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Grand Hotel to manage Mackinac Island’s Village Inn Restaurant

Grand Hotel to manage Mackinac Island’s Village Inn Restaurant

Official Press Release:

MACKINAC ISLAND, MI—Grand Hotel and Dennis Cawthorne, owner of the Village Inn restaurant on Mackinac Island, have signed an agreement for the hotel to manage and operate the restaurant, effective Nov. 1.

The restaurant has been owned by Cawthorne and his wife, Cynthia, since they built and opened it on a vacant lot on Hoban Street in the island’s downtown in 1981.   It will be renamed Cawthorne’s Village Inn – a Grand Hotel Restaurant.

“From our perspective, this is an ideal marriage of what has been a traditional island hospitality spot for 30 years with the expertise and high standards of quality and attention to detail for which Grand Hotel is known around the world,” Cawthorne said.  “We wanted to make sure we found a manager who appreciates and understands the tradition of both our restaurant and Mackinac Island and, of course, no one understands tradition and the island more than the Musser family and the staff at Grand Hotel.  We are looking forward to a very successful relationship with one of Michigan’s iconic companies.”

Grand Hotel President R. D. Musser III said the hotel “will maintain the spirit and atmosphere for which the Village Inn is known, including some of their signature menu items such as their planked whitefish.  At the same time, we plan to develop a menu featuring more Michigan products and with organic selections.”

One item that will be added to the menu will be cherry pie made from the recipe Cynthia Cawthorne’s Aunt Marge Peterson used in 1947 to win the national cherry pie baking contest.  Mrs. Peterson presented one of her pies to President Harry Truman at a White House ceremony.

“Cherry pie and our traditional pecan ball will be the featured deserts,” Musser said.

Musser said the restaurant will close for renovations Nov. 1 and then reopen Dec. 1, the day before the island’s annual Christmas Bazaar.

Cawthorne has been a part of Mackinac Island since 1960, when he went to the island as a college student to take a summer job driving carriages.

“By mutual agreement with the carriage company we decided I would be a better greeter and loader than carriage driver,” Cawthorne said.  “But I was hooked on the island and have been involved in it continually ever since.”

Cawthorne’s next island job involved running the Island Chamber of Commerce during summers as a Harvard Law School student from 1962-65.

By appointment of the governor, he has been a member of the Mackinac Island Park Commission since 1991 and currently serves as chairman of the commission, a position he has held for more than 17 of the 20 years he has been a member.  Cawthorne also is a partner with former Attorney General Frank J. Kelley in the Lansing law firm of Kelley Cawthorne.  He also is a former member of the Michigan Legislature, having retired in 1979 after serving as the Republican Leader in the House.

Musser said Cawthorne’s Village Inn – a Grand Hotel Restaurant will be the fifth restaurant the hotel operates on the island separate from the hotel facility.  The others are The Jockey Club at the Grand Stand, located on the first tee of the golf course across Cadotte Avenue from the hotel; the Gate House, located down the hill from the hotel; Woods, located in the center of the island, and the Tea Room at historic Fort Mackinac.


14 thoughts on “Grand Hotel to manage Mackinac Island’s Village Inn Restaurant

  1. Carol R says:

    OH No! That will certainly mean higher prices, our favorite menu selections will vanish (fish & chips, fettucini, pasties) will be replaced by entries we cannot even prounounce let alone tell what it contains. I fear the VI will never be the same. The truly homecooking style of it’s “specials” were the only to be had on this island. Breakfasts were superb. Improvement and change is not always a good thing.

  2. Donna Riley says:

    This seems like a good thing. Wil this be an option for meals while being a guest at the Grand?

    1. grandhblog says:

      That has not been determined as of yet Donna. We will definitely let you know!

  3. Gail says:

    Interesting! When I worked on the Island that was nothing but a field.
    I have a picture of my roommate & I (we were working at the Lakeview in 1958) on the very spot.

  4. Irene Rickley says:

    Wondering of the Sault Tribe Elders meal coupons are still going to be accepted there?

    1. grandhblog says:

      The coupons will still be accepted Irene.

  5. Roger Priebe says:

    Will it still be open year-round?

    1. grandhblog says:

      It will still be open year round Roger.

  6. T. Keim says:

    Fabulous. We will be enjoying an extended stay at the Grand next summer and Cawthorne’s Village Inn will be a wonderful addition to our dining repertoire.

  7. Freda says:

    I think these changes are great and I know the new VI will be first rate just like the hotel. Please keep us updated this winter on things that are going on at the Grand Hotel. I just love hearing all that is going on.

    1. grandhblog says:

      Thank you Freda. We are excited as well about this new venture at the VI. We will do our best to keep you up to date on winter happenings on Mackinac.

  8. Jacquie Larner says:

    As soon as I heard the news of Grand Hotel becoming manager of the Village Inn I was excited. We love to breakfast there when we get to the island in the morning. I have no doubt that it will maintain it’s own image. I’m sure the Grand touches will be subtle, but who wouldn’t want cherry pie and a grand pecan ball????? I know this news will cement my decision to attend the Christmas bazaar in December. My plans will include lunch and shopping at the community center, dinner at VI… dessert and coffee, then breakfast Tuesday morning, bring on the snow, I’m ready to get in the Christmas spirit. The island is a good place to start!!!

  9. Barbara says:

    I hope the village Inn wont lose its casual charm,and great menu items due to the change! loved the odd hours ,so could go there about anytime for a wonderful meal,at great prices! PLEASE keep the whiefish chowder and the Planked whitefish platter–at the price of $22.00 dollars it was amazing! love all the grand hotel restaurants tho-good luck!!!

    1. grandhblog says:

      The VI has not lost it’s charm or the Planked Whitefish Barbara. Our winter menu is online now and the summer season menu will be posted as soon as it is available. We hope you will visit this summer and check it out for yourself.

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