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New lunch restaurant slated for BH

Happy Poochie Eatery to offer sandwiches, salads

By TONY WITTKOWSKI

HP Staff Writer

BENTON HARBOR — There’s a new twist coming to downtown Benton Harbor.

Lisa and Richard Gresens announced plans Monday to open a restaurant called the Happy Poochie Eatery at 325 Main St. by late spring or early summer.

“Lisa and I have always wanted to have our own place and decided the time was right,” Richard said. “I have been fortunate to experience her food over the years, but it’s exciting to think that we are going to be able to share it with the community.”

Described as a lunch restaurant, the Happy Poochie Eatery will specialize in artisan sandwiches and salads with seasonally crafted soups.

The two plan to turn the inside of the eatery into a more “comforting atmosphere” that is both casual and fun to fit the name.

“We wanted a fun name that makes you smile,” Lisa said. “Our grandson calls me ‘Poochie’ and the name has a history with our family. On the other hand, I love making food that makes people happy.”

Lisa has been in the food and restaurant industry for more than 30 years.

She previously owned a restaurant and catering business in North Carolina, and has played an integral role in her brother’s restaurants in the Detroit and St. Joseph area.

Richard is an independent product designer, whose career focused on developing and bringing creative ideas to life through design at companies like Ford and Whirlpool.

As co-owners, Richard will handle front-of-thehouse responsibilities while Lisa will coordinate the kitchen area.

“She’s creative with the food and I deal with the design portion of the restaurant,” Richard said.

The eatery will offer a variety of fresh ingredients, nitrate-free meats and produce from local vendors.

“(Lisa) has a knack when it comes to soups, sandwiches and salads,” Richard said. “She’ll be adding little things to make it unique and different. She has this way of adding a nice twist.”

See RESTAURANT, page A4


From page A3

A fresh start

The Gresens started pursuing the idea of opening a restaurant last summer.

But finding the best location didn’t come to fruition until fall.

The building at 325 W. Main St. is home to the large “FOOD” sign and has seen several businesses come and go over the years.

However, the new owners are looking to change the narrative.

“It met what we were looking for. We were in search of something in the middle of everything,” Richard said. “We liked the traffic that comes through, its proximity to all the corporations and we wanted to help revitalize some things in downtown Benton Harbor.” Not many businesses have found success at that location over the past decade.

Flagship True North Fish Market was in operation for six months at 325 Main St. before closing in November.

The building also housed Mosaic on Main – what was the former Cafe Mosaic – until it closed in the summer of 2018.

It’s also been home to several diners over the years, from King Kong Xpress to Bonnie’s Breakfast Nook, the All American Diner and Harbor Dogs & Sliders.

For a number of years dating back to the 1950s and into the early 1970s, Bob’s Snappy Service was a mainstay.

Richard said it’s their goal create a mainstay.

“A lot of people brought up the history of that place. We also want to change the perception of that,” Richard said. “It will be different inside from what people are used to. We want to change the exterior of the building. We want it to be inviting.”

Happy Poochie Eatery is looking to employ a staff of eight to 10.

Catering and food delivery is also in the mix for future consideration, Richard said.

There will be more information to come regarding hours of operation and menu items. However, Richard said they’re looking at a Monday through Friday schedule at first, to gauge how things will go.

Richard said the first couple of weeks would determine the eatery’s hours of operations.

“We are excited to be an integral part of the community, a catalyst for growth downtown, and another notable food destination in Benton Harbor,” Richard said.

Contact: twittkowski@TheHP.com, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski

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