When childhood friends Nichol Palumbo and Stephanie Rose decided to open a waterfront restaurant on U.S. 23 in Tawas City, their husbands agreed to help — as long as they could brew their own beer on the premises.
Palumbo’s husband, Todd Howser, had made the beer for their wedding 22 years earlier, while Rose’s husband, Bill Tipton, developed an appreciation for Belgian beers while stationed in Belgium with the U.S. Army.
“Both guys were home-brewers,” Palumbo says. “It’s something they’d been tinkering with for years.”
In 2012, the two friends discovered a vacant 100-year-old historic building that once had been a restaurant and was being considered for demolition, to be replaced by a parking lot. The pair decided to purchase the structure and remodel it.
The result was Boathouse Beer Co. & Boozery, which was born in 2017.
Both Rose and Palumbo had successful careers when they purchased the property. Rose was a photographer, while Palumbo had been a practicing attorney and local prosecutor.
When Palumbo decided to run for judge in 2016, she knew she would have to find a new job if she lost. She wasn’t elected. Then, another catalyst helped push the friends toward their new business idea.
“Todd was selling RVs and decided it was a time for a change, so we jumped into the restaurant business head-first,” Palumbo recalls.
Facing east on U.S. 23 with a beautiful view of Tawas Bay and a city park, the brewpub serves handcrafted, scratch-made fare utilizing local supplies and produce whenever possible. The menu includes smoked brisket tacos and smoked French onion soup, among many other dishes.
Although the menu attracts plenty of repeat business, the beer and cocktails are so good, they say, boaters will pull up as close as possible to the city park beach, then wade to shore to pick up to-go orders or top off growlers.
The Boathouse offers 10 different beers on tap, most of which are brewed in-house in a two-barrel system. Flavors include Tawas Beach Blonde, Gravelly Shoal IPA, and Belgian Joie Du Lac (Joy of the Lake).
Thankfully, the city began installing new day slips across from the restaurant this spring, so once they’re complete, loyal patrons arriving by boat should be able to stay dry as they make their way to the Boathouse Beer Co. & Boozery’s front doors.
Boathouse Beer Co. & Boozery