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Keego Harbor, West Bloomfield

‘It’s a food fest’

August 20, 2014

» click to enlarge «
Carvel owners Lori Gilman and Jennifer Gilman serve up chocolate and vanilla soft serve swirl ice cream during the 2009 Greater West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce’s annual Grub Crawl.
Henry Utomi, of Orchard Lake, samples garlic mashed potatoes at Outback Steakhouse during the 2009 event.

WEST BLOOMFIELD/KEEGO HARBOR — Residents in the Beacon’s coverage area are invited to explore their taste buds and experience West Bloomfield and the tri-cities through food at the annual Grub Crawl and the Taste of Keego Harbor.

In collaboration with the West Bloomfield Rotary Club, the Greater West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce will host the 10th annual Grub Crawl 5:30-9 p.m. Sept. 18. At least 13 restaurants located along Orchard Lake Road — 14 Mile Road to Pinehurst Drive — will be featured, including, but not limited to, Huerto Restaurant & Tequila Bar, Happy’s Pizza and Pub, Outback Steakhouse, Baskin Robbins, Crispelli’s, La Marsa and Peteets Cheesecake.

The Greater West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce is unique in that it is a business matchmaker, said Suzanne Levine, executive director of the chamber. The chamber strategizes with businesses to connect them with other businesses, creating a community partner, she said.

The Grub Crawl began 10 years ago when the Chamber of Commerce hosted an event at the former Henry Ford Medical Center, now Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. Restaurants set up mini kitchens in the lobby while entertainment and events were presented by school kids, according to a press release. Despite the community’s enjoyment, the county health department threatened to shut down the event, and restaurants were unwilling or unable to meet the requirements of the health department. The board then decided to replace the event with the Grub Crawl.

“You can eat your way up and down Orchard Lake,” said Levine. “You can taste a little bit of everything. You don’t order off the menu. They just give you sample sizes.”

The Grub Crawl does not have a starting point, and people can choose to begin at 14 Mile and Orchard Lake roads and follow their own route. The crawl will end at Huerto Restaurant & Tequila Bar, where the Chamber of Commerce will hold a raffle for prizes, including gift cards and a Cadillac to drive for a weekend. The money raised from the Grub Crawl will go toward the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club, each of which are nonprofit organizations.

“Once you do it, you’re hooked,” Levine said. “It’s a food fest. That’s the only way that you can think about it. … It’s a great way to pig out and really not feel guilty about it.”

Tickets are $40, but instead of receiving an actual ticket, attendees will receive a T-shirt to wear the night of the crawl. To register for the event or for more information, visit or contact the Chamber of Commerce office at (248) 626-3636.

The Keego Harbor Parks and Recreation Commission will sponsor the second annual A Taste of Keego Harbor at Santia Hall 6 p.m. Sept. 19.

The Parks and Recreation Commission formerly hosted a grub crawl, but it was limited to three restaurants, according to Eleanor Girard, chairperson for the event. Last year, Parks and Recreation switched to A Taste of Keego, where restaurants set up tables at Santia Hall.

Girard said that for the 2013 event, tickets were slowly selling, causing her to worry. But when people started arriving at the hall, she “was on cloud nine.”  In total, over 150 attended last year, and the auction raised about $600.

“It’s the biggest event we ever had,” she said.

So far, 16 restaurants have signed up for the Taste of Keego Harbor, but Girard said she doesn’t give up and would like to add more restaurants. A Taste of Keego Harbor will feature appetizers, main dishes and desserts from restaurants including, but not limited to, Bachelor’s One, Bosko’s Coffee & Kitchen, Gino’s Restaurant, The Lodge, Orchard Grille and Paradise Cakes.

Keeping with the Keego Harbor theme, tables will be dressed in Keego Harbor colors, and the Parks and Recreation Commission will be wearing green shirts with the city’s logo so attendees can spot them if assistance is needed.

“We want people to be able to advertise their restaurants, and that’s what it’s all about. We want people to do better and advertise their bars,” Girard said.

A Taste of Keego Harbor will also feature a silent auction, which will include handmade home decor and gift cards for local businesses. The money raised from the silent auction goes toward the Parks and Recreation Commission to use for future events.

Tickets cost $20 per person and are available at Keego Harbor City Hall and Gino’s Restaurant until Sept. 18. For more information, contact Keego Harbor City Hall at (248) 682-1930. Santia Hall is located at 1999 Cass Lake Road in Keego Harbor.

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