ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – A landmark in downtown Escanaba, sights of blue and yellow jump out at you when you pass the Swedish Pantry on Ludington Street.
“It’s been in business for 50 years. We’re the only business in downtown Escanaba that’s never been out of business in 50 years,” said restaurant owner Phyllis LaBranch.
LaBranch prides the restaurant on the fact that all the food is homemade.
“We start at 4 o’clock in the morning, slicing and dicing. All homemade soups, breads, cookies, muffins, desserts. There’s not too many restaurants you can walk into and say ‘everything’s homemade,’ that’s rare. Everything’s just cooking like your mother used to do years ago,” said LaBranch.
The star of the show? The Swedish pancakes.
“Our #1 seller is our Swedish Pancakes. It’s a real thin pancake like a crepe with fresh lingonberries from Sweden, which are very healthy for you, and two meatballs. It’s our #1 seller, it’s good for breakfast, lunch or dinner,” said LaBranch.
They also offer a variety of soups, sandwiches, a pan-fried perch, all-day breakfast, cookies, muffins, breads, and you can always call them to find out what their special of the day is. In fact, the food is so good, that even some of the largest public figures have made the trip up to the U.P. to try it.
“We’ve had a lot of famous people here. The first lady Hilary Clinton was here, Johnny Carson was here, and Oprah Winfrey was here,” said LaBranch.
But for LaBranch, one of the most important parts of owning the restaurant are the customers that feel like family.
“Grandmas bring their grandchildren here, and they pass on and the grandkids come here, and then they bring their children here. My wonderful customers are very loyal to me, and once you come here you come back again and again,” said LaBranch. “It’s hard work, but it’s worthwhile. I’m very attached to my customers, they’re like my family.”
LaBranch has owned the restaurant for about 40 years, but we hear this family-oriented gem is for sale.
“It’s a wonderful earning opportunity for someone that wants to go into a business that’s already developed, it’s a turn-key situation,” said LaBranch.
The restaurant is located on Ludington Street in downtown Escanaba and is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day. And, in her free time, LaBranch also paints and sells her art in the restaurant.
“It’s the food, the atmosphere, and you’ll be happy when you leave here,” said LaBranch.