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The Black Heron to serve Michigan-centric dishes in support of agrotourism

Laura and Seth Porter are opening a New American cuisine themed restaurant on Bridge Street where major revitalization efforts are taking place along the block.
Seth and Laura Porter

Seth and Laura Porter /Eric Tank

Underwriting support from:
428 Bridge Street

428 Bridge Street /Eric Tank

Main entrance on Bridge Street

Main entrance on Bridge Street /Eric Tank

A new restaurant is in the works at 428 Bridge Street and plans to be remodeled and up and running by November. The Black Heron, a New American cuisine restaurant with bar serving lunch and dinner is settling onto a West Side strip that is seeing a revitalization. 

Seth and Laura Porter had been toying with the idea of opening a restaurant for a couple of years now. Laura Porter, a West Side native, is spearheading the project and chose the area for its heritage and proximity to the river and downtown. 

The menu will feature sausages, an homage to the Polish and Latino cultures both prevalent on the West Side. Laura Porter wants to push the traditional in new directions by also featuring creative artisan sausages such as duck with figs and bacon. They plan to rotate recipes throughout the year. Another unique menu item The Black Heron will offer is poutine, a Canadian dish of fries, cheese curds and gravy. 

On tap will be local beers and Michigan ciders with a full line of Michigan spirits.  

"We see that [spirits] market exploding in the next couple of years," says Seth Porter, who also operates the Michigan Beer Blog.

They hope to have six ciders on tap with three being confirmed at this point that include Vander Mill, Sietsema and Virtue Ciders

The couple's appreciation for craft beer comes from an agricultural standpoint- which is why they chose to do the restaurant instead of a brewery. 

"We want to celebrate everything Michigan has to offer, not just the great beer scene," says Laura Porter. 

"We love agrotourism," says Seth Porter. "We want to bring that to the restaurant."

The 3,600 square feet of dining space will have a bar on the west end made with up-cycled wood from the ceiling, and seating on the east end, with a partition between the bar area and the dining area to break up the atmosphere. Bistro tables will line the east wing parameter with a drink rail on the northwest wall. The original terrazzo floors are going to polished and the original bolstering trusses will be cleaned up and exposed. The space seats 85. 

According to Seth Porter the building, owned by city commissioner Walt Gutowski, dates to about 1913 or 1914 and was primarily an auto dealership with a garage on the south end. The facade will remain intact and the cinder blocks will be replaced with windows on the Bridge Street side, reflecting the original design. 

The couple is interested in collaborative efforts with other area businesses to engage the community.

"We always want to reflect what the neighborhood stands for," says Seth Porter. "This is our community and we want to take part in this community and we want to celebrate both this community and this state."

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