KINGSLEY — Casting his lot in Grand Traverse County worked so well the first time, Larry Bunge is ready to double down.

After opening a third Cast Iron Kitchen restaurant in the Chum’s Corner area last summer, Bunge is ready to bring a fourth to Kingsley this spring.

Bunge recently signed a lease to open a restaurant at 413 W. Main St. in Kingsley. The building was the former site of the J. Wall Diner.

It’s a return to Kingsley for Bunge, who grew up in the area and formerly worked at PJ’s Pizza Factory and Restaurant near the intersection of North Brownson Avenue and West Main Street “in the mid- to late 1990s.”

“I’m going to love it,” Bunge said Tuesday afternoon. “I cooked in that town when I was young.”

When Brian McAllister, Laurie Bouwman and son Max McAllister set to reopen The Kingsley Inn at 211 E. Main St. on Feb. 17, the Grand Traverse County village is about to get two sit-down restaurants to go with two pizza places and a Subway.

“It will be cool to have another restaurant in that town,” Bunge said. “All my life there’s been at least one restaurant in that town and they’ve gone a while without any.

“I think it will be be good. It’s kind of needed. I’m getting a lot of positive feedback already.”

Bunge said he is targeting a May opening for the restaurant in Kingsley, which, he said, will start with breakfast and lunch service.

“Unless something crazy happens, it’ll be the first of May,” said Bunge, who said he signed a three-year lease “with an option after that” on the building. “It’s a beautiful place inside. It’s nice and clean and won’t take a lot of work.”

Terry Beia, the managing member of Southtown Property Management, LLC, which owns the building, said in a text message that Cast Iron Kitchen will be a “good fit for Kingsley.”

Bunge said Cast Iron Kitchen in Kingsley should be a nice complement to the Kingsley Inn and said Brian McAllister “does an excellent job.”

Bunge and his late mother, Nancy Whaley, who died May 31, 2020 after a 2½-year battle with cancer, opened the Cast Iron Kitchen at 110 W. Main St. in Manton on Aug. 28, 2016.

Bunge later opened a second Cast Iron Kitchen at 621 S. Mitchell St. in Cadillac on June 28, 2021. The Cadillac restaurant is popularly known as the longtime location of the Ponderosa Steakhouse.

Cast Iron Kitchen made its Grand Traverse County debut in July 2022 at 273 U.S. 31. Bunge executed the first of two five-year leases June 8, 2022 for the restaurant, most recently the home of McGee’s 31.

“That is going really, really well,” Bunge said of Cast Iron Kitchen of TC South.

When Bunge announced he was going to open the Traverse City restaurant in late June, Bunge said he was following “the model that we know” by serving up meals at a great price.

Now he’s ready to do it again and returning once more to a Kingsley kitchen.

“I think it’ll be great for that town,” Bunge said. “They’ve gone a long time without having that. Every town needs that, especially a small town because it’s also a gathering place.”

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