THREE OAKS — The opening of Froehlich’s Kitchen & Pantry at 19 N. Elm St. is one more reason to take a trip to Three Oaks.

The village has enjoyed a revival of its downtown shopping district thanks to attractions such as this new restaurant, retail and event space.

Before she cut the grand opening ceremony ribbon on Saturday, June 8, in front of her newly expanded kitchen, bakery, deli and gift store, founder Colleen Froehlich noted that many of those gathered on the sidewalk had watched her lay tile 27 years ago as she prepared to open her first shop just across the street.

“Back then, there were 24 vacant storefronts. Today, they are all full,” Froelich commented. The increased foot traffic and interest in farm-to-table dining, for which Froehlich’s is known, were contributors to her decision to expand.

Officially opening on Monday, June 17, the new main floor space with a “market vibe” combines an expansive open kitchen surrounded by a bright, lofty space for seating and serving, with a deli area offering fresh carry-out sandwiches and salads. The colorful retail area is stocked literally from floor to ceiling with a wide selection of homemade jellies and preserves and other food items surrounded by unique kitchen and home décor items. There is a separate, glassed-in beverage boutique featuring unique teas, beers, wines and other beverages.

The original store, at 26 N. Elm St., will be renamed Froehlich’s Bakery and offer artisan breads, pies, pastries, unique desserts and special occasion cakes.

The lunch menu, which will be served from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily except Wednesday, includes a selection of small plates and salads, including peanut noodle, Grandma Faye’s shrimp and potato salad, Froehlich’s Club Salad and a selection of fruits and nuts. The main lunch selections include Froehlich’s Burger, shrimp po’ boy, adult grilled cheese, an After-School Ham “Sammy” and other selections.   

Dinners will be served Sunday through Thursday, from 5 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. The dinner menu, which also includes several take out selections, includes a full selection of salads, an expanded small plates selection that incudes a charcuterie board, lemon pepper shrimp and fresh jalapeno poppers.

Main dinner features range from Biloxi Boil, crispy pan spaghetti, Righteous Ribs, pork chops and both flank and ribeye steaks to oven baked fauxrotto, Colleen’s Pickled Chicken, corn meal crusted fried catfish and cedar plank Scottish salmon.

Both the lunch and dinner menus include the caution to save room for dessert which are made fresh daily in their bakery.  Just one of the specialties is their fan-favorite OMG! Chocolate Cake with layers of ganache, chocolate cake and chocolate mousse.

Although Froehlich has applied for a full service liquor license, it has been delayed by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission because of her husband’s employment as a Three Oaks Village police officer. He has resigned his position and a hearing on the license is scheduled for June 18.

New to the Froehlich’s umbrella is the restored upstairs event and banquet space that seats up to 399 guests and includes a bridal suite and catering kitchen. Newly sanded and varnished original wood flooring (and lots of it) contrasts with the refurbished brick walls and original large windows beneath the antique tin ceiling tiles and open-ventilation system.

The space is accessed via a new, glassed-in wide staircase and elevator addition at the rear of the building which gives an expansive view of the original Featherbone Factory complex (now home to the Acorn Theatre and Journeyman Distillery and Staymaker Restaurant) plus the picturesque farm fields beyond.

Froehlich purchased the historic building and the package liquor license at 19 N. Elm St. three years ago from its previous owner, Ray Wojdula, who operated the Three Oaks Pharmacy there. Originally, the building was a thriving department store founded in 1920 as part of the Featherbone business empire that dominated Three Oaks. The store was later taken over by the Hunerjager family, which ran it for decades.

A presentation on the history of the building will be given Tuesday, June 25, at 7:30 p.m. as part of a Froehlich’s give-back dinner benefitting The Region of Three Oaks Museum, which has a new exhibit on the history of the building. The museum, located at 5 Featherbone Ave., can be seen from the new rear staircase leading to the banquet/event space.

Froehlich said she could envision what she wanted from the first moment she toured the building. She admitted it had been a long journey with were a lot of surprises and delays along the way, “mostly electrical and construction stuff.” 

Finally, she said, it is so exciting and rewarding to have her vision become a reality and thanked all those who helped her along the way, particularly the carpenters and craftsmen.

Director of operations of Froehlich’s and the nearby Three Oaks Social Club is Cristina Bragalone, with Matthew Kirby as marketing and support staff manager and Chef Jeffrey Johnston. The beverage boutique will be managed by Dominic Raso. Events Manager is John Wagner, Li Neumann is retail manager, and Bruce McKamey, human resource director. Partners with Froehlich are Amy and Drew Logan. 

The phone number will remain (269) 756-6002.

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