EAGLE RIVER - The rich, bold flavor of authentic Southern barbecue has taken a front row seat on the menu at Fitzgerald's.
Slow-cooked brisket, pulled pork "tender enough for a stiff breeze to blow it apart," and Memphis style ribs are just some of the new tasty and affordable offerings barbecue lovers can enjoy while dining lakeside at Fitzgerald's in Eagle River.
"We're all about giving people a new experience because it's incredibly rewarding for us to know that we've shown our customers something they can't get anywhere else," Mike LaMotte said. "Not only do we like the idea of the smoked meat, and like it ourselves, but we knew it could be affordable."
Mike LaMotte, right, and Marc Rea, owners of Fitzgerald’s in Eagle River, are seen in the bar area of the restaurant.
Mike and Marc Rea purchased the oversized smoker on wheels this past winter from an award-winning competitive barbecuer in Iowa.
"We went down and picked it up and he showed us the ropes." Mike said. "He still helps us out."
Of course, Fitzgerald's still offers its famous burgers and popular entrees like the pecan walleye, Lake Superior whitefish, and rack of lamb, which is served with a rosemary olive oil.
New entrees include their smoked sausage alfredo and vegetable risotto.
To wash it down, Marc said they've got quite a few options from the bar.
"I think it started three years ago; we noticed our clientele would come in and they would ask for different single malt scotches and so we kind of took that and ran," he said. "Now, three years later, we have over 100 whiskeys."
Having researched and sampled each bottle that comes through the door, Mike and Marc are happy to help customers find what they like.
"That's one of our most enjoyable things, that extra opportunity to interact with people," Mike said. "We also do flights for people who are unsure of what they're looking for - it's a set of three whiskeys."
Flights offer customers a way to sample three, one-ounce pours, for a more affordable price.
"Whiskey is going where wine went for a while," Mike said. "It's trendy, and a sort of affordable luxury."
Fitzgerald's is noted for its unique collection of American craft beer, which includes, but is not limited to, Bell's, KBC, Goose Island, and the newest on the list, Short.'s.
"We like to keep them rotating, keep them fresh and keep our lines clean," Marc said. "We've got six tap beers and five of those are Michigan beers."
Marc said one of their distributors, Dale Pisani, of Pisani Distributing, has had much to do with their bar offerings.
"He's such a hard worker," he said. "Say we're traveling around and we taste something we like, we bring it back to Dale and tell him we'd like to sell it. No matter how obscure, he goes out of his way to make sure we get it."
Competitively priced traditional domestic lagers are also available.
While years ago Fitzgerald's was considered more of a high-end dining spot, Mike said today they're just the opposite.
"We're not fine dining, we're just good dining," he said. "We want to do quality food and keep the prices as low as we can."
Fitzgerald's offers a quiet escape for visitors with its intimate dining area and bar, which overlooks Lake Superior and miles of shoreline.
Seating is available indoors or outdoors on the deck.
Marc said they officially opened for the season April 9, and about 150 turned out for the occasion.
"We had local band Raven Congress come out and play and we gave samples of some of the barbecue we're doing," he said. "People really enjoyed the new flavors."
Fitzgerald's also offers overnight stays at its adjoining 11-room hotel, which includes a lounge area and sauna.
As a courtesy to their guests, Mike said they offer $50 room rates on music nights. Discount rates for locals are also available during the off season.
Online room reservations can be made by visiting their new website, eagleriverinn.com.
Visitors can check for room availability, prices, view their full menu and read their blog, which is updated regularly during the season. Find Fitzgerald's on Facebook by searching "The Fitz."
Once again Fitzgerald's is planning its Fourth of July beach party with live music, fireworks and a pig roast.
Visitors can also look forward to their Farm Block Fest Kick Off Party at the end of July.
For additional event information, check out details online.
While this is their fourth year in business together, Marc said they're looking forward to sharing their new offerings and great view with customers.
"It's well worth the drive to come out," he said.
Fitzgerald's spring hours are noon to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday, with expanded hours daily starting June 1.
Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by Fitzgerald's of Eagle River. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.