Northern Initiatives Prosperity. Money and Know How

The Bird and the Bear Grill

Roscommon, Michigan

“In March of 2020 we reached the point where we knew we couldn’t sit around and wait for things to happen. Instead we recreated our concept so it could generate the sales needed to be successful but also in a way that kept our customers engaged.” – Nancy Miller, owner of The Bird and the Bear Grill

 
The Bird and the Bear Grill started in Roscommon in 2018 as a local diner by Nancy and Jim Miller. A Northern Initiatives loan allowed the couple to purchase a building and equipment, and have working capital for the first few months of operation.

 
The diner was immediately both popular and profitable since it opened with breakfast, lunch, and baked goods service. Customer demand surpassed what was expected to be seasonal summer business into one with profitably throughout the entire year. Over time, the Nancy and Jim expanded their building’s backroom for dining and holding senior and small community events as well as selling local gift items.

 
When COVID19 restrictions went into place in March of 2020, Nancy and Jim rethought their business model, adjusting to changing requirements and customers’ needs.

 
Online Ordering & Curbside Pickup

  • Jim helped build a drive through window on the side of the restaurant for pickup of to-go breakfast and lunch menu items.
  • Weekly dinners to-go were put in place through a company website that was developed. These dinners have routinely sold out and have added needed sales.

 
Local Good Market

  • Nancy took the former dining room and put together a local market featuring Made in Michigan gift items along with high demand grocery staples that otherwise were not available in the immediate area.
  • Northern Initiatives Business Services assisted with the store concept and daily retail checklists for the store as well as identifying new items with significant margins.

 
Helping Their Community

  • Jim and Nancy work some mornings preparing free meals for local elderly residents and first responders. The “Love card” program takes suggestions from their local customers in choosing the recipients.

 
By late April 2020 overall sales were at 60% of what they were during the same time in 2019. Early summer sales were close to 2019 same date levels. Recently, a park like space at the back of the store featuring family friendly picnic tables have been added for outdoor picnic type eating.

 
The key was looking for potential opportunities in the face of uncertainty.

 
By lowering operating expenses and adding retail offerings, Nancy and Jim believe they can remain profitable into the future while continuing to be an important gathering place for their local Roscommon / Higgins Lake community.

 

The Bird and the Bear Grill

  • By June 2020 The Bird and the Bear had returned to its previous 2019 employee levels of three full-time and three part time employees.