From the Farm: Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel has porch-perfect renovation underway

From the Farm: Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel has porch-perfect renovation underway

I love our front porch at our family farm, including the view of a sprawling lawn, the flowering landscape, and what seems like an ever-present cool breeze.

But while our farm front porch, including Grandma Potempa’s platform rocking chair, only comfortably seats a cozy five or six guests, the Grand Hotel to our north, with its “world’s longest extended front porch” and rocking chairs, can accommodate hundreds of relaxing spirits (both past and present) along the shores of Michigan’s Mackinac Island.

For the past 30 years, ever since my first jaunt with my mom Peggy three decades ago in 1994, the Grand Hotel and Mackinac Island have been a favorite May and Memorial Day weekend tradition for myself, family and friends.

Opened in 1887, the Grand Hotel was been owned and operated by the Musser Family, starting in 1933 through three generations carrying on the tradition started by the original visionary owner W. Stewart Woodfill.

This year marks the hotel’s 138th season for the historic 397-room hotel built to perch high above the island as a focal point and luxury escape resort where no motorized vehicles are permitted and horse-drawn carriages and pedestrian fortitude are the preferred modes of transportation.

Just a few months before the pandemic, in October 2019, a new chapter began for the Grand Hotel, which is now operated by Davidson Resorts, a specialized operating division of Davidson Hospitality Group. The management team carefully guides the operations of the Grand Hotel, working closely with the longtime staff and David Jurcak, who is president of operations and leading an impressive five-year restoration plan for the landmark front porch and column façade of the Grand Hotel.

It was last year when this five-year expansive project launched to restore the façade, which includes the porch, its 52 original wood columns, wood flag poles, the siding, windows and Juliet balconies. The Grand Hotel restoration is partially funded by a Historic Preservation Fund created with the support of a minimal 1.887 % charge included on select purchases for hotel guests. Remarkably, the porch renovation can’t be spotted by guests and poses no disruption to the day-to-day activities.

Jurcak and staff are busy getting ready for the weekend of June 15 to herald in the 76th Annual Lilac Festival on Mackinac Island, with details at Much like Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland, the spring 2024 season for flowers and blooming schedule at Mackinac Island seems accelerated this year. Over Memorial Day weekend, lilacs were starting to bloom, and the usual bursting bulbs of vibrance, such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, were fading for the holiday.

The newest dining feature on the property, called The Jockey Club, provides guests a less formal and casual dining opportunity (if desired) for evening feasting since the hotel’s main formal dining room requires a jacket and tie for men. I’ll be chatting about more of this year’s new highlights unveiled this season, which only spans through the end of October as explained at, when I chat more with Jurcak on my radio show in June.

A favorite feasting feature for guests at the Grand Hotel is to start the day in the elegant main dining room to load up on the energy needed to explore the grounds and the island.

Avocado toast, topped with poached eggs, is a new and trendy breakfast selection now served on the main dining room menu at the Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island. (Philip Potempa/for Post-Tribune)

In the past, I’ve been partial to selecting one of the quiche options for breakfast. However, this year, the trendy and scrumptious treat of avocado toast has now made its way on the Grand Hotel menu. My avocado toast at the Grand Hotel arrived topped by two plump poached eggs, leading my dining companion to mistakenly think the poached eggs were two mounds of fresh mozzarella cheese.

Martha Stewart, who will celebrate her 83rd birthday in August, has also ranked the Grand Hotel as a favorite getaway pick, along with her editors at Martha Stewart Living magazine. Martha has a simple recipe for avocado toast that never disappoints, to which I’ve added my own minor ingredient tweaks to fine-tune for my personal taste.

Columnist Philip Potempa has published four cookbooks and is the director of marketing at Theatre at the Center. He can be reached at or mail your questions: From the Farm, PO Box 68, San Pierre, Ind. 46374.

Martha and Phil’s Avocado Toast

 Makes 2 servings

2 avocados, extra ripe

1 teaspoon lime juice

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons grated fresh parmesan cheese

4 slices of thick multi-grain bread, toasted

Salt and pepper as desired


1.       Slice and scoop out avocados into a small bowl and mash with a fork.

2.       Add lime juice, olive oil and parmesan cheese and blend with avocados.

3.       Spread avocado mixture generously on toast.

4.       Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.