Success stories

Karl’s Cuisine

Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

“All Chefs want their own restaurant,” Karl Nelson states. “It’s the ultimate goal!” One that serves up fresh, local food made from scratch, paired with a glass of wine from your own winery, and enjoyed while watching a 1,000-foot-long freighter floating by – that’s Karl’s Cuisine and Winery! Goal met!

Using items freshly harvested from his 40-acre family farm or goods from other local growers, Karl prepares delicacies that show his appreciation for fresh, healthy food. Karl’s wife Paula shares his passion for great food and runs the front of the house. Daughter Lillian manages the family winery, Superior Coast, which supplies wines for the restaurant and is sold locally. Launched in 2003, this Sault Ste. Marie-based business has grown annually.

When the Nelsons decided to transition from a home-based catering service to a full-blown family business they turned to Northern Initiatives for needed capital. As a loan customer, the Nelsons quickly took advantage of the services available through Northern Initiative’s Business Advancement Center. The Nelsons expressed strong appreciation for QuickBooks training. Today they combine a keen understanding of how to use financials to run their business, Karl’s culinary talents, and Paula’s management skills to create the perfect recipe for success.

Between the resources offered by NI and the hard work and dedication displayed by Karl and Paula, they have seen their business expand and make a real impact in their community. When a winery was added in 2010, Karl and Paula seized the opportunity to specialize in pairing specific wines with the dishes they serve. Using Superior Coast wines they suggest wine parings with each meal and incorporate the wine in much of Karl’s cooking. Between the winery and the increased operations at the restaurant, 11 new jobs were created. Today the business supports 21 employees. Nearly half of these employees are the head of the household and dependent on the living wage this small business provides.

Karl’s Cuisine Impacts:

  • Jobs Created: 5 FTE
  • Jobs Retained: 6.5 FTE
  • Added Winery
  • Expanded Menu and Hours of Operations


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