By Scott Sullivan
New owners of the former Zing Eat/Drink martini bar told Douglas City Council Dec. 16 their new venture there — a specialty market, grill and new four-season events building —would be named Isabel’s Market, after a pioneer Douglas resident.
“All we know about Isabel,” said Elizabeth Estes — who with Mary Fechtig, Garnet Lewis and Vicki Cobb bought the 1.13-acre site, former restaurant and residence at the 310 Blue Star Hwy. south gateway parcel from Mill Pond Realty owner-broker Laura Durham in June — “is from Douglas United Church of Christ research from the 125th anniversary.”
That’s not nothing. The daughter of Hugh Graham, known as the church builder, was born in Douglas in 1871 and raised there.
Graham became a successful teacher and businesswoman in Chicago, never married and left her estate to a niece, nephew, woman friend Nona Butterfield, Planned Parenthood and DUCC.
She died in 1954, had her ashes buried in Douglas Cemetery and left the church $5,000 in blue-chip stocks. That investment matured and is seed today for much of DUCC’s local beneficence.
Isabel’s Market, said Estes, will continue in that tradition, citing a Robert Louis Stevenson quote — “Judge each day not by the harvest your reap, but the seeds you plant” — as its credo.
The women’s $1.2-million venture, Estes told council, will offer a:
- Farm stand meets European market featuring fresh produce, seafood and meat; pasta made in house and market goods;
- Street food eatery;
- 2,346-square-foot four-season event space where the current west patio is, with catering and liquor license. Special events might include visiting chefs, cookbook authors, sommeliers and others;
- A podcast studio, promoted to drive interest in the location and teach those who are intreested in culinary, travel and authentic experiences; and
- “Giving back as part of our ethos,” Estes said. “We want to work with local businesses — high tides rise all ships — plus create and use sustainable packaging as much as possible.”
The Douglas planning commission Dec. 11 and council thereafter gave preliminary approvals for work on the C-2 General Commercial parcel, includes a 4,267-square-foot former restaurant, full kitchen, exterior courtyard, Class C liquor license, 1,816 square-foot upstairs housing two apartments and 50 on-site parking spaces, plus 16 per easement in adjacent parking area.
The highly-visible site has a colorful history in Douglas, having passed from the Mi-Ro Restaurant, which featured a horse sculpture atop its sign, to an ambitious but underfunded Blue Moon Bar & Grille, claimed eventually by foreclosure.
Chicago marketing businessman Jim Petzing bought it in 2011 as restaurant/martini bar hosting events and poker classes on its patio. As Saugatuck-Douglas Business Association president, he became highly-critical of local governmental business policies.
On December 2015, after running unsuccessfully for Douglas City Council, he announced he planned to leave town and sell the business for a $799,000 asking price, move to Las Vegas and become a professional poker player.
Durham bought it at auction in March 2018 for $379,000. Terms of its sale in June to the women were not disclosed.