How many times do you drive down Dunes Highway 12? If you’re like us, it could be several times a week. This beautiful tree lined street changes with the seasons and connects many of the parcels and trails in the Indiana Dunes National Park. It’s our favorite road, and it’s filled with some of our top spots. (Goblin & The Grocer, Over Yonder, and TroyBuilt Fitness just to name a few…)
We couldn’t help notice a change along our route when we drove by Joe’s Bar & Grille and saw these words: JOE & FREDDY’S. NON SMOKING. IT JUST AINT THE SAME OLD JOE’S…BUT IT IS!
Joe & Freddy’s? After a little research we discovered that Nicole Bissonnette, owner of Fish Camp, was the new co-owner and would be running the restaurant. We couldn’t be more thrilled. We had a few questions for Nicole and we knew you would too, so we got the scoop. Here it is!
What made you decide to take on another venture? I have always loved the corridor between route 49 and Mt Baldy. Our kids have grown up their entire lives in the Dunes and we hope their kids will also. With Fish Camp in Michigan City, it made sense to take on a small venture nearby. My grandma owned a tavern in Kankakee, Illinois back in the 1960-70s and I used to help clean for dimes to play skee-ball.
Can you share a few favorites that we might see on the menu? We want to keep it simple. There is a great core crew at Joe’s already that knows what they are doing and we do not want to disrupt a good thing, but As I hire cooks, I will also increase menu offerings. I’m thinking that you might see pot roast, meatloaf, schnitzel and perch, and if you’ve been to Joe’s the last few weeks, you would have already seen these items run as specials. Also, people really love our soups, so there will a freshly made one daily, along with my partners PERFECT 3 Bean Beef Chili. (Michael Ganz) Soups sold by the cup, bowl and quart!
You always have great cocktails. Will you have a fun cocktail menu at Joe & Freddy’s? We want to honor the history of the area that the general public may not know. So you will definitely see some cocktails named after some local historical treasures The Beverly Bloody, The Florida Tropical, and a few old Bartlett’s favorites like the Bartlett Pear.
Do you think you will eventually have an outdoor patio? Live music? Never say never!
You are just steps away from the National Park and Central Beach — that’s pretty cool. Are you excited about this? Of course! We live in and love the Dunes! And you just might see some fun take away box lunches for the beach!
Want to see Joe & Freddy’s for yourself? It’s located at 2958 Dunes Hwy., Michigan City. You can follow them on facebook here and instagram at @joeandfreddys. Joe & Freddy’s will be closed in January and will re-open late January with a face lift and a new menu.
And now…a little history….
THE BEGINNING :
The name Frederick H “Freddy” Bartlett’s comes from the founder of Beverly Shores, the neighboring community where one of our original restaurants was conceived. Nicole Bissonnette grew up in the grocery business; her father started from nothing and grew in the business after selling Christmas trees out front of the store one year. Interestingly enough, her grandmother owned a tavern in Kankakee, Illinois in the 1960’s-70’s Hard work, grit, love of people and food is what drives our family. After university, a stint in banking, and a robbery of her apartment in Chicago, Nicole switched gears, flew to Paris, signed up for culinary school and interpreted at the Cordon Bleu Cooking School to pay for part of her studies. Her first venture back stateside was Bistro 157, in Valparaiso, IN which fed many regulars over the 14 year life. In fact, guests used to reserve bar stools on Friday night, which regulars soon called “the Friday night supper club”, and those regulars who made acquaintance at the bar, continued to get together long after Bistro closed. Nicole has learned so much over the years, but primarily that food is to be be comforting, both appealing to the eye and to the belly! And those who prepare it? Well, it takes a restaurant team who love the art of the biz.
JOE’S BAR TO Joe & Freddy’s …
Joe’s Bar & Grill was that place where everyone knew your name. Run by Stan & Renee Kozlowski for over 25 years, the food was simple & delicious. Stop by most times of day & you were always sure to see the owners working in some capacity. Check out the memorabilia & there is likely a story that goes along. Nicole would meet friends on occasion for perfect naked wings when seeking a reprieve from her restaurant Fish Camp of Michigan City waterfront, started in 2017 around the time Bartlett’s Grill was closing. An idea struck for a new project and a casual concept, and after asking if the owners wanted to sell, Joe & Freddy’s was born.
The closure of the original Bartlett’s was a sad day for many. The same convivial atmosphere that existed at Joe’s also did at Bartlett’s Gourmet Grill. The food at Bartlett’s was thoughtful comfort food. Fish Camp also has that amiable feel and we aim to achieve that same balance of comfort food with a Chef’s touch, as seen on the Fish Camp menu. The food will be very simple, you will see a few old Bartlett’s and Joe’s favorites though! Many have raised or now moved their families to this wonderful corridor of NWI. While you still see the city lights across Lake Michigan from the shore, we hope you find pleasure in our cozy little bar on route 12.
Nicole & Michael took over Joe’s on November 1st and so far the biggest change has been no smoking. She will run it as is (adding fun specials and soups) until the end of the year then close the month of January and do a little remodeling and rebranding. They have already improved the building by painting and adding stone and a new metal roof.
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