Hemingway Haunts: City Park Grill
Seated on the southeast shore of the Little Traverse Bay sits the small town of Petoskey, Michigan. If you were to use your hand as a map, as does any civilized Michigander, Petoskey can be found in the northwest, or near the ring-finger. For my recent visit, I used google maps.
Petoskey resembles many smaller lakeside towns. Hours away from any metropolitan hub, its pace is slow, its mood polite and its style casual. There’s a main street filled with typical crafty fare, the local inn or two and of course several establishments to take a drink.
Between 1910 and 1920, the Hemingway family spent their summers in Petoskey. It’s said, Ernest and friend even made the 400-mile trek from their Oak Park, Illinois home on foot a time or two. While in Petoskey, City Park Grill would play host as the neighborhood local, where a young Papa spent afternoons huddled over a drink and journal. During my most recent trip to wolverine state, I paid a visit to the former Hemingway haunt for a beer & burger.
Originally known as the Annex, the building that now houses the City Park Grill dates back to 1875 and has seen little change since Papa’s last visit. Most of the bar-side interiors remain as they were pre-prohibition, straight forward and simple, with a few minor face lifts. Tin covers the walls and ceiling, oak, mahogany and redwood make up the back bar, with a single piece of appropriately scarred 35-foot oak seated on the bar top. Above it all, a portrait of Papa.
With his appetite for a drink, there’s no shortage of old Hemingway haunts. Most are either defunct or reside in larger cities and are typically a shell of what they were. Uncrowded, remote and intact, City Park grill may be an exception.