By Sue Moore
Change is coming to the restaurant that used to be The Dek and before that The Vault on W. Prairie Street in Vicksburg. New owners Jack and Jon Pearsall have purchased the property from a bank foreclosure and will open Vickers Lakeside Tavern in late May.
The father and son combination may not be from Vicksburg but they chose a name for their establishment that connects with the original settler, John Vickers. It is believed that Vickers’ original grist mill was built very close to the property on what is now Sunset Lake.
“We are excited, optimistic, positive about this investment in a beautiful lakefront space, and in a great supportive community,” Jon Pearsall said. Although he grew up in Portage and is a graduate of Northern Michigan and Michigan State universities, he has worked in Chicago as a manager and then in Kalamazoo for the Kalamazoo Flower Group as program manager. He quit that job at the end of January and is devoting full-time to getting the doors of the Vickers Tavern open as soon as possible.
Jack Pearsall, his father, moved to Portage for a job at Upjohn in the early 80s from New Jersey, where he owned several restaurants. He was working as an engineering contractor for piping installations. He would work the bar at night in his first restaurant. “I wanted to be a golf pro because I grew up on a golf course where my dad was the manager in upper New York state,” the elder Pearsall said. His second restaurant was in Mendham, N.J. near a golf course where he could play golf and work full time at the restaurant. It was sold in the middle 70s. Both father and son are scratch golfers but acknowledge they won’t have much time for the game while diving into this new business.
“The price was right for the building and its contents,” Jack said. “We see a lot of things that have to change. The entrance to the deck area allowed customers to just walk in off the street without the staff knowing they were there to dine. Our plan is to eventually enclose the patio for winter service as well as summer. We will serve bar food such as burgers, fries, pizza, salads, sandwiches and all kinds of alcohol. A tap will be reserved for Distant Whistle’s IPA beer in particular.”
A lot of cleaning, scrubbing, painting and new carpeting needs to be put down before they can open, Jack pointed out. They will install a dishwasher; there wasn’t one before. They haven’t decided what to do with the actual bank vault that opens from the dining room. They had to have a locksmith come and tinker with the combination as that didn’t get left behind. The décor will change with the idea of using photographs of Vicksburg landmarks on the walls. Entertainment will again be offered in the summer on the deck.
“We are going to give the restaurant tender, loving care. We have made a commitment. Both of us are very dedicated to making this a success,” Jack exclaimed. “Whatever is needed we will do and work full time at it. We are not absentee owners.”