Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of reviews of area restaurants. The reviewer is new to the community so she is not so easily recognizable to the businesses she is reviewing.
By Sheryl Oswalt
This month’s assignment has me back in my new home town of Vicksburg to the Village Hide-A-Way. This establishment has a special place in my heart as it was the first place my husband took me to on my first visit to Vicksburg. I have to admit it was pretty intimidating at first. We walked in and I felt like every head turned to see who was coming in. It was obvious that they were looking for a familiar face and I wasn’t one of them! Luckily my date was a familiar face and I felt the buzz of conversation around me as I seemed to be the talk of the bar until the door opened again and they greeted the next guests.
The Hide-A-Way has a great “Cheers” feeling about it. Everyone seems to know each other and it’s a very friendly environment. Young and old alike gather there to enjoy a beer after work or a great meal in a casual environment for a reasonable price. A lot of chatting goes on amongst the tables and even on a Tuesday night the place was packed. My experience matches with the comments on-line boasting of great food in large portions and a great wait staff.
Vicksburg graduate Jack Plankenhorn left a career in construction in 1980 to purchase the Hide-A-Way. His son, Scott, graduated from Vicksburg in 1981 and attended Valparaiso University on a football scholarship, studying criminal justice and sociology. Little did he know that he would return to purchase the Hide-A-Way in 1999. The building was built in 1892 and as far as Scott knows, it has always been a tavern; with the exception of the Prohibition years when it was labeled a “pool hall.”
The walls are covered with signed sports photos and memorabilia that Scott has acquired through various charity auctions and as gifts. Sports are important; not only to the owner, but to the patrons. Scott indicated that game days are always busy for them. Fans are particularly fond of the Detroit Lions and Tigers. He welcomes both MSU and U of M fans. When asked who the most famous face was to visit the Hide-A-Way, Scott mentions former MSU football and Cincinnati Bengal, Kyle Cook.
Plankenhorn named the night before Thanksgiving as his busiest evening. He credits that to the fact that the place has been in the same family for 35 years. When past Vicksburg graduates come home, they come to the Hide-A-Way to look for long lost friends and fellow graduates. St. Patrick’s Day is another big day for the staff. This year they unveiled a new corned beef sandwich and sold over 300 in a four-day run. A twist on the Reuben, this sandwich is made with corned beef, fried cabbage and onions. If his California Reuben is any indication, I found that sandwich to be one of the best I’ve ever had. The regular Reuben seems to be a big favorite of on-line reviewers. The perch basket is a favorite of my husband’s and it too is very generous in serving size.
Giving back to the community is very important to Plankenhorn. He served as Vicksburg’s football coach from 2006 to 2008 and sponsors several local sports teams including rocket football, travel baseball and hockey teams. He chooses to spend his advertising dollars supporting the kids of the community and their families return the favor by frequenting his business.
He credits his success to the quality of the food they serve, the charm of the community atmosphere and the great service that his staff provides. He was quick to give credit to his staff of 15; particularly his kitchen manager, Nathan Osborne; his front manager Nicole Bailey; and his general manager, Jared Tinklenberg. He also mentioned how the State’s ban on smoking in food establishments actually brought a boost to his business. After the change, he was able to draw in local school employees, bank employees and hospital staff for lunch that were previously unwilling to come in and go back to work smelling like smoke.
For updates on activities and daily specials; check out the Village Hide-A-Way on Facebook. Better yet, stop in and enjoy a meal. Say Sheryl sent you!