The Maple Grille: Fresher, Local, Better

Crafting Culinary Wonders with Josh Schaeding

by Cliff Duvernois

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Josh Schaeding shares the amazing story behind a staple in Hemlock, Michigan: The Maple Grille. Sponsored by the Stevens Center for Family Business, the episode dives into the restaurant’s origin, its commitment to serving locally sourced, farm-to-table dishes, and the challenges of running a destination restaurant in a rural area. The Maple Grille is renowned for its use of whole animals, wood fire cooking, and an open kitchen concept, complementing its distinctive farm-to-table approach.

Josh shares his journey from working in fast food to developing a passion for culinary arts and eventually starting his restaurant, which has become a staple in the community. Despite its location and the initial challenge of lacking a professional kitchen, The Maple Grille thrives through word-of-mouth and minimal advertising, focusing on quality, local ingredients, and a commitment to the community. The episode also touches on the importance of family support in the business, the decision to keep prices affordable, and the restaurant’s strategy of menu flexibility to ensure freshness and reduce waste.

Links:

The Maple Grille Restaurant Website: (Click here)

Facebook Page: (Click here)

Address:

13105 Gratiot Road ​

Hemlock, MI 4862​6

Phone: 989-233-2895

Sponsors:

The Stevens Center for Family Business: (Click here)


The Maple Grille: Where Flavor Meets Freshness in Michigan

Michigan, known for its breathtaking landscapes and innovative economy, is also home to some remarkable culinary gems. One of these hidden treasures is the Maple Grille, a farm-to-table restaurant setting a high bar for fresh and locally sourced cuisine. The Maple Grille illustrates the passion of its owners towards fresh and high-quality meals, leading to an unforgettable dining experience. We got up close and personal with co-owner and head chef Josh Schaeding, delving into what makes the Maple Grille stand out amongst the crowd.

The Recipe for Success

At the heart of the Maple Grille’s success lies its commitment to freshness and local produce. Josh told us that while they have a significant contribution from the local community, part of their clientele travels from far and wide, just to savor their offerings and take a U-turn back home. This homage to their quality is something Josh and his dedicated team take immense pride in.

Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication

One aspect that sets apart the Maple Grille is it doesn’t rely on grandiose setups or complex menus; instead, it thrives on simplicity. The menu is updated every two weeks in alignment with local produce availability. This ensures optimal freshness and tastiness, with each dish prepared right in front of the guests. This transparency appeals to the patrons, reassuring them of the quality they are buying into. This unique approach makes the restaurant something of a local phenomenon.

From Burger King to Owning a Restaurant

Josh’s passion for cooking became apparent at a young age when he started working at Burger King. From there, he started cooking over a wood fire instead of a propane grill, leading to the distinct smoky flavor the Maple Grille is known for. The combination of affordable local products and own-grown produce contributes to the irresistible smoky taste that leaves customers craving for more.

Riding the Local Wave

Josh emphasizes sourcing local products, which not only enhances the taste but also helps in supporting the local economy. He believes in “the more you give, the more you get,” a philosophy that has motivated him to invest back into the community that supports him. From sponsoring local events to contributing gift certificates for fundraisers, the Maple Grille underscores the importance of local kinship.

Cooking the Freshness In

An interesting aspect of the Maple Grille’s operation is the unique “nose-to-tail” concept. Rather than buying specific cuts, they opt for purchasing the entire animal. This allows them to use every bit of the meat, reducing waste and improving efficiency. This, along with an open kitchen design, adds to the charm of the restaurant.

Going Beyond the Norm

The Maple Grille has overcome the barriers of location and price. Located somewhat in the middle of nowhere, it has become a destination restaurant, frequented by people from all over the state. Despite serving fresher, superior-quality meat and vegetables, the prices are highly reasonable. It’s the balance between affordability and quality that attracts so many patrons, leading to its soaring popularity.

The Maple Grille: A Legacy in the Making

Through capturing the essence of simple, farm-to-table cuisine, the Maple Grille has built a legacy that extends beyond fine dining. It is a testament to hard work, community spirit, and a commitment to quality which sets a standard for other establishments. The Maple Grille invites everyone to taste a unique culinary experience, encapsulating the flavors of Michigan in every bite.