Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Charlevoix's Only True Waterfront Dining

It's hard to think of food right now when I feel like all I have been doing for the past month is eating! I know the holiday season has arrived as I watch cookie baskets, chocolate covered goodies, and every other thing in the world made out of sugar pass my office and make its way into the break room. But the show must go on, and this week we have a fabulous West Michigan restaurant to feature. We are thrilled to have one of the oldest restaurants in Northern Michigan write this entry for us today. Stafford's Weathervane Restaurant's marketing coordinator Becky Babcock gives us a wonderful look inside the history of the restaurant and the property where it resides. If you are heading up to Charlevoix in the future, you will not want to miss this restaurant!

Originally built as a grist mill, the current Weathervane Restaurant was converted to a dining establishment in the mid 1950s. It was designed by the famed local architect Earl Young, known for his curvaceous roof-lines and flowing architecture.

Before the turn of the century, local farmers delivered grain to a four-story grist mill operated at this site on the banks of the Pine River. Schooners docked conveniently to load on the flour which was then transported to other harbors along the Great Lakes. During the post-war years, when men and materials were once more available for civilian projects, Charlevoix realtor Earl Young acquired the mill and transformed it into a restaurant. The top two floors were eliminated and the new roof was fashioned after the curve of a gull’s wing. The building was faced with limestone and trimmed with Onaway stone from the local quarry.
Young filled it with nautical memorabilia, some of which can still be seen throughout the restaurant today. Characteristic of Young’s imaginative stone work is the glacial boulder fireplace built in the restaurant’s main dining room. Found by Young in the Charlevoix area, the 9-ton key stone resembles the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The meteorite lying at the hearth is only a quarter of the keystone’s size, but it weighs about the same. The main bar is constructed of shipwreck planks weighing over two tons. Illuminating the Weathervane’s entrance are 150-year old street lights imported by Young from Copenhagen.
The circular stairwell to the lower level is another testimony to Young’s creativity. He designed an intimate room among massive timbers and boulders, then opened the room to the outdoors, the channel and the Great Lakes beyond. The "Weathervane Restaurant" became a Stafford's property in 1988, although it was not the first marriage of the company's founder and this particular business. In 1965, Stafford ran the Weathervane for Earl Young and although he expressed interest in buying it, the resources were not available to him.
Stafford's Weathervane Restaurant offers signature and regional cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere and is Charlevoix's only true waterfront dining, nestled along the busy Pine River Channel in downtown Charlevoix. Guests will enjoy unparalleled views of the water from inside, or choose Jeff's Deck for the ultimate in outdoor dining. Watch the boats cruise by from this historic former Charlevoix gristmill and experience gracious lakeshore resort dining.
Fresh is always the word at Stafford’s. Enjoy the Weathervane Restaurant’s many signature appetizers, entrĂ©es and desserts including Stafford’s Oak Planked Whitefish, a Stafford’s specialty since 1961. The bar is always a lively place, and our outdoor dining spot, Jeff's Deck, is scheduled to stay open all year long.
For more information or to view current menus at Stafford’s Weathervane, visit

-- Becky Babcock
Stafford's Hospitality


Anonymous said...

Charlevoix is always on my list of West Michigan places to visit!

Anonymous said...