MACKINAC ISLAND, MI – Part of the fun of visiting Ice House BBQ – the outdoor patio and restaurant area tucked behind Island House Hotel – is getting there. Open to hotel guests, local and visitors alike, this shaded hideaway spot is just steps away from the bustle of Main Street. A walkway along the west side of the hotel opens up into an inviting backyard garden spot. And this summer, there’s a big new draw.
A outdoor stone-fired pizza oven was installed after Memorial Day and has been turning out steady orders of thin-crust pizzas for the lunch and dinner crowds. Island House managers say it’s been a nice addition to the outdoor restaurant area that’s been known for its homestyle smoked barbecue menu and casual atmosphere.
“It’s really a hidden gem,” said Heather Tamlyn, director of marketing for Island House, which is Mackinac’s oldest historic hotel and has a beautiful waterfront view directly across from the marina. Island House is not only a state landmark, it’s the only hotel located within the boundaries of Mackinac Island State Park and is actually owned by the state.
But it’s the generations of the Callewaert family who for more than 50 years have been the caretakers of this resort-style hotel. (See the Island House history video below). They are the ones who have worked diligently to bring it back from a dilapidated shell of a hotel in the early 1970s to the award-winning gem it is today. In addition to the property renovations, Island House’s dining options have continued to expand.
The Ice House restaurant area was added in 1995. It happened about the same time the hotel’s new pool went in and was capped by three up-top hotel suites boasting great island views.