Apr 10, 2016

History and cuisine carry on at the Silver Palace

Carrie behind the bar at the Silver Palace
Doc's report:

The commute northeast on Woodside from my apartment to my job has taken me past the Silver Palace in Essexville several times a week for almost two years. I hang out at Coonan’s, so I wasn't impressed enough by the Palace's unassuming exterior to stop in after work, until recently.

But like so many facets of Bay County -- its unsung bars, its history, its people -- all you have to do is look a little closer to uncover some authentic treasures.

For example, the massive, ornate wood mantle behind the bar merits a second visit.

The Palace itself is rich in history, patrons and cuisine. There seems to be some dispute about the exact date of its origins, maybe dating back to the administrations of Rutherford Hayes and Grover Cleveland (two of my favorites).   

The industrial boom at Chevrolet, Defoe Shipbuilding, Industrial Brownhoist (IB) and other manufacturers were good times -- before, during and after World War II. The ceiling of the Palace once was rimmed with the hard hats of patrons, according to
our charming hostess, Carrie. The
Plenty of space at the Palace on a weekday
hard hats' owners were identified to encourage their friends to contribute to fund-raisers for feeding the hungry at the holidays.

Of course, Defoe has been been closed for decades, Chevrolet (now Powertrain) is radically downsized, and the Uptown development -- a success by all reports -- offers dining, hospitality, financial and medical services on the site where IB once produced rail cranes.

During the county's transition from an industrial-based to a service-based economy, the one constant has been the farmland sprawling from the Bay into the Thumb. In our late March visit, someone at the Palace mentioned having already had Easter asparagus.

People respond to the topic of food and drink: A patron waxed nostalgic on Stroh's and Carling Black Label, former sponsors of the Tigers. An innocent beer reference calls up memories of Kaline and Colavito creating the game at the plate, Kell and Harwell creating the game on radio for the listeners' imaginations -- as the boys of summer doff the Old English “D.”

The millennials don't remember Stroh's. Carrie tells us they order Jack and Ginger (Jack Daniel's and Vernor’s). (Prediction: Somebody on Facebook will post pictures of twin pugs named Jack and Ginger.)

Everyone's got a favorite Bay City restaurant. That topic comes up in our blog's visits, mainly
Framed beer sign
because I introduce it. It's surprising, in a city founded by Poles, Germans, Irish and French, how many people's favorite cuisine is Italian: G's, Grampa Tony’s, Cafe Cremosi, Brooklyn Boyz.

Someone at the Palace said his favorite restaurant is the Stein Haus and his favorite entree there is -- wait for it -- pizza.

I had a sloppy Joe there that I'll have again: tomato-infused shaved pork on two mid-sized buns.

But the memories of people -- more than food and drink, history, business -- anchor the discussion at the unsung bars. According to Carrie, a former owner of the Palace was a cousin of Essexville native and Olympic gold medal (1964) skater Terry McDermott. Carrie's grandmother was local historian, activist and centenarian Odeal LeVasseur Sharp.

And, though we didn't have to say it, Harry and I remembered Baldo, this blog's co-founder, near the second anniversary of his passing.


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