Fresh faces bring new life to Benzie buildings

BENZIE COUNTY – The Mayfair Tavern, a Benzie County restaurant and gathering place since the 1930s, is reopening this month under new owners.

Long part of the restaurant business, Heather and Bill Frary bring new energy to the Elberta establishment, while keeping the menu and d├ęcor the same. The Mayfair tradition of hearty steaks, fish, ribs and burgers will continue, but they will beef up the menu with more appetizers, beer, wine and specialty drinks, along with desserts by Bill's mother, Joanne, who is well known in the area for her own restaurant and catering service.

The Mayfair will be open seven days for lunch and dinner, with expanded hours this summer.

Another Benzie County building that has housed a variety of businesses for the past 60 years is reborn again thanks to the 244 Project by area businessmen David Miles Boekeloo and Patrick Elliott.

The building on the corner in Beulah next to the Post Office was originally a hotel and hub for downtown when U.S. 31 flowed through the town. When complete, the building will have four separate units for sale that could be retail or office condos. The developers hope they will build value for the businesses that locate there.

"Pat and I have a strong sense of community for the downtown district of Beulah and we have researched many opportunities," said Boekeloo.

"We hope to see businesses come in that will complement the current offerings in town. Beulah has a great reputation as a quaint little village on the water and we want to help as many people experience it as possible. So far, the comments have been overwhelmingly positive."

Two of the units will house the developers' offices, the other two units are still available, with a completion date expected by mid-May. For more information, call 231-882-7790.

In Frankfort, the old D&R Automotive store, a stone's throw from Betsie Bay, has morphed into the new Port City Smokehouse on Main Street. Opening Memorial Day weekend, the Smokehouse will feature freshly-caught and smoked fish from area charter boats, retail smoked fish, fresh specialty meats and cheese, deli sandwiches and a varied selection of beer and wine.

New owners are the Elwell brothers, who burst onto the Benzie County business scene two years ago with the opening of Bay Port Lodging in Frankfort and the Lakes & Trails Motel in Benzonia.

"We are a busy group and we like this area and see a lot of potential. We are excited about the Port City Smokehouse and hope we can fill a niche in the area." BN