By Sue Moore
Opening a new restaurant usually has its pitfalls and The Vault’s start in Vicksburg on W. Prairie Street was no exception this past January.
Co-owners Clint Powell and Michelle Snook received a call from the Kalamazoo County Health Department inspector on Thursday, January 9th that their new restaurant was cleared to open. A storm was predicted, their dishes and glasses were somewhere en route and their liquor license was awaiting approval.
“We cleaned out TJMaxx and Bed Bath & Beyond in Portage so we could open on Monday for a soft landing,” relates Powell. The opening was anything but that. Salads were taking 30 minutes to get done instead of three, the orders were coming in faster than they could produce and they ran out of food. That was just for starters. They thought they were out of the woods with changes they quickly made in the kitchen and hiring more staff by Saturday, Jan. 18, when they got hammered again with breakfast customers who had heard by word of mouth that The Vault was now open.
We ran out of our signature French toast, biscuits and gravy that we make from scratch, then the crepes were gone and it was standing room only the first Saturday morning, Snook recalls. These items take a lot of time to ramp up for so we were left with offering oatmeal. “It was a learning experience,” says Powell, “but we are moving forward as we want to do this whole thing right. We closed on Sunday to fix it and now we are greeting our old and new customers with the very best we have to offer.”
The couple purchased the Boundary Waters café from John Ferrand in 2012 and renamed it The Village 1872, the founding date of Vicksburg’s incorporation. They mainly served coffee, bake goods, breakfast and lunch in this store and have adapted those offerings to the new location, while incorporating many new dishes.
The chef is Gordon Yokie, formerly of Clementine’s in South Haven. He has brought some good ideas with him according to Snook. They will open for dinner, in three to four weeks, once they feel comfortable with the service and the beer and wine list. They are licensed to serve liquor and will add that a short time later. The hours now are Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eventually they plan to be open until 10 p.m. and perhaps longer when they begin offering live entertainment in the summer.
A large deck has been built on the west side of the building, overlooking Sunset pond where they expect to offer outdoor dining and entertainment. The coffee is exclusively roasted from Johnnie’s Java, a Vicksburg Farmers’ Market vendor who they became acquainted with last year. The coffee comes from a single-origin bean that is offered in many flavors. Coffee tastings are planned for later this year.
Construction of the interior took far longer than anticipated, Powell laments. They began in June 2013 and six months later have occupied the Bank of America building, thus the name of the restaurant, The Vault. They have 13 deeded parking spaces next to the building and 13 across the street in the village of Vicksburg’s parking lot. The Village employees and elected officials have all been very helpful during the construction phase, Powell says.
“We aspire to be a top drawer restaurant. We want to serve a complete customer base with a place for families to hang out in the summer, during festivals and dancing when we have live entertainment. There are eight employees now with 15-20 the optimum. “The public has been wonderful, encouraging and willing to give us time to get it right,” Powell asserts. “We’ll offer steak, unique burgers, a couple of different pastas,” Snook says as she largely works behind the scenes while her partner Powell is the up-front and go-to guy.