Leelanau News and Events

Meet The New Owners Of Barb’s Bakery & More Northport Hospitality Buzz

By Emily Tyra | April 8, 2022

For those craving the first Barb’s cinnamon twist or Big Hot Woody pizza of the season; the return of Friday Music in the Park; or more signs of summer at the tip of Michigan’s pinkie…here is the good-time news roundup from Northport:

David and Margo Millard (pictured above with daughter Joan) are the next generation to carry on the Northport village tradition of Barb’s Bakery, a morning catch-up spot for neighbors and a destination for old-fashioned donuts for countless travelers.

The Millards, currently of Royal Oak (David is an engineer; Margo works in corporate finance for an automotive company in Detroit), closed quietly in August on the building and bakery business which had been for sale since early 2020.

Margo Millard says they made the transition with little fanfare out of “respect for Barb and Jerry Holcomb,” who operated the bakery for decades. “Barb built that business from scratch and it’s her namesake. We wanted people to know it is staying. You are still going to be able to get a donut and sit at the communal table,” Millard says, adding, “It’s such an institution, we can’t rock the boat too much, and in fact, that is why we wanted to buy it. We didn’t want it to just go away!”

David Millard, born and raised in Northport, and whose parents Joe and Laureen Millard owned another Northport classic, Grandma’s Trunk, aims to keep the morning rituals and family traditions alive for his kids and others’ kids. “I grew up on 4th Street, so literally have been to Barb’s hundreds of times,” he says. “I love it.”

David’s brother Tyler Millard, of Northport, has assumed the role of manager and baker. “He shadowed directly with Barb in the bakery on the midnight shift. It is a compliment to his work that a lot of people didn’t know we had transitioned ownership,” says Margo Millard.

The recipes came with the purchase: “Linda, our daytime manager, makes the famous cinnamon twists,” she says. Cinnamon rolls, pretzel donuts and old-fashioned varieties remain on the menu. Also staying: the taxidermy beaver, and Barb’s window display traditions. For that, the Millards have recruited David’s artist brothers, also of Northport. “That is the beauty of having a big local family.” She notes the building has potential for pop-up gallery space and an unfinished upstairs, where “we are still exploring what we can do.”

The new bakery owners and their two daughters will move to the town at the pinkie’s tip, down the line. “It’s part of the plan, we just started with the business investment,” says Millard. In a village with a population just over 500, outside guests drive most of the hospitality sector’s success, and Millard says there’s “a lot of growth, activity, and excitement in Northport right now. Our main goal is sustainable growth — growth is important, but you can’t lose sight of the local community and caring for them as well.”

After its winter break, Barb’s Bakery will reopen the first week in May. Follow on Facebook and  Instagram for the exact date.

Chef Pauli Penning’s wood-fired pizza wagon, North End Pizzeria — Home of The Big Hot Woody, parked next to the covered outdoor patio at The Mitten Brewing Co., will open for the season on April 22, but not before firing up first at Olean’s on the afternoon of April 20, for a 4/20 celebration the dispensary is co-hosting on its grounds at the edge of the village.

The recreational cannabis boutique started delivery of its products this month to all of Leelanau County and most of Grand Traverse. Owner Daniel Caudill says this will allow him to hire more staff. “We are working to make the experience as easy and convenient as possible for local residents, as we head into the busier tourist season.”

Also gearing up for the seasonal influx of visitors to Northport is Around the Corner Food & Fun, where co-owner Laura Cavendish’s food truck venture, featuring a fun-loving from-scratch menu and family entertainment will at last marry up with the brick-and-mortar building which has been in progress since 2020. The food truck is open now with outdoor seating.

Cavendish says the building at 115 S. Waukazoo St. is “onto permitting as the final steps.” It will operate alongside the food truck and house a full bar and restrooms. 

“We are taking one day at a time since we have had so much unexpected, but the absolute last date I want the building to open is Memorial Day.” Regardless, they are shooting to be open from noon to 8pm every day this summer, dependent on staffing. The food truck itself has “a super badass team of local ladies, and we are already in a better place staff-wise than we were last year this time, so I am hopeful.”

Around the Corner’s “graffiti fence” will commence this year too. “We’ll have aprons and spray paint. You pay and get the paints and goggles — basic rules like no nudity and swear words or hate speech — and paint away. It will be a living mural and always changing.” She is also expanding the on-site free family movie nights to Tuesdays and Saturdays this summer.

Meanwhile, Fridays in Northport, the place to socialize, picnic, and mingle is G.M. Dame Marina Park for Northport Performing Arts Center’s free Music in the Park events. The 2022 schedule, starting June 24, went live this week.


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