An ‘Up North’ lodge in the middle of nowhere is UP’s best open-air restaurant


GWINN, MI – It really takes an effort to visit The Up North Lodge.

It’s in the middle of nowhere, that is, in the middle of the Upper Peninsula, if you live in Michigan.

Heck, the entire UP is in the middle of nowhere, according to national social media posts that often intersect the entire peninsula on Michigan maps.

“We’re a pretty unique place,” said Jesie Melchiori, general manager of The Up North Lodge in Gwinn, which is located about 165 miles west of the Mackinac Bridge and over half an hour south of Marquette, through winding roads, of course.

“It’s not like we’re forgotten, but it’s hard to reach us. … We are more of a destination, ”she added.

The UP North Lodge was our official “poll winner” for Michigan’s Best Outdoor Restaurant on the Upper Peninsula. He beat the Pine Stump restaurant in Newberry, which came in second.

The outdoor tent at the Up North Lodge in Gwinn, Michigan.Courtesy of The Up North Lodge

Up North Lodge received 56% of the votes in the UP and the highest number of votes of any restaurant in all of our 11 regional polls. You could say they’re # 1 overall. They were also a stop for Michigan’s Best Bloody Mary in 2016, where we noted that each table ordered a slice of baby back ribs. (“He’s still our # 1 salesperson every night of the week,” Melchiori said.)

Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining

The Up North Lodge in Gwinn, Michigan is known for its famous Bloody Mary, made with a local blend.Courtesy of The Up North Lodge

The owners and crew of The Up North Lodge couldn’t be more excited to be Michigan’s best.

“We put a lot of work and effort into this backyard so that we can keep the restaurant going during the closure,” Melchiori said.

“It is difficult for small towns to be able to support several restaurants in their area during these times. Adding the exterior elements gave us a unique edge, and we had people traveling from all over to see the uniqueness of our backyard.

Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining

No igloos or greenhouses, The Up North Lodge in Gwinn, Michigan has outdoor fire pits, a few patio seating, and a tent.Courtesy of The Up North Lodge

In his email appointment to MLive, Melchiori wrote:

“Tucked away on the outskirts of Gwinn, this cozy log restaurant had to think outside the box to do it this winter! We were given lemons and made a hell of a lemonade stand, we opened up our backyard to create an amazing outdoor wonderland! Complete with tents for alfresco dining, an outdoor bar, 3 fireplaces and horse-drawn sleigh rides! ”

Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining

Draft horses take you on a sleigh ride to The Up North Lodge in Gwinn, Michigan.Courtesy of The Up North Lodge

The “backyard”, as the locals call it, is a popular spot even during the summer months with live music on Sunday afternoons, and in the winter people come from all over for walks. horse-drawn sleigh. The space just needed to be improved to fight against the cold.

In the first part of December, they added two more handmade fireplaces that featured bar tops, outdoor heaters and walls for a tent, as health department guidelines allow, Melchiori said. People started hanging out all weekend.

“Everything went well because it kept us busy when we could have done take out,” said Melchiori, who decided to keep the backyard open Friday through Sunday for the rest of the day. winter.

Being able to do this saved their business, “highly,” she added.

Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining

Interior view of The Up North Lodge, which has a capacity of nearly 200 people. It is located in Gwinn, Michigan.Courtesy of The Up North Lodge

Before the alfresco dining, they were making about 8% of regular sales throughout the shutdown.

With the backyard open, they now make about 26% of regular sales.

It’s still not great, but it’s better than nothing. “We figured out how to use winter and use this to our advantage,” Melchiori said.

They can’t wait to see locals, travelers, snowmobilers and those who just want to support a local business work hard to get through the pandemic.

Families go out for dinner. Couples for date night. And the teens go out for the ball. The wedding season usually features backyard parties, which can accommodate a few hundred people.

Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining

The Up North Lodge in Gwinn, Michigan is known for its ribs, where it’s “Every day is a rib day”!Courtesy of The Up North Lodge

And people love these juicy and delicious baby back ribs made with a secret recipe, and Bloody Marys made with Whitney’s famous Bloody Mary mix, which is based in the Upper Peninsula.

“We are famous by far for our coasts. Everyone loves ribs at Up North Lodge, ”said Melchiori, adding that“ every day is rib day!

The owners are Scott and Sally Searle, Roy Meni, Larry and Eunice Bertocchi, Vince and Mona Jean Rose and Cheryl Frisk.

Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining

The Up North Lodge in Gwinn, Michigan received the most votes in all of our polls for Michigan’s best outdoor dining.Courtesy of The Up North Lodge


The Lodge of the North

215 S. County Road 557, Gwinn, MI 49841


Current hours: 11 am-9pm Tuesday to Sunday. The outdoor dining room is open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

More information: or

Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining

The Up North Lodge team says ‘thank you’ for making this the best outdoor restaurant in UP.Courtesy of The Up North Lodge

The search for Michigan’s best outdoor restaurant is sponsored in part by Warm fitness.

Find Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining Along The White Pine Trail

Rockford Public Service employees light up the fireplaces at RORA (Rockford Outdoor Refreshment Area) on Thursday, February 4, 2021 in Rockford. (Davison Hope | hope Davison

More Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining Stories

A Michigan-made yurt village can be found here in Chelsea

10 great outdoor restaurants along the White Pine Trail

See all photos from RORA – Rockford Outdoor Refreshment Area

Operation Shantyville is an adventurous version of al fresco dining, supporting restaurants in the Bay Area

Play “River Rocks”, enjoy farm-to-table cuisine at this outdoor restaurant in southwest Michigan

Traditional Irish cuisine, tacos, and great service at Michigan’s best outdoor restaurant

See all nominations for Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining Room

How to Enjoy the Comfortable “Hygge” Lifestyle Outdoors in This Grand Rapids Location

The Kalamazoo brewery places radiators under the tables to create an outdoor “camping terrace”

Igloos, cabins, lodges and more: where to dine al fresco in Michigan this winter

If you have any questions about this research or suggestions for future research, please feel free to email us:

Jean Gonzalez: [email protected]

Amy Sherman: [email protected]

Follow our best Michigan adventures on social media:

@mlivemibest on Twitter

@mlivemibest on Instagram

Facebook on MLiveMIBest.

Participate using hashtags #mibest and # alfresco dining.


Jean Gonzalez is on twitter @michigangonzo, as well as Facebook and Instagram @MichiganGonzo.

Amy sherman is on twitter @amyonthetrail, as well as Facebook and Instagram @amyonthetrail.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.