Take a night off and get your Vegas on in the newly redesigned Kabaret Lounge at FireKeepers Casino Hotel (11177 Michigan Ave.) in Battle Creek. The first renovation to occur on the property since the hotel and event center were added in December 2012, the lounge is the Creek’s hottest entertainment spot featuring live music, comedy, karaoke and DJs spinning the wheels of steel. You deserve it. Located just off I-94 at Exit 104, the casino features a 111,700-square-foot gaming floor with 2,900 slot machines, the latest video poker games, and hand dealt table games including blackjack, craps, roulette and a live poker room. Look for Free Market counting his winnings in the exclusive high-limit area VIP lounge.
Head up north this summer to visit Hop Lot Brewing (658 S. West-Bay Shore Dr.), the first brewery in Suttons Bay. Home to Free Market’s uncle, who thinks Ron Paul is a socialist panty-waist, Suttons Bay is a land of natural beauty best observed with beer in hand. Brothers Steve and Drew Lutke, who grew up in Holland, aim to make that happen. Steve, who is the master brewer, has been home brewing seven years. Given his chemistry background, it was only natural that he earned an associate’s degree in brewing technology from the Siebel Institute of Technology. This rigorous technical education ensures the brewery will focus on quality and consistency. Steve said the first brews on tap will be light, drinkable wheat-based brews including an IPA, blonde ale, double milk stout and a saison. “We won’t be doing any barrel-aged craziness at first, but who knows?” With construction slowed by the brutal wintry spring, and a pause for the birth of Steve’s son, the siblings will have the beer garden open by the July 4 holiday. The taproom follows in the early fall. But who wants to drink inside in the summer, right my pets?
Maude’s Taphouse (117 East Allegan St.) opened in downtown Otsego in Allegan County. Owner Linda McPherson, with the help of her husband Roger, envision Maude’s as a quality family restaurant that just happens to have a MASSIVE craft beer bar running through it. Stocking the bar is the responsibility of Mark McPherson, beer guru and their son. Rounding out the family story, the restaurant is named after daughter Analyssa’s four-year-old bulldog, Maude. With 41 drafts on tap, Maude’s offers the area’s largest selection of tapped and bottled beer, as well as wine, champagne and beer cocktails. Look for the Raspberry Neapolitan, which is based on Founders Brewing’s Rubaeus raspberry ale. Fancy. Make sure you arrive hungry, because a taphouse, by definition, is a place to satisfy one’s hunger and thirst amid family and friends. Chef Mark Morey, previously from Arie’s London Grill in Plainwell and Arie’s Singapore and Winston’s in Kalamazoo, has designed a menu that features freshly made entrees along with special dishes for the youngsters. “We love Otsego and we know that Otsego is ready for Maude’s,” Linda said.
Olga Benoit is bringing a little spice to downtown Grand Rapids with her new L'amoureuse Boutique (53 Monroe Center). The owner of Eastown’s Chez Olga restaurant, the always fashionable Olga spent the past four years preparing to open a chic women’s clothing store with a heartfelt mission. “One hundred percent of our profits go to support the Chez Olga Foundation,” she said. The foundation is raising funds to build a trade school in her native Haiti that will help young adults help themselves. The shop is charitable, but it is not a charity. Boasting a lively color scheme, deft merchandising by Olga’s daughter Dodlie, and name brands like Kate Spade and Elie Tahari, the shop would fit nicely in Brooklyn, NY or fashionable Ferndale. L'amoureuse Boutique has a great selection of denim by Calvin Klein and DKNY, which has already been plundered by the coquettish Miss Carolita. Busy during prom season, the boutique also carries an extensive collection of bridesmaid dresses. “Most shops downtown do only black and gray. We want to give our customers a 'wow' experience,” Olga said.
Georgio's Gourmet Pizza opened its second Grand Rapids area location on 28th Street in Cascade Township. The East Lansing native is known for offering more than 50 varieties of pizza by the slice. As long as every variety is DETROIT style, Free Market will be happy.
Betsy from Peninsula Trading (972 Cherry St. SE) says to check out her collection of Eagles Nest Outfitters Single and Double Nest Hammocks. Easy to bring with you just in case. “Going hammocking is a sport now,” she said.
Free Market mourns the loss of Moxie Beauty and Hair Parlor on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids. Don’t worry; the indomitable Stephanie Strowbridge will continue trimming tresses for Hollywood movies, retro photo shoots and winsome wedding parties.