Those with an appetite for newly creative dining experiences offering a varied array of quality cuisine in a tastefully pleasing family atmosphere are in for a rare treat at the newly opened Creek Grill, located at 1259 S. Poseyville Rd. in Midland, two-and-a-half miles south of Dow Diamond.
Owned by David and Kathryn Dean at the site of the former Four Jas restaurant, The Creek Grill strives to fill a blend of niches that range from offering quality dining at affordable prices, engaging live jazz, duo, and musical entertainment Thursdays through Saturdays, plus an upscale family friendly Sports Bar with several Hi-Def televisions for watching games, and a volleyball court in the back for those blessed warmer days of Michigan’s Spring & Summer.
The Creek Grill is the culmination of a lifelong dream for Dean, who is a Bullock Creek native that upon graduation with an MBA from banking at Wayne State University went to work for Comerica for six years. After returning to Midland to work as the CFO for a trucking company in Saginaw for 15 years, Dean took a buy-out and went on to manage the Bay City Country Club for two years from 2008 to 2010.
“I live on this side of town and knew that Bullock Creek needed a good restaurant and a solid upscale sports bar that was community focused,” explains Dean. “I’ve managed hundreds of people so knew it wouldn’t be bad managing 20 or 30, plus I knew that I didn’t want to work for anybody else.”
In terms of what he feels distinguishes The Creek and the niches that he is striving to fill, Dean is candid and straightforward. “Bay City and Saginaw have a fair amount of smaller family owned restaurants, but Midland really doesn’t. So my niche and goals center on providing extremely good food at an affordable price with a recreational atmosphere. I want to offer upscale ambiance without being stuffy and serve top notch cuisine at a truly affordable price.”
To this end since his opening, Dean and company has solidly achieved their goal. Last Valentine’s Day I experienced their Valentine Special, which consisted of properly constructed and fresh Oysters Rockefeller, large fresh Alaskan lobster tails, King Crab legs, shrimp, sautéed red potatoes, plus a carefully crafted dessert served with a red rose for the ladies at the unbelievable price of only $40.00 per couple.
In a nutshell, such quality and caliber of food at such an amazing price is unheard of in this day and age. So how does Dean do it?
“I buy all my groceries and work with the vendors,” he explains. “We serve a lot of good seafood and I’ve found that flash frozen seafood is usually better quality than trying to ship seafood fresh. Plus the chain and a lot of the upscale restaurants simply are not going to pass whatever savings they realize onto the customer. If they save 10% on an item, they’ll still charge a high price for it. My goal is to build a solid client base and make money the old fashioned way. I want to attract customers through excellent food, keep my overhead low, and cultivate a significant volume.”
Another popular item on their menu is the Surf & Turf, which Dean offers at $12.95 and will sell four or five dozen of on any given Friday night. “In most upscale restaurants, for the quality of food that we serve, people would pay $24.00 to $30.00 for something similar. I could charge that, but I would rather sell 40 of them instead of a dozen.”
Dean develops a seasonal menu along with Chef Dan James, the former Executive Chef at Molly’s, who came on-board in April of last year. “Dan is a pivotal person in our operation and we designed our menu together. For lunch we have everything from sandwiches to burgers to pastas and all our dishes are homemade, utilizing choice meats and seafood.”
“I try to stay with a stable menu, but we will make a few changes three or four times during the year, just to keep the menu interesting. Plus we offer different specials every night.”
Another commitment Dean & company has made is to showcasing live local music. “My vision was to offer a sports bar with great food and entertainment,” explains Dean. “What I learned from my time at the Bay City Country Club is that in today’s economy, people have some disposable income, but not that many places to spend it. So the differentiation comes from being a sports bar with upscale food and entertainment that is appropriate for the size of our establishment.”
“We bring in artists like Empty Pockets, Honesty & the Liars, Brett Mitchell and Myk Rise. If people want to have some good food, enjoy some music, watch sports, or let the kids play volleyball in the back, then I’m doing something different. If I don’t make a commitment to that, then I’m nothing more than a restaurant or a bar. I’m not interested in traditional bar food or staying open until 2 AM.”
“Right now the economy makes it challenging for all restaurants,” continues Dean. “There’s a lot of unemployed people out there and everybody is chasing the dollar. Food costs are going up. So the most challenging thing is to manage food costs and attract customers with a product they want to come back to experience.”
“Honestly, the most worthwhile and gratifying thing for me is to have a customer tell me they just experienced the best meal they ever had. And you can see it on their faces.”
Dean says the most popular items on his menu for lunch center around the Club Sandwich, the Reuben, and the burgers, especially the Maui Burger and the Bullock Creek House Burger.
Popular dinner items include the surf & turf, perch platters (“People in the Great Lakes Bay like perch, what can you say?” laughs Dean) and as with everything on their menu – you guessed it – the price is eminently affordable.
If you’re into Ribs & Wings, they are smoked at The Creek for six to eight hours each day. And for Easter, a special menu of Prime Rib, Cooked Ham, and more will be featured on their special holiday menu.
If you’ve yet to experience the tasteful, intoxicating, memorable, and affordable delights offered at The Creek Grill, do yourself and the taste buds of your family a huge favor and check them out.
As their motto aptly puts it: Good Times Flow at The Creek!