MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – Fatima and William Roberson have dreamed for years of opening their own nightclub – a restaurant and bar where people can relax and enjoy jazz – but they couldn’t find the right location in the city of their choice, Muskegon Heights.
But then they spoke to the community’s city manager, Troy Bell, who suggested a location beyond their wildest dreams: the massive, unused lodge at the city’s Mona Lake Park.
Eventually, their plans began to materialize. And next year, they plan to open the Brown Suga Lounge and Event Center in the two-story brick pavilion a few hundred yards from the water’s edge.
âWe have a vision that completely changes this whole space,â William Roberson told MLive.
The Vision includes a ‘trendy upscale’ restaurant and bar on the ground floor offering soul food, Caribbean dishes and signature cocktails. A second-floor event center, a concession stand with an ice cream parlor, and kayak and pedal boat rentals are also part of the plans.
âWe want to use it as a space where we can bring people together,â Fatima Roberson said. “Anytime you can get a view of the water, it’s always a good thing.”
The Robersons plan to invest $ 375,000 in the town pavilion, which they call Mona Lake Lodge, and open it not just as a business, but as a “community asset” for events such as movie nights. for children.
âI remember it when I was little,â Fatima Roberson said of Mona Lake Park and the old lodge concession. “They had community festivals thereâ¦ It brings back fond memories of my childhood that I wish the kids could experience now.”
She grew up in Muskegon Heights and taught there in schools before taking a teaching position at Muskegon High School. He grew up in Twin Lake and attended Muskegon Public Schools, before graduating from Whitehall. He worked as a social worker for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for 12 years before founding Shoreline Staffing.
The two feel deeply connected to Muskegon Heights and want to deliver the high-end dining and entertainment experience that they believe residents of the city aspire to. The location, just 200 feet from the waterfront of Lake Mona is the perfect draw.
âI think it’s about time Muskegon Heights received this love that’s happening everywhere else,â said William Roberson. âWatch Us Go is awesome – and everything happening downtown. I just feel like Muskegon Heights is being left behind.
âWe want to give people a reason to come to Muskegon Heights. “
The Robersons have a detailed business plan for Brown Suga, including a restaurant menu, which has city council backing. They are now working out the details of an operating agreement for the lodge.
The arrangement will be similar to the Town of Muskegon’s long-term lease for its popular beachfront restaurant operated by Harris Hospitality under the name The Deck.
The couple are also working to obtain a liquor license for the establishment under a special provision for redevelopment project areas. The 7,800 square foot pavilion has been closed to the public for several years.
The Robersons enlisted Chef Brandon Johnson, a recent graduate of the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, to help develop a menu focused on âcomfort food with a twistâ. This includes the lobster mac and cheese, lamb chops, shrimp and oatmeal, braised oxtails, and sweet potato muffins.
âThe Real Vibeâ they are looking for includes a large open concept with lake views and a stage for live music.
Upstairs, the event center will house Fatima Roberson’s event planning and decorating company, Exquisite Dreams.
âWe always have parties,â said William Roberson. âWe know what people want.
It will be nearly a year before the Robersons are ready to unveil their new destination on the lake. They are planning a big opening celebration on June 17 in 2022.
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