Michigan certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to fantastic restaurants. No matter what you’re craving, you’re sure to find it here in the Great Lakes State. But while our current restaurant selection is fantastic, there are plenty of long-gone eateries throughout the area that we miss when hunger strikes. Here are nine now-defunct restaurants in Michigan that make us long for the past.
1. Bill Knapp’s
Of course, we had to start off this list with Bill Knapp’s. Headquartered in the Michigan town of Saline, this regional chain was founded in 1948 and ultimately grew to include over 60 locations. With a wide variety of family dining selections and those famous chocolate cakes, Bill Knapp’s was a classic spot for hungry patrons of all ages. The last location closed its doors in 2002.
2. Coach Insignia
Located on 72nd floor of Detroit’s Renaissance Center, this fine-dining restaurant closed its doors less than a year ago — but we’re still wishing we could head up and enjoy that view one last time! Serving up steak, wine, and all sorts of delightful dishes, Coach Insignia was the place to be for a date night or special event. Luckily, the owners of Coach Insignia have opened a new eatery in Southfield: The Nomad Grill.
3. Howard Johnson’s
While Howard Johnson hotels are still alive and well, Howard Johnson’s restaurants are a long-gone relic of America's past. This unique eatery truly established the foundation for modern chain restaurants throughout the country, peaking in business during the 1960s. Does your mouth still water when you think of that famous orange roof?
4. Oyster Haven
Tucked away at the corner of Michigan and Fuller in Grand Rapids, Oyster Haven once drew in hungry diners with all sorts of delicious seafood options. Whether you opted for crab, shrimp, or — of course — oysters, this spot was beloved by many Grand Rapids residents. Sadly, the eatery is no more.
5. Sveden House Smorgasbord
When you were looking to indulge without too much emphasis on healthy eating, Sveden House was the place to be. This chain of buffets could be found throughout the Midwest, but many Michiganders might recall visiting its locations in Holland, Bay City, or Lansing. It was pretty much impossible to leave Sveden House without a stomachache due solely to overeating.
6. Mr. Fables
West Michigan residents will surely remember Mr. Fables, a small chain of cafeteria-inspired eateries located throughout the region. Founded in 1929, Mr. Fables was known for its "secret dressing" and delicious burgers, which drew in diners at its 17 locations until the company’s demise in 2000.
7. The Regent Cafe
Family-owned restaurants didn’t get much more authentic than Jackson’s Regent Cafe, which charmed diners throughout its 40 years of service. With fresh ingredients, a noticeably neat interior, and all sorts of tasty dishes (does anyone remember the "Friday Special?"), the Regent Cafe was at the very heart of its community until it closed its doors in 1966. Though it’s been gone for decades, older Michiganders still have fond memories of this special spot.
8. The Pour House
Do you remember stopping in for a bite to eat and a few drinks at the Pour House in Lansing? Established in the 1960s, this fixture served up working people and other locals until its closing in the early 1990s. After a long day on the job, nothing beat a pint of beer and a trip to the taco bar at this well-missed eatery. Lansing’s Fireside Grill now sits in the former location of the Pour House.
9. Gibbs Country House Restaurant
If you live in the Ludington area, you might remember dining at Gibbs Country Restaurant. Diners look back fondly at Gibbs, which first opened in 1947, for its friendly service and welcoming atmosphere. Despite its tasty food, variety of cocktails, and a cozy interior, this locale struggled to draw in visitors during off-season months and ultimately closed its doors in 2001.
We know this is only a small sampling of Michigan’s most beloved former restaurants, so we’d like to hear from you! Are there any favorite eateries here in the Great Lakes State that you wish you could dine at just one last time? Share your thoughts and memories in the comment section below.