From staff reports
On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, Glen Arbor homeowner Shelley Melvin arrived in her golf cart at Fried, the new food truck in the Crystal River Outfitters Recreational District, at 11:30 a.m., as owner and head chef Adam Raupp opened his window and greeted customers with a smile.
Minutes later Melvin was on her way, headed west on M-22 with Raupp’s delicious fried walleye sandwich—pan-fried, not deep-fried, and dressed in a fresh turmeric slaw, with a side of home fries, chocolate pudding, and other treats.
Raupp, who launched Fried last summer outside Short’s Brewing Tap Room in Elk Rapids, has kept his three most popular sandwiches—the fried fish, falafel, and roast beef—but otherwise refreshed the menu, as one nimbly does with a food truck.
“Since we’re here in the Crystal River Outfitters Recreational District, with an awesome wine patio across the street, I wanted to add some nice grab-and-go items for people heading to the beach and the dunes,” said Raupp.
Stationed in the parking lot next to the Riverfront Pizza building, which Crystal River Outfitters owners Matt and Katy Wiesen purchased last year and hope to reopen later in 2022, Fried diversifies the Glen Arbor eating scene, and not a moment too soon, as hundreds of thousands of hungry tourists begin arriving to soak up the summer.
Also new in town this year, Inn and Trail Gourmet, located across the street from the post office, sells carryout gourmet items; the Leelanau Coffee Roasting Company has turned its front parking lot into a pedestrian area with tables and chairs for customers to lounge and watch the downtown action; and L’Chayim Delicatessen aims to begin selling its bagel sandwiches by mid-late June in the M-22-facing space in the Martin Company building. Also back this year is local fixture Todd Stachnik, grilling bratwursts at the front entrance of Anderson’s Market.
With many mouths to feed, these new businesses are welcome additions in busy Glen Arbor.
“Food trucks offer variety and a different, fun atmosphere,” said Raupp. “You get to interface with the guests, which doesn’t happen when you’re a chef in a restaurant. There’s a symbiotic relationship and a more experiential dining experience.
“With so much tourism up here in Northern Michigan, and lots of little pockets that could use food, snacks and refreshments, there’s room in our industry to grow.”
Raupp, 41, a native of Manistee, is a 2014 graduate of the Great Lakes Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. He cut his cooking teeth at Mission Table and Bonobo Winery on Old Mission Peninsula and, before that, in Colorado where he landed his first sous chef position and where “cooking went from something that paid the bills to the realization that this was something I could do for my life,” he said.
The idea of opening a food truck had long appealed to Raupp, who together with his wife Caitlyn has three kids, ages 5, 3 and 2. When COVID-19 arrived two years ago, the pandemic forced him to reassess his life and work.
“Food trucks have always been attractive to me because of the mobility and flexibility they offer. There’s the opportunity to reset and make completely new foods but with the same equipment. The local industry was shaping up pretty good for food trucks, and it seemed like the time was right. This was a chance to take control and write our own destiny.”
Raupp learned of the opportunity to bring Fried to Crystal River Outfitters through a mutual friend. He’s excited about the Wiesens’ desire to supplement recreation on kayaks and bicycles with shopping and a dining and drinking experience. Fried is open daily from 11:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m.