Leelanau County has added another notch of fame to its belt. Now the two most popular boys’ names in America have their roots in beloved taverns in Glen Arbor and Empire. Last year, 18 percent of all newborn boys nationwide were honored with the names “Art” and “Joe” on their birth certificates. “Art” for Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor, and “Joe” for Joe’s Friendly Tavern in Empire.

Frank Lerchen has big ideas for the space he now owns next to Joe’s Friendly Tavern, his popular restaurant in downtown Empire. Lerchen purchased the building that used to house Deering’s Market late last month from Sue and Phil Deering. Lerchen is installing a septic system and drain field and hopes to build a covered, but open-air Mercato featuring food, cocktails and a permanent farmers market. He hopes to open next May.

There’s a flash of hope today in Empire, amidst very dark times nationwide and worldwide. Frank Lerchen, who owns the Friendly Tavern and Empire Village Inn, is opening a pop-up grocery store in the Village Inn space once occupied by Gemma’s cafe.