spilling the beans
Temptation in Three Oaks
Staymaker allures local food lovers
Three Oaks, Michigan, is always a favorite Michiana destination. With no shortage of local artisans, vintage treasures and genuine charm, Three Oaks is also home to Journeyman Distillery—a tribute to the homegrown, handcrafted, historic and reclaimed. Staymaker, the new full-service restaurant attached to Journeyman, is the latest addition to this family-owned enterprise.
True to the legacy of the historic Featherbone Factory, which houses the distillery and restaurant, Staymaker—an antiquated term for corset-maker—is a nod to the factory’s origins in corset production.
Owner Bill Welter and his wife, Johanna, together with Chef Luke Caenepeel, have developed a menu that is not only notable for its locally sourced ingredients but also unique in its incorporation of Journeyman spirits. For example, the Detroit-style pizzas—square, deep-dish, with delicious caramelized cheese edges—come with a choice of crusts that mimic Journeyman’s mash bills for their rye (60% rye, 40% wheat) or bourbon (70% corn, 25% wheat, 5% rye). These grains also go into their housemade pretzels and pastas (on the menu when I visited: rye cavatelli). Other Journeyman spirits likewise find their way onto Staymaker’s menu: mussels steamed in their apple cider liqueur—O.C.G. (Old Country Goodness)—house pickles and olives brined in their Bilberry Black Hearts Gin botanicals, and a compound butter made with their Silver Cross Whiskey topping the hanger steak.
The rest of the menu is full-to-bursting with other local and regional ingredients, some from just a little ways down the road (beef from Kaminski Farms and Middlebrook Farm, both in Three Oaks, for example). Produce comes from Green Spirit Farms in New Buffalo, Michigan; bison from Cook’s Bison Ranch in Wolcottville, Indiana; cheese from Reny Picot in Benton Harbor, Michigan; and a proprietary-blend coffee from Sparrow, a fair-trade, organic small-batch roaster out of Chicago.
In addition to locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, Chef Caenepeel is particularly passionate about the fact that Staymaker’s menu features a wide array of housemade items. One impressive example was the burger: Almost everything on the plate was made in-house, including the smoked-paprika fries, brioche bun, bourbon ketchup and gin pickles. (His commitment to quality, fresh ingredients truly pays off—it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had!)
Also housemade at Staymaker are their barbecue sauce, bourbon-barrel-aged maple syrup (from Dodd’s Sugar Shack in Niles, Michigan) and sausage from locally raised meats (including Gunthorp Farms in LaGrange, Indiana and Little Town Jerky Co. in Falmouth, Michigan). Chef Caenepeel even has designs on a housemade corned beef using Journeyman’s gin botanicals, barrel-aged hot sauce and in-house sauerkraut.
Although Journeyman and Staymaker are connected, they each offer unique menus as well as experiences. Staymaker, for example, boasts a draft system with an array of rotating cocktails, coffee and other beverages on tap. When I visited the restaurant, they were featuring a barrel-aged vodka martini, a Negroni Americano and nitro coffee, with plans to include horchata and chai.
You never need much of an excuse to venture to Three Oaks, but with the addition of Staymaker, you just might be tempted to stay even longer.
109 Generations Dr.
109 Generations Dr.
Three Oaks, MI