Young entrepreneur an old timer in pizza biz

May 26, 2011 // 0 Comments

Belmont B.C. Pizza under new ownership by BETH ALTENA The good news, bad news about being very good at something is that you are likely to be doing a lot of it. That’s all good to Tony Griffin, who has a degree in culinary management from the program at Grand Rapids Community College—the third-ranked program in the nation—knew even before his college days that he liked to cook. “I made dinner for my dad one night and after that I was responsible for dinner at least one night a week,” he said. He was about ten at the time. It was only four years later that he took a job at a B.C. Pizza, and he was hooked. Now, just at age 22, he owns two B.C. Pizzas, employs 28 people and knows how important it is for businesses to be community involved. “In a big town it’s harder to have much of an impact on a community,” he said of his choice to purchase B.C. Pizza in Belmont, located at 2350 Belmont Center Drive (a quarter mile from the YMCA). Griffin considered purchase of restaurants in Grand Rapids, but chose the Belmont area because it is close to Northview and Rockford and is a growing community. “We work closely with the schools and churches in our area,” he said. The restaurant offers a Point of Excellence program for schools, where B.C. Pizza provides gift certificates that teachers can award to children for kindness to others or other qualities of character. The restaurant offers a deep discount to hometown heroes—teachers, paramedics, police and firefighters. “That’s to thank them for taking care of us locally. That’s what they are doing,” Griffin said, noting there is a fire station just up the road from the Belmont B.C. Pizza and a Rockford Ambulance substation just down the road. For a restaurant, there are other important elements to success. “Plus our food is phenomenal,” Griffin noted. The first pizza he ever made was a chicken Parmazeti, ironically B.C. Pizza’s biggest fan favorite. The trick behind the best food is using as many fresh, high-quality ingredients. Whether diners are hitting the daily 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. pizza and salad buffet, or grabbing a grinder, chicken wings sub, wrap or […]

Lake effect doesn’t always mean snow

April 7, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The dreaded “lake effect” that results oftentimes in heavy snows and brings dismay to most people, at the same time, is embraced by the Lake Michigan lakeshore vineyards and wine makers of Michigan. Their proximity to Lake Michigan and its prevailing westerly winds across 50 miles of open water, even in winter, provides temperature modification that protects the vineyards’ grapevines from winter damage. Because of this “good side” of the lake-effect phenomenon, Michigan has become a real player in the winemaking industry. Recently we learned that, for the first time ever, U.S. wine sales topped France. Americans bought more wine overall in 2010 while at the same time practicing moderation by consuming only 2.6 gallons per capita as compared to 12.2 gallons a year for the French. This was great news to Michigan winemakers. We, your reporters, consider ourselves wine aficionados who, in embracing the “Pure Michigan” concept, only purchase and consume wines that are produced in Michigan. As with farm produce, we strive also to think locally. So on a recent Saturday evening after a short 60-mile drive, we arrived at Fenn Valley Vineyards just east of Fennville. We were there to support and partake of the annual Pre-release Winemaker’s Dinner hosted by Doug Welsch, Fenn Valley’s owner and winemaker. In the setting of a gourmet meal, we were given the opportunity to experience six pre-release wines in the very best way possible: with paired food courses. What a setting it was! We found ourselves in the company of 132 wine lovers as we settled down to an educational evening of superb food complemented with the perfect wine variety. With white linen napery, 22 round tables each seating six were resplendent with fresh tulip floral pieces, fine china and silver settings, along with rows of six wine glasses radiating spoke-like from the table’s center. The wine glasses, to each person’s right, were matched to and to be filled with the wine being served with each of the meal’s six courses. But before even being seated, guests mingled and were invited to enjoy the tasting of sparkling wines (both dry and sweet) as they began to know one another while grazing from a table laden with crackers and an array […]

Caterer back in the kitchen with new ‘twist’

September 23, 2010 // 0 Comments

Twisted Vine open for meals, American Spoon sales, catering by BETH ALTENA Laura (formerly Laura DeWilde) Cummings and Dawn Nelson cooked together for over a decade as the team that brought you DeWilde Catering. After a six-year hiatus the two are back in the kitchen together, this time in downtown Rockford at 51 Bridge Street, the location of Twisted Vine. In addition to offering food, the shop also carries a very extensive line of American Spoon products and some gift and household items. Cummings believes the combination allows her to offer something other restaurants don’t. “I used to shop for American Spoon products in Petosky and would put together a tasty gift bag filled with salsas, spoon fruits (some are sugar free) and pottery for family and friends. It made a wonderful gift that was affordable and fun to customize” said Cummings, She said offering all the components of this “perfect gift” in one location is a nice bonus for people who come in to eat or pick up their favorite American Spoon products. American Spoon is a line of Michigan-made products—salsas, jams, roasting sauces, fruit butters, relishes and more—all made in-state with locally-grown produce. The pottery, of Mayfield Pottery, is also crafted by a local Rockford artist. “We have salsa dishes, vases and assorted “couples pottery,” as well as other beautiful pieces,” Cummings explained. The real attraction, of course, is the food, which will vary so that diners can continue to try new things as well as return for favorites. Cummings explained that this was the way she ran her catering company, providing a variety of meals within clients’ budgets. At Twisted Vine sandwiches, soups, a signature chili (so good!) and salads range from $4 up to the Dam Deal for Two, a whole sandwich, two chips and two side deli salads for $12. Samples are always available in the store as well for those who have not yet tasted American Spoon products or the flavorful menu items at Twisted Vine. “I’m very excited to be back in the kitchen and am committed to providing fresh products from Michigan suppliers,” Cummings said. The name of the business comes from Cummings decision to get back in the catering/food business with the “twist” of a changing […]

The Ice Cream Shoppe at Rosies opens

September 16, 2010 // 0 Comments

The Original Rosie’s Diner located on 14 Mile Rd. (M57) in Rockford is getting a new neighbor. The Ice Cream Shoppe at Rosie’s Diner is having its grand opening this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 18-19. What began life as Uncle Bob’s Diner in Flint, Mich., is the original 1947-built Jerry O’Mahony dining car. The diner car was moved to Rockford in 1987 and was joined by Rosie’s Diner from Little Ferry, New Jersey and the Garden of Eatin’ from Fulton, New York. Rosie’s Diner and the newly renovated Ice Cream Shoppe, as well as the 18-hole diner-themed miniature golf course, are owned and operated by Jonelle Woods and her family. Rosie’s Diner gained fame through the 1970’s Bounty paper towel commercials featuring Nancy Walker, as well as recently being featured on FoodNetwork’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” The Shoppe will offer timeless soda shop favorites that are known and loved, including hand-dipped milkshakes and malts, banana splits and towering sundaes. They’ll also be serving premium Michigan-made ice cream as well as soft-serve confections. Visit this the local landmark that boasts the only place in the country with three original diner cars—and now a great stop to enjoy your favorite ice cream treats, too!

Marinara winner has background in food, plans to publish

September 16, 2010 // 0 Comments

Debbie Postma, winner of this year’s Heirloom Tomato Festival Marinara Sauce contest, said she is in the process of publishing her first cook book to share her culinary skills with others. Postma was the first prize winner in the contest which had over a dozen delicious entries. Chef Glen Forge of Red’s said Postma’s sauce came in an amazing 40 points overall in the contest that was judged on flavor and freshness. Postma grew up in restaurants and knew as a little girl what she wanted for her future career. She bought the Depot Cafe in Marne, Mich., and during her years there remodeled the restaurant and added an “all you can eat” Friday night fish fry. “I built a huge breakfast and lunch business as well,” she stated. “I earned many first-place blue ribbons for the famous pies made daily.” Later Postma sold her business and moved to Saugatuck and opned the Gourmet Garden where she served panini sandwhiches, homemade soups from scratch and lattes and smoothies. That business developed into a full gourmet shop and delicatessen. “We specialized in artisian food and gifts. I later married, sold the business and moved back home to Rockford.” Postma is in the process of her next culinary adventure, publishing her cookbooks. Her first book will include the recipe for the marinara sauce that won her a $100 gift certificate to Reds on the River, sponsor of the Tomato Festival, along with organic recipes made in Michigan. Postma will be marketing her book while traveling with her family and business partner and invites those interested to email or

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