A Conversation With Owner Elizabeth Estes of Coast 236
Fresh From Coast 236
Time to tune back into Wickwood Inn’s Saugatuck Restaurant Guide. Today, a conversation with Elizabeth Estes … one of the owners and team members of the recently opened Coast 236 in downtown Saugatuck. Our guests have been giving rave reviews of the new ownership, the new decor, and the new menu. We can’t wait to hear about the inspiration for the restaurant name, the creative food that they serve, and what they love about being in Saugatuck.
“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”
~ Luciano Pavarotti
Q: What led you to open up Coast 236?
A: (Chuckling) It was not in the plan, but really, it was friendships that made this happen. Once we looked at the building, we fell in love with it … its history as a photography studio and darkroom, all the iterations since then … it’s so charming. Mary (Fechtig), Matt & Linda (McWebb) and I decided it was a no-brainer. We love this community. It is our home. I have moved businesses from Illinois to Michigan, and this just became a project we couldn’t resist.
Q: Can you talk a little more about the people who are making Coast 236 happen?
A: Mary is a lawyer and an operations manager, so she’s invaluable. Linda is excellent with design. Matt has the restaurant expertise and serves as our General Manager. I work in marketing and am the Creative Officer at Coast. Additionally, we are so grateful to Mindy Trafman for coming on board. She’s a veteran. She gives me confidence. And she’s the hardest working person I know.
Q: Where did the name of the restaurant come from, and what inspires the food that you serve?
A: When creating a concept for the restaurant, we knew we wanted it to be both approachable and adaptable. We started thinking about coastlines … along Lake Michigan and all over the world. No matter where it is, a coast is fresh. You can breathe easier and relax along a coast. We wanted to do that same thing with our menu. The 236 is for our address at 236 Culver Street, and Coast connects to our aim to have food from all over the world that’s fresh and approachable. We believe good food doesn’t have to be complicated. If you have great ingredients (fresh seafood, freshly cut meats, nothing frozen), then you can do simple things to bring it to life. For example our Cod dish. Miso and Sake can transform this simple fish and make it delicious!
Our best-selling items are the Beet Tower, Salmon, Berkshire Porkchop and Miso Cod. Personally, I love the response to the Coast Frisky on our cocktail menu. It’s what my friends and I like to drink in the summer … Vodka and Fresca on the rocks. My friends teased me that it had to go on the menu, and now it’s one of our most popular cocktails.
Q: What do you love about living in Saugatuck and owning a restaurant here?
A: It may seem strange that we opened up in the ‘slow season’, but we’ve loved it! We’ve really gotten to know the people who live here year round. People have been patient, and friendly, and everyone has given us so much helpful feedback. We’ve made so many new friends.
Something that people love and thank us for is that we take reservations, and we’ll continue doing that throughout the year. We love this community, and this winter we cant to continue celebrating being here.
Q: That’s a nice transition into the next question. What are you looking forward to at Coast as we move towards spring and summer?
A: I’m excited about events coming up to stay connected with the community. We want to do things that are fun and collective experiences. We’re going to have a wild game night and an all you can eat crab night. I’m looking forward to hosting a kids cooking class to so we can have local kids help us create and focus our kids’ menu. In April, we’re bringing in a Chef from Ireland for a cooking class and an Irish weekend.
I’m looking forward to being open 7 days a week and adding brunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I’m a breakfast girl, and I love a good Bloody Mary Bar, so we’ll add that. We’ve been asking people to send us inspiration from coasts that they visit, and they are! We’ve gotten some great pictures of very cool Bloody Mary Bars from the Keys, and other places.
“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”
~ John Gunther
Our back patio, a favorite spot at this place, will be ready to go.
I also have some fears of high season. It will be a big change when it isn’t primarily locals who are already our friends and neighbors. That’s when I’m especially grateful for Mindy Trackman and her experience.
A few of Wickwood Inn’s favorites at Coast 236
From the Bar:
Jamaican Smoke | Mezcal, home made Hibiscus syrup and lime juice on the rocks … you can feel the warm breeze
Portonic | a local Portuguese favorite. White port, tonic on the rocks with a slice of charred orange … heavenly
From the Kitchen:
The Beet Tower | Dazzling layers of Butternut Squash, yellow beets, candied red beets, goat cheese, lemon vinaigrette, crushed pistachios, diced avocado, micro radish leaves and a very light drizzle of aged Balsamic vinegar.
Lamb Lollypops | A favorite with Pistachio Mint Pesto
Crisply Seared Sea Scallops | atop a sweet corn puree, cauliflower potato hash sprinkled with micro greens
For Vegans | Seared Cauliflower Steak over a Mediterranean Orzo with tomatoes, basil, roasted red pepper and garlic
Grilled Berkshire Pork with Mashed Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
Ethereal Amalfi Lemon Cake or Malasadas (hot Portuguese donuts) served with a Wild Berry Chutney and Vanilla Bean Gelato