Everything was a fight.
Opening a new business, Fricano’s Manistee River, would not be possible without the support from the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, the City government officials, realtor and Chamber Ambassador Gini Pelton, and the Downtown Development Authority.
Four years ago, in 2018, I began scouting locations in Manistee. Initially, I was interested in the Council on Aging building, not 440 River street, where Fricano’s is today. But once the pandemic began, everything was put on hold.
Manistee is a city on the brink of a great Renaissance and something very special. There was outreach from every single City government official and a warm welcome from the business community.
In early 2020, prior to the pandemic, I received a call from Stacie Bytwork, President & CEO of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce. With the arrival of COVID-19, it was nearly 2 months before I followed up on the call – to build and invest in Manistee.
Other Chamber of Commerce organizations limit themselves to becoming a member, paying dues, and getting on a website. But the Manistee Area Chamber’s dedicated outreach and warm welcome made a difference, and brought me here.
440 River Street touched my soul, and similar to one of my other locations in Muskegon, I saw the hidden potential. The property was a designated priority site under the Redevelopment Ready Community Program of the State Economic Development Agency. This designation was part of a community process that provided an emphasis on blighted and underutilized sites. Moving forward, I wouldn’t be here without Marc Miller, Director of Economic Development at the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce.
From facade grants to direction on who to call throughout this process, Marc Miller helped with every single Manistee-related concern or need. The outreach from the Chamber, City, and the community only solidified my decision to open a restaurant in Manistee.
But the process was far from over. There was a fight with the plumbing, with the ceiling tiles, with the refrigeration, with almost everything. During this time, every Manistee government official helped me reach the finish line.
Working with the building design, my goal was to bring back some aspects of “The Spot,” which was open at 440 River Street during the 1950s. The transcending windows along the top were directly inspired by “Northern Michigan’s most modern pool and billiard room” from 70 years ago, aka “The Spot.”
Once the building was rehabilitated, there was more difficulty securing the liquor license for Fricano’s Manistee River. After weeks of back and forth in Lansing, the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, City of Manistee, and the community stepped up. The Chamber drafted and sent letters of support, advocating for my restaurant and liquor license.
Even with all the support, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission continues to require every Fricano’s establishment to check IDs for anyone ordering alcoholic beverages – regardless of age. I take following government regulations seriously, and can’t wait to serve you at my newest location, Fricano’s Manistee River.
Scenic views overlooking the Manistee River set the tone at my pizzeria, serving famous thin-crust pies. The authentic Italian family recipe – a perfectly baked 12” thin crust with any of 5 fresh toppings – was named Michigan’s #1 pizza by the Pure Michigan Travel & Tourism website.
Throughout this process, and through every fight, the Chamber has become a “first point of contact” and a dedicated supporter in all my endeavors. And I truly mean that – the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce is the key to Manistee County.
Ted Fricano is the owner and operator of Fricano’s Manistee River, Fricano’s Muskegon Lake, The Event Center, The Sweet Shoppe, The Hideaway Lounge and TED’S Inn Spring Lake. He can be reached at email@example.com.