Café BODEGA, located at 517 N. Third St. in Marquette, offers a variety of fresh food and drink options, such as a mouthwatering orange juice cocktail, made with fresh-squeezed juick, above, and the black and bleu burger, below. (Photos courtesy of Café BODEGA)

Marquette restaurant offering more than just fresh, local food

Published in The Mining Journal on June 23, 2018

MARQUETTE — While Café BODEGA is commonly known as a restaurant and bar that serves local, natural and fresh food in Marquette, it’s also becoming a popular place to enjoy live music and art exhibits.

As the summer season begins, Café BODEGA — located at 517 N. Third St. — will be hosting and participating in an array of events.

Today, from 8-11 p.m., the seven-piece local band WhoDat Brass will play at Café BODEGA offering some funky tunes; On Friday, Lumi, a six-piece groovy reggae funk band will play from 9 p.m. to midnight; and Claire Moore’s The Bones & The Bees art exhibit will cover the walls Sunday, kicking off Marquette Art Week. The solo exhibit is a collection of recent work created by Moore, of heART in hand DESIGN, and will be displayed through July.

Libby Nelson, Café BODEGA’s owner, said rotating art shows are hosted by the Marquette Artist Collective at the building monthly. Over the last few months, members of the collective have exhibited their own artwork but are seeking entries from non-members for the month of August. The theme for the August exhibit is “Food for Thought,” Nelson said.

Throughout Art Week, local eateries will be hosting a series of after-hour events that will include food and drink features, as well as live music and other surprises. Immediately following the fourth annual Downtown Marquette Art Stroll, Thursday’s Art Week After Dark will be held at Café BODEGA, where attendees can view Moore’s artwork and enjoy live tunes as well. Prior to the after-hour events, WhoDat Brass will be playing in Café BODEGA’s parking lot.

As the Café BODEGA team prepares for all the upcoming excitement, they’re also getting ready to offer an extended menu.

“We’re still the go-to place for anyone who’s got different dietary needs, like vegan or gluten-free, but we’ll be adding more Latin-influenced options, among other things,” Nelson said. “We have one burger on our menu right now, so we’re going to do your standard hamburger and three signature burgers. We want to make sure we have something for everyone.”

Nelson said all Café BODEGA’s baked goods are made in-house. Homemade items like bread, biscuits and desserts — such as pies, creme brulée and a vegan apple crisp, which is sometimes a special — and more, are always fresh.

As a community partner, Café BODEGA teams up with several local farms and businesses, including Seeds and Spores, BSB of Skandia, Four Seasons Farm of Rock, Olson Bros. Sugar Bush of Bark River and others.

The restaurant also use Ray’s Polish Fire as one of its hot sauces, purchases coffee from Colectivo Coffee Roasters out of Milwaukee, and buys Michigan-based flour whenever possible.

Nelson, who’s also a full-time middle school art teacher, said Café BODEGA has an overall commitment to being sustainable. All organic waste — such as any prepped food that doesn’t go on a plate, coffee grounds and fibers — goes into the compost, she said, which is then taken care of by Partridge Creek Farm of Ishpeming.

Café BODEGA buys leftover herbs and vegetables from two hydroponic gardens and the hoophouse at the school Nelson works at.

“My hope is to see all businesses eventually doing that kind of stuff,” Nelson said.

Café BODEGA has a daily happy hour from 3-6 p.m., which includes $3 craft beers, rail drinks and house wine. The bar always has six-rotating craft beers on tap as well as a full bar. Before the restaurant opened for business in January 2017, the bar was placed toward the back of the room near the entrance. The idea was to have the bar area reminiscent of Ten O’Clock Charlie’s, which was housed at the location decades ago.

The bar specializes in craft cocktails made with fresh-squeezed juices, as well.

In 1882, the building where Café BODEGA is located, used to be the Third Street School until 1899 when Northern Michigan University used it as a laboratory. In 1928, it stopped operating as a school altogether and has been the location of a variety of businesses ever since.

“The first principal, her name was Mary McKinnon, and so we have a cocktail named after her — made with whiskey, of course,” Nelson said, smiling. “Doesn’t that name ‘McKinnon’ seem like it should be a whiskey drink?”

The entire ingredients?

Whiskey, H20, apple cider vinegar, sweetener and fresh ginger.

Like many businesses, teamwork makes the dream work, and that is case for Café BODEGA, Nelson says.

“Any organization’s greatest resource is their people,” she said. “We wouldn’t have made it this far if it wasn’t for our hardworking staff.”

Café BODEGA is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Times are scheduled to change if there’s live music.

For more information, visit Café BODEGA’s Facebook or Instagram pages or its website at: https://www.cafebodegamqt .com.