Devils Lake is wide-awake after a long, hard winter and the star of the popular summer retreat is a 19-year-old entrepreneur who is selling a taste of summer in several flavors.
Jennifer Gleckler is the proud owner of Jenni’s Coffee and Cream at Manitou Beach, a revitalized neighborhood at the lake in the Irish Hills of southern Michigan. She opened the shop two weeks ago to a welcoming core of customers, many who remember the golden days at Manitou and the ice cream shop that was nearly in the same spot, or so they want to believe.
Jenni’s is the fourth business in the small retail hub that includes Devils Lake View Living and the Buoy, two upscale gift stores, and the Manitou Grill, a longtime restaurant that was rebuilt two years ago after a fire destroyed the original.
To those add the Manitou Farmer’s Market that will be held there every Saturday morning.
Hopefully, market customers will want to polish off their shopping with ice cream, a cookie, a cup of flavored coffee, or a panini at Jenni’s. That’s what she was pondering the Friday night before market day.
“I’m a little nervous about it,” she said.
A graduate of Addison High School, Jenni believes her dream since childhood to have her own business was inspired by her parents who have their own business. The youngest of six children, she is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Don Gleckler, Devils Lake, who own H and R Block offices in Hudson, Jonesville, and Sturgis, Mich.
A two-year course in entrepreneurship at Baker College in Jackson, Mich., prepared her for the business world. In addition to planning the menu, prices, hours, and the hiring of employees, she had a say-so in the interior layout.
At first, she said, it was planned to have seating upstairs in the tower of the building. “But I decided the traffic would be too congested and that the stairway could be hazardous, “ she said. Jenni also had to decide on which equipment would best suit her needs, including the panini appliance and the machine that blends the flavored coffees.
Jenni decided on Mackinaw Island ice cream with flavors that include Black Swamp Raspberry Cheesecake, Gitchigoomi Bear Nuggets, and Raspberry Cheesecake, which so far has proved to be the most popular.
The crab-bacon panini is Jenni’s favorite. “No, it’s not packaged, we make it here,” she said, when she was asked if she was using commercial panini fillings.
Historical and current photos from the collection of Dan Cherry, Devils Lake historian, will soon be added to the walls. A photo of the original ice cream shop should please old timers.
Mr. Cherry’s current literary subject is the 1963 tornado that destroyed a considerable swath of commercial buildings and cottages at the lake.
Jenni’s plans are to be open year-round. The hours are: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 8 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
For the Birds
Later in the season friends of Chef Maximilian Korl will know where to go for tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers that he enjoys giving away as much as he does growing them.
In the meantime the birds are enjoying his homemade food that he says goes much faster than the commercial kinds that he occasionally buys.
“My customers like it here,” he said.
It seems that the retired chef, best known for introducing fine dining to Toledo at the Wine Cellar at the corner of Lagrange and Summit streets, can’t stay out of the kitchen even if it’s making a batch of gourmet bird food.
And that’s exactly what he was doing the morning I stopped for coffee.
He keeps a reference book on birds handy to identify the different species that come for lunch. Warbling vireos are the best singers, he believes.
The container of orange colored liquid was prepared for orioles, he said, and was made in a four to one sugar and hot water blend. Orange gelatin is the orange coloring, but he warns, “Just a sprinkle or it will get firm.” Be sure to use hot water.
The more detailed production over coffee that morning was suet based feed packed tight to the brim of a 12 by 18 inch baking pan.
There is no specific recipe, but he willingly shared the long list of ingredients that makes use of pantry supplies. He is also a fan of Titgemeir’s Feed and Garden Store, 701 Western Ave.
The suet is chopped in a food processor and then rendered. The cracklings from the rendering go back in the processor along with peanuts that are blended to a fine consistency.
The other ingredients that can be mixed and matched according to availability are cornmeal, breadcrumbs, sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, thistle seed, millet, cracked corn, sliced almonds, and peanut butter.
After being mixed well and packed into the baking pan, it is frozen or refrigerated to harden and cut into portions as needed.
Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.