Bayside Market adds meat market, bigger deli

TRAVERSE CITY – When Dan and Jan Hummel bought the Bayside Market on U.S. 31 North, the road was a two-lane highway, the market was 950 square feet, and Dan was living in a tent behind it.

That was the summer of 1981. Now, the Hummels are starting 2006 with a 1,200 square-foot addition that includes a new meat market, an expanded deli, a specialty grocery line, and even their own hot dogs.

“We’re filling a demand, a community need,” said Dan Hummel. “The east side (of town) is growing fast.”

The Hummels are clearly proud owners, and are thrilled to give their customers what they have been asking for. They are quick to point out that customer loyalty and employee longevity are responsible for the market’s continuing success.

“We’ve built this business on our customers and employees,” said Dan, adding that one employee has been with them for 20 years and customers just as long. In fact, it was one such customer who wrote a letter to The Business News hoping to share Dan’s story.

“We have a home-like atmosphere here,” Hummel added.

The market still has its original ceiling beams, antique brass lamps illuminating its wine department, and green light fixtures around the rest of the store from an old schoolhouse in Maine.

The structure was originally a house built in the 1930s, but when the Hummels purchased the business it was already operating as the Bayside Market. Dan and Jan, who are originally from Ionia and Petoskey respectively, were living in Detroit at the time. After they purchased the place they couldn’t afford to buy a house, so Dan pitched a tent behind the market and built an apartment for the two of them in what is now their office.

“Our door opened up into the market, so we would be in the apartment and when the bell rang, we would take turns waiting on the customer,” Jan recalled. “And the bell didn’t ring that often.”

But since those early days, business has picked up considerably. They also lived with a sneaky white Samoyed who was known to pick up dollar bills that customers dropped on the floor and run outside through a “dog door” in the apartment. But in ’85, they left those cozy quarters and moved into a house of their own.

The market’s expansion was completed in mid-December and the Hummels are planning a grand opening event sometime this month. Dan will split his time between the meat counter and the wine department while Jan will focus on the deli and wine. For the first time ever, they have hired someone full-time to staff the register, and have 14 employees in all. They are excited about their new roles in the market as Dan sports his new white butcher’s coat and Jan lists many of her own recipes that will be showcased in the deli.

Heading the meat market is Don Hannah, who comes to Bayside with 22 years experience and was most recently the meat manager for Hansen Foods in Suttons Bay. In addition to an extensive collection of meat and seafood, the market now has two smokehouses and is making its own hot dogs and sausages. The expanded deli will offer more prepared foods and made-to-order sandwiches. The Hummels have also added a fryer for shrimp and their homemade french fries.

“We are doing as much in-house as possible,” said Dan about the food selection. “We’ve built our business on pride of what we sell. It’s all about quality.”

A local food section highlights jellies, coffee, honey, and bread and the Hummels are encouraging local farmers to bring in produce come spring. BN