In their third season at Olde Mill Golf Course, owners Cheryl and Bert Hovenkamp have teamed with Creative Catering Services and The Garden Griddle to provide restaurant and banquet services for their facility at 6101 W XY Avenue in Schoolcraft. They are very excited to be actively booking events in the new banquet center. (Check out the beautiful photos on the Events tab of the Olde Mill website, http://www.oldmillgolf.net)
So where does this story begin? Educated yet still unemployed in 2010, Sarah Cox held a brainstorming session with her mother, Janice Kimble. They concluded that above all, they loved to throw parties. Much to her mother’s surprise, that evening ended with daughter Sarah going home to build a website for their new catering business. The need for access to a commercial kitchen can make entry into the catering business very difficult. They were blessed when Hope Woods Senior Community in Kalamazoo approached them with a proposal: access to the center’s commercial kitchen if they would provide meals for residents Monday through Friday. This helped them build a client base, along with participating in festivals. Catering continues to be a big part of their business with much of it being for the business sector.
In 2013, they were able to purchase a building in Mattawan and opened the first Garden Griddle on December 12. Not only have they gained a following there, they were awarded the 2014 New Business of the Year tribute by the State of Michigan.
They pride themselves on providing “farm fresh to table” meals. Sarah indicated that while each location seems to have its own best sellers, the reuben, French toast sandwich and build your own cheeseburgers seem to be popular in both locations. For those looking for a vegetarian meal, she recommends the grilled cauliflower sandwich. They also offer gluten-free options, including bread from Free Love Bakery, a new incubator business she has been working with. She pointed out that all their meats are oven-roasted or smoked and shaved on-site; you’ll find no deli meats in their sandwiches. Soups and deserts are created from scratch. When in season, they do most of their shopping at the local Farmers’ Markets. To expand on their efforts to provide food fresh from the farm to the table, this year they will be planting one acre of their own vegetables for use in their catering and restaurants.
On my visit, I found the staff quick to greet us and explain the menu options. Mother-in-law Bonnie chose the reuben and I decided to give the French toast sandwich a try. Dipped in maple syrup, the sandwich was certainly over the top—both in flavor and probably on my bathroom scales as well! Bacon, ham and Swiss cheese were sandwiched between home-made sour dough bread and grilled—yum! We didn’t save any room for dessert. Sarah says her carrot cake and chocolate cakes are the most requested.
While everyone helps with catering, for the most part you will find Janice at the Mattawan location with Sarah’s husband Zach, and Sarah at the Schoolcraft location. They hire about 20 regular employees and have several additional on-call workers for catering events. Starting May 8 and every other Friday thereafter, Olde Mill and The Garden Griddle will be hosting a 9 & Dine couples event. Tee times start at 6 p.m. and the cost will be $35 per person. The first night’s meal is slated to include prime rib. Make a point to check out this nice new facility with a nice variety of great home-made specialties. It’s clear that they put their heart and soul into their work.