Leelanau News and Events

Hall’s Greenhouse, Harbinger Of The Growing Season, Turns 70 (Plus More Major Leelanau Milestones!)

By Emily Tyra | April 29, 2022

Hall’s Greenhouse on Carter Road in Elmwood Township opens tomorrow, April 30, for its 70th year. The Leelanau Ticker checks in with Nick and Allison Hall, the third-generation owners, to celebrate a big birthday for this and other Leelanau landmarks.

It’s warm, earthy, and fragrant inside the main Hall family greenhouse, with flowers and vegetable starters they started from seed looking healthy, happy, and ready for their big debut tomorrow.

This is a real “spring start-style greenhouse,” Nick Hall (pictured) says, of the many locals who flock to Hall’s to begin their backyard gardens. “We’ve been growing plants and vegetables from seed since the end of February. Flowers and veggies run the gamut. We do geraniums, petunias, begonias, impatiens, and hanging baskets.” They grow 60 percent of the plants themselves, and augment with stock from local wholesalers.

“Right now is the most frantic. If I had any hair, it would be falling out,” Hall says with a laugh, of the behind-the-scenes cadence of the seasonal operation he bought from his parents Joel and Kathryn Hall. They ran it for 30 years. Nick’s grandpa Harry Hall ran it with wife Isabel for 30 years before that.

Says Hall, “This has been a dream of ours for even longer than ten years ago. That is when Allison and I took it over. We still have customers who tell me stories about my grandpa and my dad. Some people mistake me for my dad, which is good…for him.”

Hall was seven years old when his family moved to Carter Road and took over the greenhouse. Eventually, he started learning the ropes alongside his brother, screening dirt and filling pots and keeping the two woodstoves that warmed the greenhouse both stocked and stoked. After, he’d ride his bike to nearby West Bay to go snorkeling.

“This greenhouse we’re standing in is 140 years old. It was built down in Saginaw and was moved up here and was actually on Front Street where Burritt’s Market is, years ago. My grandpa bought it and moved it here.”

Besides being greenhouse growers, Nick Hall is a brewer at Lake Ann Brewing Co. and Allison Hall is a teacher at TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis. The two run the show with the help of their two sets of twins, Hank and Elvis, 17, and Betty and Roxy, 11.

Plant sales run to about mid-June. That’s when Nick Hall carries on the same tradition that he experienced growing up: The last day of the season, the Hall kids take care of all business, and get to pocket the profits. “On this day, Allison and I sit back, and crack a beer, they are the ones helping the customers and loading the cars. People love that day.”

Across the peninsula, Glen Arbor Bed & Breakfast opens today, Friday April 29, for its 150th season. Innkeeper Laura Cavender says the big inn on Western Avenue in the heart of Glen Arbor was originally constructed in 1872 as a boarding house for loggers. “Can you picture loggers sitting around the breakfast table in 1872?” she asks, adding “upstairs there were once two long bunkrooms.”

Cavender says the inn has been a central hub since its beginning, as “many people in the logging industry were housed here and would get dinner and breakfast here. Even in early days we needed solutions for workforce housing.”

During its long tenure in town, the inn belonged to Glen Arbor’s Andresen family, who ran it as a guest inn and hosted chicken dinners on the porch of their restaurant, the Kum-n-Dyne. Kids from the schoolhouse would head there daily for their lunches. It became a bed & breakfast in 1991. Current co-owners and stewards Larry & Patricia Widmayer invested in and refurbished the inn 22 years ago with their close friends Gary and Margaret Valade.

Before she settled down as an innkeeper, Cavender was out on the Great Lakes, Atlantic, and Pacific as a ship’s cook working on traditionally rigged sailing vessels. She says “right here in Glen Arbor, this was a maritime interstate in the 1870s and 1880s with dozens and dozens of boats coming through. This was really a frontier and a mixing pot. It went from a bigger and bustling town with industry…to now, when we get to conserve instead of harvest.”

She adds, “With any property that has history, you have the beautiful weight of responsibility. It’s our turn with it; eventually it will be someone else’s turn with it; and for so many guests, they get their turn to experience it. People were born here, married here, couples were engaged here…”

More milestones: The Riverside Inn in Leland welcomed guests back for the 120th season this April. With The Riv’s refresh under new ownership — and newcomer Northern Michigan hospitality group Fernhaus at the helm — the 2022 season has started much as it has for over a century. The inn keeps its timeless style gently spiked with modern nods, and new executive chef Chris Rutkowski and the culinary team dedicate their menus to Northern Michigan agriculture.

Skip Telgard shares with the Leelanau Ticker that the Bluebird Restaurant & Tavern in Leland is in “our 95th year, same location, same family.” It was started by boat builder Martin Telgard and wife Leone in 1927 as a small sandwich and soda shop and has remained in the family since. If you ever had a fresh whitefish dinner, Bluebird-style, with a Bluebird salad bar classic, “peas & peanuts,” you’ve experienced one of the more sublime moments of Leelanau life. Stay tuned on social media for announcements on the 2022 season.

Hold onto your pretzel bread, Village Cheese Shanty fans: the now-iconic sandwiches celebrate their silver anniversary this summer. The Village Cheese Shanty has been operating for well over 45 years, but it was after Eloise Telgard Fahs sold her cheese shop and bakery business to Dave Kareck that the salty-sweet, Fishtown-originated pretzel bread become a siren song for so many.

Kareck began experimenting with sandwich options on the spot — in a shanty that former Janice Sue tug captain Louis Steffens originally built for his fishing operations. That was 25 years ago. He started with pita sandwiches, but “one day I made 12 loaves of the pretzel dough,” says Kareck. He put it out as a special and it was gone in an hour. “I was told by a fellow shop owner how good it was. So, the next day I made 24. Gone. Then 36, then 48. The rest is history.”

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