebration.

DSC_4589 - CopySt. Lucy, as she’s known to us English speakers, was a young girl who was put to death in AD 304 for refusing to surrender her virginity.  Since her feast day is observed in December – on what used to be shortest day of the year -- and because her name comes from the Latin word for light – celebrations of St. Lucy have often involved candles; that’s particularly true in Scandinavia, whose winters are even longer than ours. There, St. Lucia Day traditionally involves a young girl dressed in a white dress and a red sash (to symbolize Lucy’s martyrdom) wears a crown or wreath of candles on her head as she hands out gifts of rolls and cookies.

For the last few years, the Village at Grand Traverse Commons has held a lovely St. Lucia celebration featuring lots of crafted baked goods, charming young girls with robes, sashes and candles on their heads (thankfully, electric ones!)  and carols played by the Northwind Flute Choir. It’s just a nice quiet anti-hectic way to get oneself in the Christmas spirit – especially on a day like Saturday, when the snow was floating down as thick as cottonballs and people were taking advantage of the free horse-drawn carriage rides around the castle-like buildings of the Village.

They were in need of a little extra serenity on Saturday, too. All morning long, there had been farmers and gardeners selling late-season vegetables and herbs in the Mercato (the splendid little indoor shopping district in the quarter-mile-long lower level of Building 50) and a television crew from HGTV had been filming a segment for the show “You Live in WHAT?” about all these people living, working, shopping and playing flutes in what had been, after all, an enormous mental asylum.

Horse-drawn carriage rides in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

Horse-drawn carriage rides in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

Like downtown Traverse City and many of our surrounding communities, the Village works hard to let people know that wintertime can be beautiful and bustling at the same time. They have their own Christmas tree lighting, and next week there’s a last-ditch shopping event called “Procrastinators United.” No St. Lucia girls or flutes this time, but those free carriage rides will still be available!

Before I forget, though, it’s time to publish our annual list of Traverse City restaurants where you’ll be ably to get dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or both. As always, it’s probably incomplete – I’m glad to make corrections if you just let me know. In the meantime, it’s time to stop procrastinating!

Area restaurants open on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day 2013

West Bay Beach Holiday Inn Resort     Chef Derek : 383-5844

Christmas Eve Dinner-Open 11:30am-10pm.

Christmas Day Buffet:

Hours: Noon -5pm

Adults-$25.95, kids 12yrs + under $12.95, 5 yrs.

Great Wolf Lodge      Amanda Carlson: 941-3600 XT 788

Hours: 7:00am-11am. Reservations are not necessary.

Christmas Day Breakfast Buffet:

Adults-$11.99, kids 4-10yrs. $6.99 3yrs. & under 3 are free.

Christmas Day Dinner Buffet:

Hours: 4pm-9pm

Adults-$24.99, teens 11-15yrs. $14.99, kids 4-10yrs. $8.99, under 3 are free.

Grand Traverse Resort & Spa     Jillian: 534-6800

Aerie Restaurant:

Christmas Eve Dinner-Open 5pm (last seating at 8:45pm)

Christmas Day Brunch:

Hours: 11am-6pm Reservations are highly recommended.

Adults (ages 12 yrs.+)-$29.95, kids 5-12yrs-$14.95, 5 yrs. & under are free.

Advance reservations are highly recommended. Call 231-534-6800

All lounges/bars are closed. State law prohibits the sale of alcohol on Christmas Day.

Sweetwater Café: Bill 534-6000

Breakfast 7am-2pm



*Shanty Creek Resorts   Kathy: 533-8621 XT 7100 *reservations are recommended.

Lakeview Restaurant:

Christmas Eve Dinner Buffet  5-9pm

Adults-$27, seniors $25, kids 9-12 yrs. $14, 5-8 yrs. $12, 4& under are free.

Christmas Day Breakfast Buffet:

Hours: 8am-11am

Lunch: Noon-2pm

Christmas Day Dinner Buffet:

Hours: 5pm-9pm

Adults-$27, seniors $25, kids 9-12 yrs. $14, 5-8 yrs. $12, 4& under are free.

*Cambria Suites-Reflect   Scott: 778-9000

Christmas Eve  (order off menu)

Breakfast                      Lunch               Dinner:

Hours: 7am-11am          11am-4pm         4pm-9pm

Christmas Day (order off menu)

Breakfast                      Lunch               Dinner:

Hours: 7am-11am          11am-4pm         4pm-9pm

*Leelanau Sands Casino Christine   534-8100

Christmas Eve

Big Dex’s Pizzaria CLOSED

Christmas Day (Order from the menu)

Hours: 5-10pm

Turtle Creek Casino    534-8888

Christmas Eve

Bourbon 72 will be closed.

Seasons Buffet 9am-10pm

Christmas Day

Bourbon 72:

Hours: 5pm-10pm Prime Rib/Crab Legs buffet Adults $29.95, Kids 5-12 yrs $19.95 under 4 free

Seasons Buffet:

Breakfast-8am-10:30am Dinner 5pm-10pm

*Free Community Meal: Phil’s on Front- Open noon-6pm, 231-929-1710

Open on Christmas Eve but closed Christmas Day:

*Amical-Serving lunch 11am-3pm, 231-941-8888

*Apache Trout Grill- Serving lunch 11am-2pm, cocktails 2pm until 5pm

*Bagger Dave’s serving lunch and dinner (off menu) 11am-6pm

*Cracker Barrel-Serving breakfast & lunch 6am until 2pm, 231-933-9244

*Firefly-Open 11am-5pm, 231-932-1310

*Maddy’s Tavern-Open 11:30am-5pm, 231-276-6244

Harrington’s by the Bay-Open 11am-6:30pm, 231-421-9393

*La Senorita-Open 10am-8pm, 947-8889

*Minerva’s-Serving lunch 6:30am-2pm, 231-946-5093

*Poppycock’s-Open 11am-3pm, 231-941-7632

*The Boathouse-Serving dinner 4pm-9pm, 231-223-4030

Where Can You Go in TC for Thanksgiving Dinner 2013?

The fireplace is always a nice winter touch at the Jolly Pumpkin.

The fireplace is always a nice winter touch at the Jolly Pumpkin -- and they're open on T-Day!


Not so many years ago, finding yourself in Traverse City on Thanksgiving wasn’t  always something to feel thankful about.  In fact, it could be downright lonesome. Unless you were visiting family or staying in one of the larger resorts, it was difficult to find a restaurant – any restaurant -- that was open on Thanksgiving Day.

In a way, this was part of our small-town charm; restaurant workers got to take the holiday off so they could be home with their families enjoying their own dinners. But it wasn’t so charming for the unwary winter visitors who came Up North looking for a special home-style Thanksgiving and ended up in the motel room with a Big Mac and fries.

Fortunately, those times are behind us now. This is a Foodie Town, people, and there are lots of great restaurants open on Thursday, with everything from traditional turkey-and-stuffing meals to table-creaking buffets. Here’s our list of places where you can enjoy a Thanksgiving meal, as well as the names of a few that will definitelyl be closed. It’s probably not complete -- in, fact, I'm sure it's not -- so please feel free to add to it by using the comments box!

And have a Happy Thanksgiving, OK?

Or you could just go out and find one of these guys...

Or you could just go out and find one of these guys...

Minerva's- Open 11am-4pm (last seating at 3:30pm) Traditional Thanksgiving Buffet Adults-$18.95, kids 4-12 yrs. $8.95, 3 yrs. & under are free, Call for reservations: 231- 946-5093

West Bay Beach a Holiday Inn Resort- Open 11am-5pm, Buffet includes a carving station, Roast Turkey & Leg of Lamb. Adults-$24.95, Seniors-$21.95, kids 4-12yrs- $12.95, 3 yrs. & under are free.  Reservations are recommended. 231-421-2134.

Great Wolf Lodge-Open 12pm-8pm, Traditional Turkey Buffet; includes chef carved Prime Rib, Ham & a chocolate fountain. Adults-$28.99, 11-15 yrs.-$15.99, 4-10 yrs. $8.99, 3yrs. & under are free. Call for reservations: (231) 941-3600

Cottage Café- Open 7am-9pm, Traditional Thanksgiving Buffet served noon-7pm, Adults-$15.99, kids 4-10 yrs. & under-$8.50.  Reservations for large parties are recommended, call (231) 947-9261

Firefly- Open 1pm-5pm Grand Buffet and carving station, Adults-$24.95, kids 4-10 yrs-$11.95, 3 yrs. & under are free.  Reservations recommended. Call (231) 932-1310

Reflect Bistro at the Cambria Suites Hotel is doing a traditionalThanksgiving Dinner for the second year in a row under chef Scott Neumann from noon until 8 p.m.. $24 for adults, children 12 and under $14, Children under 5 complimentary! (231) 778-9000

Grand Traverse Resort & Spa-Aerie-Open 11am-6pm, Traditional Buffet including choice of Smoked Salmon, Ham & Turkey breast.  Adults-$29.95, kids-5-11yrs. $14.95, 4 yrs. & are free.  Reservations are highly recommended. Call (231) 534-6800

Shanty Creek Resorts-Lakeview Restaurant-Open 11am-3pm. Adults-$26, seniors- $24, kids 9-12 yrs.-$12, kids 5-8yrs. $10,  4 yrs. & under are free. Reservations are recommended (231)-533-3070. Or, Thanksgiving Turkey To Go: Full order (serves 10-12 people) $145, Half order (serves 5-6 people) $125 Call (231) 533-7085 to order. Orders will be accepted through Tues. Nov. 26 at 2pm.

Bluebird Restaurant- Open noon-6pm. Traditional plated dinners with choice of Turkey or Prime Rib. Adults-$20, kids 12yrs. & under $8.95. Reservations are recommended (231) 256-9081

Maddy's Tavern -Open 1pm-5pm, Adults-$17.95, kids 12-6yrs- $9.95, 5yrs. & under are free.  Reservations are recommended (231) 276-6244.

The Jolly Pumpkin- Open 11am-3pm. Traditional buffet, Adults-$21.95, kids 6-12yrs-$12.95, 5 yrs. & under are free. (Mission Table is closed for the season). Reservations are recommended. Call: (231) 223-4333.

The Boathouse-Open 2pm-6pm. Serving plated dinner with your choice of Turkey or Duck, and additional selections are available from the regular menu. Kids menu available.    Reservations are highly recommended. Call: (231) 223-4030.

Cracker Barrel- Open at 6am for breakfast. Serving a traditional Thanksgiving plated dinner at 11am. Adults- $9.99.  Or, order Thanksgiving Dinner To Go: Serve a family of six for $54.99! Purchase holiday pies for $8.49. Call in advance (231) 933-9244). *Open at 3am on Black Friday!

Phil’s on Front- Open noon-8pm. Serving a traditional Thanksgiving plated dinner along with additional selections from the regular menu. Prices TBD. Reservations are highly recommended (231) 929-1710.

Copper Falls- Black Star Wine Dinner-Open noon -6pm (last seating). Serving a traditional Thanksgiving plated dinner with choice of; Turkey, Ham, Prime Rib or sautéed White Fish. Adults-$21. No kids menu or special pricing. Space is limited. Reservations are highly recommended (231) 943-1103.

Bob Evans-Open at 7am for breakfast. Serving a traditional Thanksgiving plated dinner from 10:30am-2pm. Adults-$12.99, kids 12 yrs. & under $3.99. Or, order the Farmhouse Feast To Go: Family of four- $49.95, family of eight - $79.95.  You must call 24 hours in advance for take out orders. (231) 938-1005.

The following restaurants will be closed on Thanksgiving Day: Old Mission Tavern--North Peak--Tuscan Bistro--Red Ginger--Harrington’s--Trattoria Stella --Martha’s Leelanau Table--Schelde’s--Olive Garden