For months, restaurant doors have been closed, their windows adorned with colorful signs saying, “We hope to see you soon!” Other culinary spots—places once filled with the hum of customers eating heaping plates of barbecue and curries and tacos—have remained open for pick-up, operating with a skeleton crew wearing the now ubiquitous face masks that adorn our day-to-day lives.
In the absence of the restaurants once teeming with patrons, workers have, in these months of sickness and worry, bent over stoves and cutting boards to not only feed customers coming for takeout but to craft an endless stream of free meals for everyone from healthcare workers to residents facing hunger and unemployment.
And, like so many businesses, restaurant owners have had to furlough and lay off staff as a global pandemic ground our state, and world, to a halt. But, things are changing: as of this week, restaurants have been allowed to reopen their in-person dining operations. As workers and customers return to a changed world—one in which restaurants must operate at 50 percent capacity, and one filled with strict guidelines regarding hygiene in the face of a continued pandemic—there is a phrase that can be heard throughout the industry: We made it. We are still here.
To celebrate this resilience, and, of course, the area’s culinary landscape itself, the 14th annual Taste of Muskegon will kick off next Friday, June 19, with this year’s festival being a 10-day whirlwind feting the local food, drinks and music that continue to fill our world.
Typically, Taste of Muskegon—an annual summertime festival that showcases area restaurants and food trucks—brings thousands of people to downtown Muskegon each year for the event, but, as we all know, this year is different in a way none of us could have imagined just months ago. Instead of a crowd filling Hackley Park, Taste of Muskegon will be held virtually, with restaurants and food trucks offering take-out to festival goers. (Plus, you’ll have the option to dine in at restaurants offering that, or eat outside at the restaurants providing outdoors seating.)
“When everything is getting canceled, we had to find a way to make Taste happen,” Ann Meisch, director of Taste of Muskegon, said in a press release. “We all need this. We all need an event to look forward to that is safe to participate in. While we won’t be in the park together, we are looking at ways to utilize social media to bring the community virtually together for the festival.”
Here’s what to know about Taste of Muskegon, including how to participate, the restaurants, the music, and more.
A festival in a pandemic: How Taste of Muskegon will work
Taste of Muskegon will begin Friday, June 19 and run through Sunday, June 28.
Thirty-nine restaurants and food trucks will prepare a Taste of Muskegon menu of up to four feature items. [All of the participating restaurants and food trucks can be found here, and we also list them below.] You will be able to order a full portion of any of the menu items, or a flight with bite-size portions of the full menu. [See all the menus by clicking here.]
To participate, you’ll need to order directly from the restaurants. No Taste of Muskegon tickets will be required; you will pay the restaurant directly. When you pick up your food, be sure to ask them for the QR code, which you can then scan with your phone at each restaurant and food truck in order to vote for the People’s Choice award.
The star of the show: Food, food and more food
From turkey knuckle soul bowls and barbecue brisket burritos to rhubarb burgers, horchata shakes, dulce de leche churro cannoli, smoked beef empanadas, and a whole lot more, the 39 food trucks and restaurants participating in the festival are going all out with their Taste of Muskegon menus. You can see the entire menu lineup by clicking here.
The 39 food trucks and restaurants participating in the festival are:
- Abeshi Ghanian Cuisine
- Aldea Coffee
- Big Reds BBQ
- Bone Ends
- Cafe 31
- Corine’s Cakes & Catering
- Cortes Mini Donuts
- Curry Kitchen
- Drip Drop Drink
- Effin Bar and Grill
- Fatty Lumpkins
- Gretchen’s Kitchen
- Hamburger Mikey
- Heather’s Kitchen
- Hey Sugar Cotton Candy Co.
- The Hideout
- Hodgepodge Bake Shop
- Holy Smokers BBQ
- Hobo’s Tavern
- Kuntry Cookin’
- The Lake House Waterfront Grille
- Lombardo’s Pizzeria & Sports Bar
- Los Amigos Mexican Bar & Grill
- Lott & Big Weezy’s Kitchen
- Lott on the Lakeshore Breakfast Snack Shop
- Morat’s Bakery
- Mylan’s Waterfront Grille
- The Only Cannoli
- Papa J’s Chili Dog’s
- The Pizza Cone Trolley
- Red Rooster Tavern
- Rolling Stone Pizza
- Savage Hog BBQ
- Smokin’ on the Lakeshore
- Suttons Concessions
- Uncle Wayne’s BBQ (Formerly A&E BBQ)
- Waffle Stix
- Yodel’s Frozen Yogurt
The show must go on: Musicians to perform online during festival
Instead of taking to the stage at Hackley Park, musicians will still be able to perform for festival goers this year—six concerts are scheduled throughout the course of the event. Held through Facebook live, the concerts will also be used as fundraisers for the Muskegon Farmers’ Market.
“The atmosphere at Taste of Muskegon is special; we hear over and over that the community feeling is a favorite part of the festival,” Ann Meisch, director of Taste of Muskegon, said in a press release. “The concerts have a lot to do with creating that atmosphere. We’re hoping to create that same aura with our online concerts. We can all come together as a community while listening to these amazing bands. They have all been excited to jump in when they heard the party in Muskegon is still on despite the challenges of 2020.”
The concert schedule is:
Friday, June 19, 7 pm: The Accidentals
Monday, June 22, 7 pm: John Merchant
Tuesday, June 23, 7 pm: Mlady
Thursday, June 25, 7 pm: Joshua Davis
Saturday, June 27, 7 pm: The Cadillac Experience
Sunday, June 28, 7:30 pm: Wayland
For more information or to connect with the festival, please click here.