West End Tavern sold

·3 min read

May 12—TRAVERSE CITY — When Mike and Sheila Connors were looking to sell West End Tavern, it was an easy call to make.

It was one the Connors had previously made.

The Connors, who opened West End Tavern at 12719 S. West Bay Shore Drive in 2016, closed on the sale of the business Wednesday to local restauranteurs Jeff Lobdell and Scott Parkhurst from Restaurant Partners Management LLC.

The Connors previously sold Apache Trout Grill at 13671 S. West Bay Shore Drive in 2018.

"As Mike and I head into our next adventures, we find great comfort in handing the reins to Jeff and Scott's company," Shelia Connors said in a release announcing the sale. "They have a great reputation for taking care of staff and guests and preserving their brands. We are happy to be leaving West End Tavern in good hands."

Sheila and Mike Connors bought the former Harbor 22 Bar and Grill in late October 2015, less than a month after the business closed. The Connors opened West End Tavern in 2016.

West End Tavern and Apache Trout Grill give Grand Rapids-based Restaurant Partners Management LLC six restaurants in Traverse City. Parkhurst is the operating partner for Restaurant Partners LLC and manages the restaurants in TC, which include the Omelette Shoppe locations, Flap Jack Shack and Boone's Prime Time Pub in Suttons Bay.

Restaurant Partners Management LLC acquired Sugar Beach and Grand Beach Resort Hotels in early March on East Grand Traverse Bay. Grand Beach Resort Hotel is at 1683 U.S. 31 North, Sugar Beach Resort Hotel is next door at 1773 U.S. 31 North.

"The timing was right," said Lobdell, who grew up and still spends time in the summer in Traverse City, where his parents reside. "They approached me and we made it work. There's some good synergy not only with Apache Trout Grill and West End Tavern, the breakfast places and the two resorts, Grand Beach and Sugar Beach."

The deal to acquire West End Tavern closed on Wednesday. Lobdell said that's when all the employees were hired over.

"All the revenue and all the bills became ours," Lobdell joked.

The acquisition of West End Tavern also fits well with Restaurant Partners Management, which also owns and operates 15 independent locations in the Grand Rapids area. Their brands can be found at www.4gr8food.com.

"Restaurant Partners Management and 4GR8Food brands mission is to provide a great experience for the guests, staff and community," Parkhurst said in a release.

"The West End Tavern, adjacent to the West Shore Marina, is a wonderful restaurant with a fantastic reputation for friendly service and great food, and I know it will continue to provide a wonderful community gathering place," Lobdell said in the release.

Lobdell doesn't anticipate West End Tavern looking much different to customers. But he would like to expand operations at the business, which wasn't open seven days a week or for lunches for big stretches of last summer.

It's a familiar issue in a tight labor market.

"No big changes other than an effort to beef up the staff a little bit," Lobdell said. "Being a little bigger company, we may have a little deeper reserve when it comes to benefits."

Lobdell serves on the board of directors for the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association as a past chair and is the treasurer for the National Restaurant Association.

"There are some good opportunities out there," Lobdell said. "I love the hospitality industry and tourism."