Staymaker offers small-batch, artisan fare

Published 12:16 pm Friday, November 6, 2015

Leader photo/M.D. Cunningham

Leader photo/M.D. Cunningham

THREE OAKS, Mich. — Walking into Staymaker, the new restaurant at Journeyman Distillery, in Three Oaks, Mich. is a bit like walking into Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

The full-service restaurant has seating for 125 people, and many of those seats have a view of the expanded production facility that includes a massive liquor still that is five times the size of the original. In order to accommodate the large equipment, sections of flooring were removed, which provides an exciting and open view. Once production begins, diners will be able to get a direct view of the distillery at work.

Since its start in 2011, Journeyman has captivated people across the area with its craft and kosher certified spirits. Their location at the historic Featherbone Factory, where corsets and buggy whips were manufactured, was the source of the new restaurant’s name. A staymaker is someone who made corsets—and it also appears on the beverage menu as a cocktail comprised of rosemary infused whiskey, acorn squash syrup, orange rind and soda.

“People have long told us of the need for a full-service restaurant here at the distillery,” said owner Bill Welter. “With production currently at capacity on our original still, we immediately jumped at the opportunity when the northern half of building became available last year. Using the space as both a way to add expanded dining options and more production capacity just made sense.”

Chef Luke Caenepeel said he is excited about the new menu, which is much more expansive than previous limited options at Journeyman. An emphasis on local ingredients through partnerships with farms in Michigan and Indiana, and using the distillery’s spirits in many of the dishes themselves, unites the fare.

Welter’s wife, Johanna, who can typically be found working alongside other staff decked out in Saturday’s best and blacksmith aprons, described herself as a “simple girl who likes a good burger.”

With roots near Detroit, she also was linked to the Detroit-style pizzas that have a deep dish crust made from the same grain that goes into the distillery’s rye whiskey and bourbon.

“Just like our spirits, the food is small-batch and artisanal,” Caenepeel said.

Limited portions of the menu are also available in the distillery’s tasting room, and Caenepeel noted that many vegetarian options can be found on the menu, too.

Another new addition to Journeyman is an event space for weddings and corporate events. Updated details and vintage ones combine for a unique space that offers panoramic views of the beautifully pastoral surround area. At sunset the backdrop of the space seems taken straight from the canvass of a painted landscape. In the first three and half weeks, eight weddings have already taken place.

Staymaker had its grand opening on Halloween, and is officially open to all.