2005-09-03 / Top News

Grand Hotel To Purchase French Outpost

Grand Hotel and the French Outpost restaurant on Mackinac Island have reached an agreement in principal whereby the hotel will purchase the restaurant and shops on Cadotte Avenue, across from Little Stone Church.

The French Outpost has been operated by the Orr family since 1971 when the late Elizabeth C. and Dr. Rex M. Orr purchased the site and converted it to a restaurant featuring upscale American and regional cuisine. At the time, Rex Orr was the Island veterinarian.

In recent years, the restaurant has been owned and operated by their daughters, Debra and Sandra Orr, who announced the sale with Grand Hotel President R. D. Musser III.

R. D. Musser III (from left), Debra Orr and Sandra Orr.
R. D. Musser III (from left), Debra Orr and Sandra Orr. “The French Outpost is very dear to us,” Debra Orr said. “When we decided to sell, we wanted to make sure we found new owners who appreciate and understand the tradition of both our restaurant and Mackinac Island. Obviously, no institution is more a part of the tradition and ambiance of Mackinac Island than Grand Hotel, and we are thrilled that they are the new owners.”

Sandra and Debra Orr will continue to operate their three other Island businesses, Orr Kids Bicycle Rental, Pub Oyster Bar, which the Orrs established in 1981, and the new Seabiscuit and Grog Cafe, which opened this summer.

Before it was French Outpost, the site on the corner of Cadotte Avenue and Mahoney Avenue was known as Mary’s Pantry, a popular restaurant for locals that opened in 1922 and was owned by Myron and Mary Bloomfield. It featured two nickel slot machines and homemade meals. (Photograph courtesy of Tom Pfeiffelmann)Before it was French Outpost, the site on the corner of Cadotte Avenue and Mahoney Avenue was known as Mary’s Pantry, a popular restaurant for locals that opened in 1922 and was owned by Myron and Mary Bloomfield. It featured two nickel slot machines and homemade meals. (Photograph courtesy of Tom Pfeiffelmann) Mr. Musser said the hotel “will keep the spirit and atmosphere they have created at the French Outpost. Many of our guests already go to the French Outpost, especially since it is located down the hill that leads to downtown from the hotel. This gives us a new ingredient to our total hospitality package.”

The restaurant serves both a lunch and dinner menu in a casual setting that includes an outdoor deck and entertainment on evenings and weekends. In recent years, the Orrs extensively remodeled the facility and added shops to the building.

The French Outpost will be the fourth restaurant the hotel operates on the Island separate from the hotel facility. The others are The Jockey Club at the Grand Stand, on the first tee of the golf course across Cadotte Avenue from the hotel, Woods, a restaurant at Stonecliffe, and the Tea Room at Fort Mackinac.

Mr. Musser said the sale will be finalized this fall and that the restaurant will open in the spring under Grand Hotel management.

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