A taste of Asia in St. Joe

Published 2:11 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Amy DeProw, manager of Tulips Asian Bistro and Metropolitan Market in St. Joseph, displays a plate of the restaurant's sushi.


Just 10 months after opening Port 412 in St. Joseph, owner John Havenaar and his business partners got the itch to start the planning process all over again.

And while their first venture had been two years in the making, their second go-round took only eight months from concept to opening.

The result is Tulips Asian Bistro and Metropolitan Market on Niles Road next to Interstate 94.

“I think me and my business partners are coming at it from the standpoint of we’re business guys who want to create the opportunity for good entertainment and good food,” Havenaar said. “We’re not looking at it as a short-term gain, we’re looking at it as an investment in the community.”

With Port 412, Havenaar and his partners wanted to redevelop a downtown St. Joseph landmark and turn it into an entertainment venue and weekend destination.

“At the Port we really focus as much on the drinks as we do on the food. At Tulips it’s really a food destination,” he said.

The vision for Tulips was a middle-market Asian restaurant and deli with influences from across the region.

“There’s a huge gap in Asian restaurants,” Havenaar said. “You’ve got your traditional family-owned local Asian places that I think are great places to go, that are smaller, usually 25 seats or so. You have a couple of those in this market that are good, and then in the larger markets you have … a pricier option that’s not in this community.”

Tulips is positioned squarely in the middle — upscale cuisine with low prices. The most expensive entree on the menu, Havenaar said, is only $13.

“Our objective was to get a menu put together that we thought we could serve quickly, that people could take out or dine in,” Havenaar said.

The menu has Asian staples like spring rolls, crab rangoons, potstickers and sushi, but also branches out into other influences.

“We’re doing a little bit of India, a little bit of China, a little bit of Korea, a little Thai and a little Japanese,” Havenaar said. “We’re trying to give in a 30- to 35-item menu, which is relatively small, a good spectrum of food.”

Tulips opened in September 2009 and its client list has been growing ever since.

“I think it was a well thought-out menu, gives you a little taste of a lot of regions from Asia, and we’re getting good response from folks,” Havenaar said.

Tulips Asian Bistro and Metropolitan Market is located at 3620 Niles Ave. in St. Joseph. Their Web site is http://www.tulipsbistro.com and their phone number for dine-in and carry out is (269) 428-8088.