"A place that celebrates the art and craft of producing a high-quality pizza."
This is the vision for Whistle Punk Pizza, a new restaurant in downtown Muskegon with a name inspired by the town's lumbering history ("whistle punk" is what the newest member of a logging camp was called.)
After operating out of a mobile oven at the Muskegon Farmers Market and popping up at local festivals over the summer, Whistle Punk opened a permanent location at 1133 Third St. last November. Revue caught up with two of the restaurant's four partners, Jeremy and Jamie Paquin — also owners of Mia & Grace — to discuss these pizza lovers' latest foodie venture.
How did your collaboration with partners Logan and Tami Pitts begin?
Jeremy: Logan and Tami were customers of Mia & Grace who became close friends of ours. Once we discovered they shared the same passion for food and hospitality, it was inevitable that we would work together.
What do you love about the work you’re doing?
Jamie: The opportunity to create a menu using the best locally sourced ingredients in season. And the relationships that can be built through food — being part of a community, forming new friendships and helping people realize all of the wonderful foods grown here in Michigan.
How have you built relationships with local farmers?
Jamie: When we first started Mia & Grace seven years ago, we visited Muskegon Farmers Market and began to make contacts there. Farmers are a lot like chefs. Everyone kind of knows everybody, so we kept making new contacts with farmers who could provide honey, meat, produce, eggs, mushrooms and more. We've carried over these relationships, and now most of the farmers in the area know that we're interested in their homegrown products.
What kind of experience are you hoping to create for your customers?
Jeremy: We want Whistle Punk to become the local pizza joint — a place where people can hang out, listen to old records and watch Neapolitan pizza being made right from their seats.
What's most unique pizza you've created?
Jeremy: It's called the Yellow Belly — a combination of fresh Michigan corn, jalapenos, cream and spices. The only unfortunate part is that we won't be able to offer it again until next summer.
Can you recommend a good drink pairing for a couple of your pizzas?
Jamie: We don't serve alcohol at Whistle Punk, but we do offer local sodas. Our Jam Cracker — a combination of house-cured ham, roasted garlic, crème fraiche and orange rhubarb jam — pairs well with a classic orange Faygo.
What's on the horizon?
Jeremy: The mobile unit will be at Muskegon Farmers Market starting again in the spring or when the weather will permit. We're definitely thinking of other markets along the lakeshore, but we want to take things nice and slow. The menu will always be pizza only. We would love everyone to enjoy Whistle Punk as much as we do, for it to be a showcase of what great pizza can be when it's made with the best local ingredients and a great dough as a canvas.
Whistle Punk Pizza is located at 1133 Third St., Muskegon. whistlepunkpizza.com, (231) 288-1321