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Historic VI Grill proudly provides a taste of Michigan on every plate

by Kathleen Alexander

The VI Grill, thriving in Downtown Suttons Bay in the heart of Leelanau County, prides itself on family ownership, commitment to the community and a great tasting locally sourced menu. These fundamental elements have kept Michiganders coming back for more than 145 years. To learn about the sustainability of one of the longest running eateries in northern Michigan, host, Kirk Heinze, on Greening of the Great Lakes talks with Joshua Deters, executive chef and owner at the VI Grill.

Originally established as a trading post in 1871, the restaurant has had several owners, all of whom were local and stayed true to the original purpose: to provide the best products Michigan has to offer.

Today, the grill features 50%-60% regional ingredients on average with some months reaching 75%. Leelanau Cheese Company’s superb raclette cheese, Traverse City’s Bay Bread Company fare and the fresh catch from the historic Carlson’s Fishery of Leland are just a few examples of Michigan-produced cuisine presented on any one of the 900-1200 plates served a day at the VI Grill.

“There are just so many great opportunities in this area to feature the community and its products,” says Deters.

To sustain a restaurant of high volume on locally produced products can be difficult and time-consuming, but Deters explains how the changing values of large, food service providers, such as Gordon Food Service, founded in Grand Rapids, has made his hunt for healthy, organic, fresh meat and produce more attainable.

“They provide more Michigan-based, healthy products, and they are not about the frozen food you throw in a fryer anymore,” he adds. “They offer us a nice outlet to be able to get some of those products that in the past you would have to look really hard for.”

Deters, who became the owner in 2007, has a simple philosophy for the VI Grill.

“We’re very unpretentious here, we’re not trying to fool anybody or recreate the wheel,” he reveals. “We just like to bring a good product, at a good price with great service to our customers.”

Greening of the Great Lakes airs inside MSU Today Sundays at 4:00 on AM 870.

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