BY MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — LELAND — The owners of Stone House Cafe, a landmark eatery for the past 18 years in Leland, have announced the restaurant will close its doors.
Owner Tonie Spearing closed the café today and ended its nearly two-decade presence on Main Street in downtown Leland.
Cris and Kathy Telgard often stopped at Stone House Café on Sundays to enjoy fresh scones.
But this Sunday the couple will have to settle for Stone House Bread from the nearby Leland Mercantile.
“I really am sorry to see it go,” said Cris Telgard, co-owner with his wife of Tampico Imports a few blocks away. “We loved having it there when Bob Pisor started the bakery and doing all his bread there. Then, when the bakery moved to Traverse City and new owners bought it, they did a good job with the café. It was a real civil place to get coffee or get a lunch. They had wonderful bread and baked things. I think everybody will miss it.”
Spearing said she closed the café in order to concentrate on the growth of the bakery, which supplies bread to stores throughout Michigan.
“We need to focus on our core business and ours is making breads for grocery stores, not the restaurant business,” she said.
Spearing and three partners bought Stone House Bread about six years ago from Pisor, a downstate newsman who introduced the artisan bread in 1995. After the bakery moved its operations to Traverse City, the Leland café continued as a way to showcase its breads in breakfast and lunch menus. For a short time the bread company also operated a bakery in downtown Traverse City. Popular items included panini sandwiches, cherry walnut French toast and pastries like scones and cinnamon rolls.
Spearing said she took down the café sign and informed the restaurant’s five full- and part-time employees of the closure Wednesday night.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said, after breaking the news to her employees. “I just got home from work and I’m still sad. But I do also feel it’s for the best for the business. It’s so important that we focus on the growth of the bakery. The whole reason for closing the café is because we’re doing so well on wholesale side of things. We went from making 600 rolls to 6,000 rolls. We’ve grown into different stores like Meijer stores and Spartan stores.
“As much as it was cool to have the café there and the historic part of it, we have to channel energy and resources on the profitable side.”
Spearing said she offered café employees the opportunity to explore employment at bakery on Switch Street in Traverse City. The company has about 50 employees, she said.