Just shy of 50 years in business, Mike’s Village Restaurant to close
DIMONDALE – A downtown mainstay known for its baked breads and old-fashioned donuts will close its doors this month, just shy of its 50-year anniversary.
Mike’s Village Restaurant, a family-owned and operated eatery, has been in the same spot in the 100 block of North Bridge Street in downtown Dimondale since June 4, 1968.
The business will close for good May 12, owner Mike Chappell said.
Chappell, 75, started the business shortly after moving to Dimondale, after having worked for seven years at a fast-food restaurant.
“I didn’t know anything about running a restaurant except for what I learned at McDonald’s,” he said Tuesday.
He brought with him his grandmother’s recipe for “old-fashioned fry cakes” or donuts, and developed an interest in baking breads and desserts after he opened.
Bromley Chappell has been helping his father, who served as village president in Dimondale for more than a decade, run the business for 13 years. He started working at the family business when he was 14, and said the decision to close was “unbelievably difficult.”
“I’ve thought about it for the past year,” Bromley said. “How do we say good-bye or get more people in the door?”
Mike said he “wanted to keep it going.”
“I felt that it was part of the Village of Dimondale,” he said.
Bromley said the restaurant was known for scratch-cooking over the years.
Mike spent several decades in the kitchen, where he made fresh bread, pies, buns and the family recipe for “old-fashioned fry cakes” for customers.
The latter are still made to order, Bromley said, and staff still do all the baking on site.
“I don’t know of anybody that does that anymore,” he said. “But we still do.”
Homemade spaghetti sauce and soups were always on the menu, and sandwiches and hamburgers were always served on in-house breads and buns.
“Absolutely everything we make is homemade,” Bromley said. “I think that was probably one of our biggest draws.”
“People liked what I was doing,” Mike said. “I guess they liked the atmosphere of my joint. It was nothing fancy.”
In the 1980s the business nearly doubled in size when the family purchased the storefront next door, but the 90-seat restaurant’s revenue has been declining for at least three years, Bromley said, and the family had been wrestling with the question of what to do about it.
“We’re a family kind of establishment and we hire people who need jobs,” Bromley said. “This has essentially been my second home.”
Before he entered semi-retirement a few years ago Mike worked 80 or 90 hours a week, but the hours “never bothered” him.
Now, he said it’s simply time to close the business.
“My turn appears to be over with,” he said.
The news was announced publicly Tuesday afternoon in a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“To all of Mike’s Village Restaurant fans, We’ve been making your favorite Meals with Homemade Bread, scratch Donuts, delicious Pies, Soups, fresh Salad Bar, Daily Specials, Combo Meals, filling Breakfasts, Lunches, and Dinners since June 4, 1968. Mike’s Village Restaurant will be closing for good by Saturday, May 12th. Thank you for your support over the almost fifty years we’ve been in DOWNTOWN DIMONDALE….Mike Chappell.”
Bromley said the announcement been met with shock from loyal customers.
“It’s hard to believe because we’ve been around so long,” he said. “It’s a main staple in Dimondale.”
Mike said just a few hours after posting the news there were more than 50 comments.
“I guess I won’t be surprised if we are busy for the next week and a half,” he said. “I’d be pleased to see people come by one last time. It would warm my heart.”
Contact Reporter Rachel Greco ator email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ.