What Michigan has to offer is on display in a big way at the recently opened restaurant The Lost Raven
, 200 E. Bridge Street, in Plainwell.
"The idea was to bring to the area a Michigan-centric gastro pub," says Scott Campbell who along with his partner in business and life Rebecca Stephens have remade the former site of the London Grill in Plainwell.
In Europe the Public Houses were houses that actually were opened to the public. The warmth that comes from that kind of hospitality is what Stephens and Campbell wanted for The Lost Raven.
"Our food is made from scratch," Campbell says. This time of year, when local produce is plentiful, the food is 90 percent from Michigan. At the bar the spirits, beers, and wines are 100 percent from the Great Lakes State.
Response during the first two weeks of business at the new restaurant has been "absolutely outstanding," Campbell says. (With good reason. On a recent visit the food and service lived up to the high standards the couple has set. Or to put it another way, the pulled pork was amazing.)
The minor problems that arise any time a new restaurant opens have been addressed and now the restaurant has the feel of an established business, Campbell says.
Business has been good enough to allow additional hiring and The Lost Raven staff now boasts 25 to 30 employees.
Getting to opening day, June 25, was a long process. The restaurant had stood empty for about two years and there was a great deal of work to be done remodeling and updating it.
With 25 years of history in the restaurant, the couple did not want to totally gut it, but there were floors to be replaced and the basic decor needed to be freshened up. "I did all of it with my own two hands," and with Rebecca's support, Campbell says. "She might not have been swinging a hammer, but she was always helping out with something. The two of us are really great partners in life and business. This could not have happened without her."
Now the two are managing two restaurants, something that Campbell has done before. "The key to running multiple restaurants is the kind of family you build around you."
He also says that either he or Stephens is usually at one or the other of the restaurants keeping an eye on how things are going.
Campbell owns Eleven & Co., named for the balance represented in the number 11, balance being a state most people are seeking these days. He has many years experience at the head of a number of successful restaurants and together he and Stephens turned around the London Grill
in downtown Kalamazoo. (They manage the properties owned by Tom Huff.)
The kind of deep thinking that leads one to name a business after the search for balance is also seen in the naming of The Lost Raven. Campbell says public houses often used animals on their signs and the raven is a strong image; whether it be Edgar Allen Poe's reference to the raven or the birds who were Norse god Odin's helpers, the raven is memorable.
The raven also is one of the animals man has chased from the area, Campbell says. Think of it this way: Once people fed themselves from food they grew themselves, then big businesses and farms replaced locally grown food, and now demand for local food is back.
"All good things come back again," Campbell says. "We're bringing the raven back."
Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Scott Campbell, Eleven & Co.