History

  • Originally called McCarthy Hall, the building was constructed by Alanso McCarthy in 1875. It was a billiard hall that served “intoxicating beverages.” As a male-only establishment, the Sampling Room offered enticing items such as cigars, wines, and liquors to customers.

  • 1888 The building was purchased by Frank J. Gruclich who changed the name to The Annex. At this time, food was incorporated into the business. It provided dining and entertainment to the adjacent Cushman Hotel. A garden patio was added to the east side of the building and referred to as the Palm Garden. On the interior, a 32 foot solid mahogany bar was installed. At the time, there were no windows so gas lighting was used to brighten the dark interior.

  • 1897 Gruclich passed way and Frank Fotchtman took over the business. He decided to expand and bought the land just east of the Palm Garden. He built the Grill Café which opened in July 1910 with a bowling alley in the basement.

  • 1917 Prohibition was established in Michigan. However, Fotchtman did not abide by it and illegally served alcohol. He went as far as to build secret underground tunnels to the Cushman Hotel and the Grill Café to export alcohol. These tunnels are no longer in existence because of sewers and other city infrastructure, but the doors and openings are still visible.

  • 1918-1919 The establishment was raided by the sheriff and the owner was fined and sentenced to jail for violating the liquor law.

  • 1910s-1920s Ernest Hemingway made Northern Michigan his home in the summer. The Annex was one of his favorite places. He would sit at the second seat from the end of the bar and write his ideas down for short stories and books. The short story “Gentleman of the World” makes mention of the Annex.

  • 1932 Fotchman died and his nephew Ralph Fotchman took over the business. The name was changed to The Park Garden Café. The name derived from the Pennsylvania Park just west of the restaurant and the Palm Garden to the east.

  • 1954 Robert and Lodema Shier purchased the business. An addition was added to the east, now referred to as the Peacock Room. It serves as an additional dining room and allows more guests to enjoy the restaurant. The current kitchen was added to the rear of the dining room. The façade was changed to English Tudor. The door was moved to the side and a bay window was added to the first floor. Bricks were installed and gas lights were attached to the front. In 1974, a stained glass picture with the Park Garden Café name within the design was installed in the front window.

  • 1986 The building was sold to Larry Rellinger, a real estate broker. His office is now on the second floor. The Victorian façade and interior were restored to the original character. Since then, several proprietors have tried their luck.

  • 1997 Bob & Mary Keedy, Dick & Laura Dinon, Chef John Norman, and Patrick Faylor purchased the Park Garden Café and changed the name to City Park Grill. The menu was changed as well to reflect their scratch kitchen and daily/seasonal specials. Since then, the restaurant has been restored to the glory days of the past, serving a wide array of guests from around the world.

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