Order Up: Digging into northern Michigan's diners

Max Johnston

The Bear Claw Cafe in Copemish is full of bears. Don’t worry, the bears are only decorative. But they are a part of a unique diner whose owner wants you to look at the animal differently.

Sam Corden

The Crystal Café in Benzonia has been a popular breakfast spot for 20 years. The café serves standard diner fare like corned beef hash, but also get creative – with dishes like Hawaiian omelets and bread pudding French toast.

"The Table of Knowledge" is a group of mostly old-timers who gather every morning at The Front Porch Cafe for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat.
Dan Wanschura

It’s five o’clock in the morning on Main Street in Ellsworth, and it seems like most of the village is sleeping. It’s quiet and dark outside, but there is a light on outside The Front Porch Cafe.

Inside, Brenda Powers is getting ready for another day.


Sam Corden

Listeners have been recommending diners across northern Michigan, from Grand Marais to Beaver Island, during IPR’s series Order Up. IPR took the advice of one caller and visited Randy’s Diner in Traverse City – with him. 

Sam Corden

For the most part, Kritters is your typical local diner. They specialize in pulled pork sandwiches and generously sized hamburgers, and they’re a popular local breakfast spot.

But on Thursday nights, Kritters attracts bikers from all over northern Michigan.

Sam Corden

The new owners of a popular hangout in Baldwin are stepping into some very big shoes. Edie Mitchell, the previous long-time owner of Edie’s Log Bar, was a well-known character in town.

Sam Corden

On the wall at Shirley’s in the Woods Cafe is an old tourist map of eastern Kalkaska County. Shirley Tracey says she bought it years before she owned her restaurant in Bear Lake.

Sam Corden

The owners of Bob’s Country Kitchen in Irons know that when your diner is out in the middle of nowhere, making fresh food from scratch is key. But sometimes, the thing that keeps your customers coming back has nothing to do with the food at all.

Morgan Springer

In Traverse City’s East Bay, on the busy hotel strip on U.S. 31, is Don’s Drive In. The pink and turquoise restaurant is known for its burgers and shakes and the fact that it’s kind of old school.

Aaron Selbig

As you pull into Mancelona, the highway narrows, following alongside railroad tracks and past a couple of abandoned warehouses. And then, there it is – a red, white and blue chicken, the unofficial mascot of the Iron Skillet.

Maya Kroth

At Cops and Doughnuts in Clare, classic tunes play on the stereo while customers line up at the glass display case, waiting to place their orders.

But Bill White isn’t here for the doughnuts.