“Every time I walked into Eddie’s Village Inn restaurant in Suttons Bay (currently the V.I. Grill), the black and white vintage photos on the walls created a time capsule effect,” writes Rebecca Carlson in part 11 of our Leelanau farming families series. “Eddie and Mary Lou (Walter) Rothgarber carefully curated this amazing collection that they shared with every guest who walked into their restaurant. As the tapestry of pictures narrated the story of Suttons Bay and the surrounding area, the restaurant served as a semi-historical museum.”
It’s a tale as old as time: people visit the area, fall in love with it and retire here. But for Marc and Elizabeth Huntoon, retiring was actually the beginning of a new endeavor. Their Gilchrist Farm tasting room and restaurant opened Labor Day weekend, offering locals and visitors a new option for wine and engaging dishes. A true family affair, it also involves their daughters Laurel and Alyssa as well as Alyssa’s husband George. And while the tasting room opened Sept. 1, Gilchrist Farm actually dates to 2018, when the Huntoons bought 85 acres of land on South French Road. They began planting the next year, and purchased and planted 21 more acres over the next two years.
Perhaps no Spring 2020 COVID-19 transplants to Leelanau County were as mysterious, and now as controversial, as Jeff and Shaleia Ayan, the Suttons Bay residents and relationship coach gurus behind Twin Flames Universe, which a December 2020 Vanity Fair article called “a sort of therapeutic-spiritual reality show.” Last week the streaming service Netflix launched a scathing, three-part documentary series titled “Escaping Twin Flames,” which casts the Ayans’ online community as a cult whose leaders prey upon members and charge them thousands of dollars while pressing them into toxic relationships and manipulating their emotional and mental health struggles. Twin Flames has also attracted negative national press from Vice and Time magazine.
Get ready for a special spooky Halloween offering at the Bay Community Theatre, Saturday, Oct. 21, at 7 pm. The 1924 classic silent film The Hands of Orlac will be shown, accompanied by the composer, Chicago based Maxx McGathey performing live.
A long-awaited wine tasting room, which also features small plates and seasonal dinners in downtown Suttons Bay, opened Sept. 1. Gilchrist’s tasting room will offer a selection of whites, reds, and frozen beverages. In addition to their wine menu, Gilchrist’s culinary team has developed a seasonal menu of 7-9 small plates that will rotate with the seasons and highlight local produce with a balance of creativity and simplicity.
Poppy flowers look so fragile, with flame-colored, papery petals held high on wiry stems. Yet these bold beauties are surprisingly resilient as well, returning each spring to delight the eye in garden and field. Just so with Poppy Things, the brand and eponymous boutique, which will be celebrating four years in Suttons Bay this autumn. Chelsey Sawallich Skowronski, creator of Poppy Things, knew she wanted to be an artist from a young age. She describes her delighted discovery at age 12 of an abandoned farmhouse near her family’s Centerville Township farm: “I had never seen poppies before; they were glowing against the weathered siding. From [then on], I knew. It’s something I’ve always loved.”
Peninsula Housing has announced the availability for purchase of their first home. Located at 1002 S. Herman Road in Suttons Bay, this three-bedroom home was acquired by Peninsula Housing last fall. After extensive renovations, it is now ready to be sold at an affordable price to a qualifying buyer. “We are excited to be able to offer this home at a price that working families can afford,” said Peninsula Housing president Larry Mawby.
Among the pantheon of local artists, Brenda J. Clark’s paintings of Leelanau are so entirely unique—and so singularly vibrant—that they can easily be recognized as hers. This summer marks the 20th anniversary of Clark’s eponymous gallery, the Brenda J. Clark Gallery, which she founded with her husband, Johnston Mitchell. Located in downtown Suttons Bay, after a brief nascency in nearby Leland, Clark’s “working gallery” abides by an accessible approach: doors always open to encourage communal interaction.
The Suttons Bay Chamber of Commerce will host the annual Artisan & Wine Walk, A Toast to Suttons Bay on Friday, June 16. Patrons will enjoy extended hours from 5-8 pm at participating shops that will also feature a local artisan along with their work. Art will be available for purchase, and some artists will be demonstrating their craft in person.
Bekah TenBrink’s dream of building an after-school program for Leelanau teens continues to grow. LIFT Teen Center has expanded from the Suttons Bay area into Suttons Bay and Northport schools, with Leland on the brink. TenBrink said discussions continue about adding other county schools. “We hope to be at every single school in Leelanau County,” she said. LIFT has helped chaperone field trips, work with the school’s Career Day and college visits, and other special events, such as rock climbing at the Elevate climbing gym in Traverse City. “We fill in the gaps,” TenBrink said.