Farm-to-table restaurants sprout in Frankenmuth –


FRANKENMUTH, MI — Move over, fried chicken: Farm-to-table restaurants are bringing locally-sourced produce and organic fare to Frankenmuth's Main Street.
The Dig Cafe and Honey B's Eatery are now open in Michigan's Little Bavaria and drawing in guests for breakfast, lunch and brunch with dishes like bone broth bowls, stacks of homemade pancakes drizzled in maple syrup and old-world waffles served alongside cold-pressed juices.
The owners of both restaurants recently spoke to MLive about the inspiration behind their menus, the process of lining up vendors and farmers and the reaction they've seen from diners stepping outside the traditional German fare and into their restaurants to sample farm-to-table dishes.
First course: Honey B's
Honey B's Eatery, a farm to table restaurant, recently opened in Frankenmuth.
At Honey B's, 525 S. Main St., sustainable agriculture is not just an idea, but a commitment by owner Emilie Baker and her team to complete the circle of farm-to-table dining by connecting with local producers and traveling outside of the region to cultivate new relationships.
"We want to make sure we don't leave behind our philosophy, that's number one. Our guests and sustainable agriculture," Baker said during an interview at the restaurant.
The 37-year-old Frankenmuth native worked in restaurants in Chicago, New York and North Carolina before moving back to her hometown two years ago with a dream of cooking up a farm-to-table breakfast eatery.
The restaurant seats about 35 people inside, with an additional 24 seats outside on the patio that looks out on Frankenmuth's Main Street.
A chalkboard sign hanging over a row of cookbooks notes some of the restaurant's farm partners, who provide everything from coffee to blueberries to spicy chorizo sausage and eggs that Baker said underlines the priority of quality at Honey B's.
All dishes are made from scratch, such as the eggs Benedict-inspired Penny Benny for $8 and the savory dill waffle topped with smoked salmon and cream cheese known as the Lola Lox for $10. Breakfast sandwiches cost about $8, and the menu is rounded out by kid's meals and daily specials like the quinoa and cauliflower hash.
Baker is particularly proud of the pancakes, either buttermilk or gluten-free, that are served in stacks of four with maple syrups from Michigan trees, powdered sugar and blueberries and raspberries.
"When you eat it, it's like cake and then they melt in your mouth," Baker said.
An unconventional item on the menu is traditional bone broth bowls, which Baker said could develop into different soups and will be back on the menu in the fall after the dog days of summer are over.
She and her team have also been testing out how to keep produce year-round through preservation methods like canning and freezing vegetables and fruits that are coming into season and trying their hand at herb-infused simple syrups for use in cocktails when a liquor license is eventually procured.
One of the hardest items to source for Honey B's was pork for use in the biscuits and gravy before a suitable option was found from Jake's Country Meats in southwest Michigan.
It took about a year to curate a list of vendors and food producers to provide for the base of Honey B's menu, and Baker is still seeking additional vendors to shore up her supply.
"We're still searching, we're still driving to the farmers markets," Baker said.
Second course: The Dig Cafe
The Dig Cafe, a health-oriented restaurant in Frankenmuth, recently opened.
Opening a restaurant is a familiar feeling for owner Lynne Parlberg, owner of The Dig Cafe, whose husband is president and chief operating officer at Zehnder's Restaurant in Frankenmuth and sons operate The Sovengard restaurant and beer garden in Grand Rapids.
Motivation to open The Dig Cafe, 975 N. Main, had been brewing for several years, fueled by Parlberg's garden and focus on healthy eating, and culminated in the opening last week in the Uptown North Main building.
"I've been dreaming about this for 10 years," Parlberg said. "Everyone is super excited that Frankenmuth has a healthy option. I knew there was something there."
The menu features hot and cold breakfast items, from a Belgian-inspired Liege waffle with preserved fruit for $5 and the Eddie parfait made with yogurt from Fluffy Bottom Farms cows in Chelsea capped with homemade granola and caramel from Weiss Farm in Frankenmuth for $6.
A recipe for garlic toast dubbed Three Boys Bread that has been in the family for 37 years also made it to the menu after Parlberg confirmed with her sons that she could share it with the public.
"I've been making that bread since they were little," she said.
On staff at The Dig Cafe are two organic farmers, who contribute some produce and their connections with other vendors like La Fattoria farm in Frankenmuth and Oliver Farms located in Michigan's Thumb area.
The Dig Cafe is working toward a zero-waste initiative, Parlberg said, with any food scraps heading out at the end of the day to local farms to feed livestock and contribute to the farm-to-table circle.
"That's very important, for me, to get to zero waste," Parlberg said.
Shiny appliances lined up in the kitchen area are used daily to create smoothies and juices, with the $7 Lemon Bomb made with Fluffy Bottom yogurt, bananas, lemon, turmeric and honey rising in popularity as locals and visitors make their way to the cafe.
While menus are written on rolls of brown scrap paper to be updated or refreshed as needed, there are some items, like The Illinois sandwich, made with turkey and Herb De Provence goat cheese that Parlberg said is a mainstay named in honor of family that live in the state south of Michigan.
Parlberg estimates about 95 percent of the cafe's menu is organic, with the remainder being non-genetically modified food items.
"We're going to be inspired by whatever's in season," she said, adding that could mean some menu tweaks as staff tries out new dishes. "Whatever sounds good to us, we're going to make it."
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