by BETH ALTENA
Latitudes and Steelheads Tavern is a split-personality establishment which combines two separate eating and drinking establishments into one really amazing “gastro pub.” The term gastro pub is describing a pub or tavern where customers can drink, but also serves great food. Located in a century-old quaint historic hotel in Howard City, the restaurant/bar is only a short drive from Rockford and worth the trip.
Owners Max P. Frank Zamarripa and Abby Zamarripa, saw an opportunity for a really rockin’ restaurant and bar in a very cool historic city and opened the doors of Latitudes and Steelheads Tavern on December 18, 2003. Frank has traveled extensively, eating and dining at many different restaurants, and had a vision that he believed would be a good fit in his community. Time has proved him right.
“We have the best customers,” explained Abby. “They have been with us since we opened and are very loyal. We enjoy our business because we feel a sense of accomplishment and giving back to the community.”
Latitudes and Steelheads has two separate doors entering into two areas: a casual fine dining restaurant at Latitudes and a rockin’ Chicago-style tavern through the Steelheads door. Both places serve customers by treating them well with friendly service, good pricing and plenty of quality offerings.
Secrets of success in dining and drinking establishments are fresh, wholesome food, good cold drinks and all at a reasonable price. The restaurant purchases food locally produced when possible, including Ingraberg Farms of Rockford for fresh, seasonal produce, hand-cut beef from Berghorst Farms, cheese from farms in Lakeview, fruit from local orchards, and Zoye Soy Bean oil for frying from a supplier in Zeeland. They choose the soy bean oil because it has zero trans fat—just one of many decisions to be health conscious for diners.
“We try to have all our specials be seasonal with what is fresh and try hard to support and buy from Michigan farmers,” noted Frank.
He said the restaurant also raises money for community fundraisers, recycles as much as possible and is in the process of becoming a certified “green” restaurant. There is live music on weekends and karaoke on Thursday nights.
Among the offerings for which Latitudes and Steelheads has become well known, are pan-fried walleye, lake perch, a fresh local arbograst bean “veggie burger,” soups all homemade, all-you-can-eat shrimp and crab on Monday nights, the freshest of produce, excellent burgers and wraps, deep-fried pickles and Portabella fried mushrooms.
The friendly staff at Latitudes and Steelhead is also part of the recipe that has earned the eatery success. According to Frank and Abby, John Bryan Dehart has been with the restaurant since it opened. Hillary and Paige Fified and lifelong friend Maria Didion, personal secretary has been a wonder. Others include Milissa, Tammy, Darci Jotham and Jammin, just to name a few.
“They are all very qualified and very well-trained, hard workers,” Abby described.
To wrap up the atmosphere of this most unusual place to dine or drink, the couple summed up in six words: Fun! Historic! Chicago-style gastro pub!
Latitudes and Steelheads is located at 101 E. Edgerton, Howard City, MI 49329. The hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday noon to midnight, and Friday and Saturday noon to 2 a.m. The restaurant can be reached by telephone at (231) 937-7056 or online at latitudes-steelheads.com.