Up North along the winding U.S. 23 Lake Huron sunrise side in Harrisville, the Alcona Brew Haus offers an appetizing variety of menu items, all created and served with a unique twist.
Many inventions are born out of their creator’s need to solve their own problem. Case in point: When Sandy Arens wanted to take her 10 children out to eat, a series of food allergies made it nearly impossible for the family to enjoy a meal in a restaurant. As her children grew older, peanut, tree nut, dairy, egg, sesame, and berry allergies increasingly became a problem.
So Arens went back to school and earned an associate degree from the nationally renowned Schoolcraft College culinary arts program so she could become a better cook for her family.
Recognizing a larger need, Arens decided to open a restaurant where many offerings focus on allergen-free foods, and in May of 2019 she welcomed her first guests to the Alcona Brew Haus, where she trained her entire team to be allergen-aware. Located on pretty U.S. 23, where groves of hardwood trees line both sides and beckoning Lake Huron rolls just to the east, the restaurant is a welcoming sight in this neck of the woods. Picnic tables and a patio adorn the outside, while indoors, a cozy Up North feel — highlighted by a gorgeous stone-surround fireplace — abounds.
“I’m passionate about helping others,” Arens says. “I wanted to provide a safe place for people with food allergies to dine out.”
Arens also loves the Harrisville area, and wanted to bring another eatery to the community.
“Many people go to the west side of the state,” Arens says. “I wanted to help draw people to the beautiful Lake Huron side and all it has to offer.”
Being allergy-aware doesn’t mean the Alcona Brew Haus’ menu is lacking. Guests can order many traditional dishes such as paninis, pizza, burgers, pulled pork, and a brisket entrée (a visitor favorite).
Every dish is available with allergen-free options such as gluten-free buns or pizza dough, or even dairy-free mozzarella. The kitchen doesn’t use products that contain peanuts, tree nuts, or shellfish.
There’s good news for beer lovers, too: The appetizers and main courses aren’t the only allergen-free options at the Alcona Brew Haus. The bar offers 14 beers on tap, gluten-free mead and cider, and serves allergen-free cocktails, as well.
For more sensitive diners, Arens has a special menu that lists each dish and charts what allergen it might contain. “For diners who may be unsure of the food choices,” Arens explains, “we’ll go through the options with them to ensure they have a safe, enjoyable experience here.”
Customers who come in with serious food allergies have sometimes been overwhelmed with emotion when they discover they can safely order almost anything they want. For those people, eating out at the Brew Haus becomes a real treat.
“We had a family drive more than two hours to bring their 15-year-old daughter with serious allergies here to eat,” Arens says with pride. “When she found out she could eat whatever she wanted on the menu, she got up and hugged the server!”
Alcona Brew Haus