Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Guest Blogger: Cindy Evans and The Soup Cup

Up north, we are craving springtime something fierce. Alas, it's still chilly out these days, and a few more dustings of snow aren't out of the question just yet; we have a bit longer until we are free from Winter and on to Summer. That said, there are some perks to this cold Spring: plenty of more delicious meals at The Soup Cup Microsouperie! YP Cindy Evans brings us the inside scoop on this off-the-beaten-path-but-TOTALLY-worth-it local favorite. 

Does this "blah" Spring weather have you down? These cold temperatures call for one thing...SOUP. There is nothing like a hot steaming bowl of soup to warm you up after a day of braving the elements to get to work, or dropping the kids off at school.

Most restaurants offer the hot tasty delight in a couple of different options, but The Soup Cup takes it to another level.  When you walk in, you will see spread across the front counter eight large black pots filled with different soups, all for you to sample before making a choice. The employees are quick to greet while encouraging you to sample their offerings for the day.  

They change their soups daily , so if you’re adventurous and like to try new things, this is a place worth checking out.  They offer a range of great sandwiches that are made fresh to accompany your soup.  I ordered the grilled cheese, and they offered me the usual cheeses but, also, some unique ones to choose from with a variety of bread options. It was brought to me straight from the grill, perfectly toasted and deliciously gooey.  

One of their most popular items are the Authentic Belgian Fries made from freshly cut potatoes, that are twice fried and served with your choice of their 21 special sauces.  After I had ordered, I saw a basket of the fries brought out, all I can say is,” I definitely want to go back to try them.” I was trying to make a healthy choice at this visit, but they are just too tempting not to try. 

Their menu is written on large chalkboards that line the side and back counter with details of the ingredients in each soup.  It is easy to locate healthy options and find the prices for each item. They are Gluten-Free and Vegan friendly. They use fresh, local, and Michigan ingredients. The small soup and grilled cheese I ordered came to just under $10. 

The prices are very fair and the portions are  generous. I usually check out restaurant ratings on the UrbanSpoon before I decide to spend my money at a new place. UrbanSpoon has a website but also an app for your smartphone where you can easily look up a restaurant and read reviews from customers, see ratings from voters, view pictures posted by customers from their order, see information on price range, and so much more.  The Soup Cup, at the time I looked it up had an 88% like it vote with many positive reviews.  I was able to see a menu before I got there, view the hours they are open, and get directions.  It’s very a helpful tool if you like to know more about a place and see what others have to say.

The Soup Cup is located at 620-B Railroad Place, or otherwise known as the old train depot.  It is next to the Traverse Area District Library on Woodmere.  They are open Tuesday-Friday 11-4pm and Sat. 11-3. It’s a fun little lunch place with various seating options. They have picnic tables in the front if you’re more social, and would like to enjoy some conversation with a group or other customers. They also have stools that face a bar along the window so, if you want to be more secluded you can sit and enjoy your soup watching the world go by. They have another section in the back of the restaurant that has more standard tables and seating.  

Also worth noting, they only accept cash. So beat this cold Spring weather, and get out there for lunch, and try some scrumptious soup! The Soup Cup is a great little treasure hidden in Traverse City.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recap: Roundtable Discussion with Governor Rick Snyder

Well, well! Last week was a BIG week for the Traverse CIty Young Professionals. We were contacted by the Michigan Govenor's office a while back about hosting a roundtable discussion with Governor Rick Snyder. A lot of planning and organization went into making this happening, but the outcome was incredible. 

Last Friday, at an invitation-only event, fifteen YPs from different businesses and backgrounds sat at a table with Governor Snyder to ask him questions and give him feedback about what young professionals want for our wonderful state of Michigan. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I was so honored to be invited and snap some photos. 

There was a lot of hubbub before the roundtable discussion started. I walked around the room and chatted with familiar faces and met some new folks, too. Our panelists, selected by their industry or expertise in our community, took their seats at the table and awaited the Governor's arrival. 

Honestly, this was about as close to any public governmental figure as I've ever been, and I was pretty nervous that I was going to trip over a speaker cord or something and make a huge fool of myself. And I wasn't even asking a question! I can only imagine how nerve-wracked our panelists were, but as I expected, they did a fantastic job. 

Governor Snyder took his place at the head of the table, next to Kent Wood from the TC Chamber. Kent gave some opening remarks, as did Governor Snyder, and then the conversation worked its way around the table as each of our panelists asked their question. Here is a summary of the YPs that were present and the topics they chose: 

Jessica Wheaton (TC Light & Power): Promoting/incentivizing staying in Michigan for current residents. "Live Michigan"

Warren Call (Huntington National Bank): Support for Michigan's water resources and combatting invasive species

Allison Beers (Events North): Future of public education in Michigan

Rachel Johnson (Cherryland Electric): Growing & sustaining diverse economic development

Josh Janowiak (Platinum Sound): Transportation and road funding 

Jeff Fedorinchik (Hallmark Construction): Incentivizing/Encouraging young people to join trades

Drew Bucholz (Interlochen Center for the Arts): Arts and cultural funding

Shannon Owen (Northwestern Michigan College): Higher education funding

Bryan Taggert (Larkin Group): Tax reform in Michigan 

Andrew Kohlman (Image 360): Struggles for "green" businesses

Todd Sanders (Sanders Solutions): More YP involvement in Government

Marie Chantal-Delese (Chateau Chantal): Regulation for farm/food industry

Lee Michaels (Cherry Capital Foods): Creating a career market place for future workforce

Tracy Wittkop (Munson Healthcare): Northern Michigan Rural OB health service funding

As a young professional living in Michigan, I was so pleased with all the questions posed by our panel. Support for small businesses and farming, concerns about education at all levels, needs for better public and bicycle transportation, concerns about protecting our Great Lakes, and making entrepreneurship more accessible for young people…yes, please! These are all issues near and dear to my heart, and to have the Governor in the room responding to all our concerns--truly having our voices heard--that is something that is unlikely to come around again for our organization. What a privilege!

Governor Snyder did a great job listening to our concerns and understanding our wants for this state. He wanted to know what encourages young people to find a place in Michigan to call home, and also asked us to get involved in our local communities. He is working to build more trails in Michigan, but asks that the trail users work to make trails open for all kinds of activities, not specialized and limited to only a few. Greater pre-K education funding will hopefully make an impact across our entire education system, and upgrades in technology will help teachers as they work with students learning at different paces. Agriculture and arts are important topics to Governor Snyder, and he is pushing for more funding and support into these areas, as well as making it easier for young entrepreneurs to access funding for their businesses.

For us young professionals, we are constantly looking to improve our life/work balance: we want a place that fosters creativity and community, but also provides us with a steady, challenging job and a means to provide for ourselves and our families. Quality of life is the name of our game. Lucky for us, Governor Snyder agreed with the importance of these two issues, and encouraged all of us to get involved in our communities and continue building upon the wonderful foundation we all have in here Traverse City. 

One of my favorite quotes from Governor Snyder was, "Do you want to be another yuppie in Chicago, or do you want to make a difference in Detroit?" Although we are far from Detroit, the message is the same: we live in a place where our voices, our opinions, and our choices make a difference. As citizens in this town, we can make a difference in transforming our economy and bringing others to the place we call home; we can share all the goodness to be found in Michigan. 

We are young, but we are mighty, and we have the power to positively impact the place we live and help make it better for all. Personally, that is the kind of place I want to call home, and I am so glad to have that in Traverse City. Regardless of your political beliefs, getting involved in your local governance and community efforts can shape the place you live. So get out there, and get your voice heard!

All in all, it was a great experience to have this conversation with the Governor. I was so proud to see my friends up there, asking tough questions and wanting answers for their concerns about the future of our state. 

Congratulations to all the YPs selected for the roundtable discussion, and a big "thank you" to Governor Snyder for sitting down and taking the time to listen to what we have to say!

Friday, April 11, 2014

YP Social Event - Low Bar

Last night, we had our first YP social event of the year at a new place in town, called Low Bar. It is underneath the Seven Monks Tap Room (a tried-and-true favorite locale of mine). I was really excited to see what Low Bar had was all about, since I'm a HUGE fan of Seven Monks

Low Bar has a whole different vibe to it than any other place I've seen in TC. For one, it is DARK down there...but it's a dark in a cool way. Like, secret-underground-hangout-with-the-best-booze-in-town kind of dark. In a way, it's totally appropriate because it is inspired by the Prohibition Era. Low Bar prides itself on being a high-end spirits and specialty concoctions destination, and they set the mood right. Heck, even the staff gets into character and dress up fancy to make it feel like every drink you order is the best drink you'll find in town (and it very well may be). 

There was a great YP turnout, too! I saw a lot of familiar faces but also some new faces, which is always nice for mingling. Low Bar is a small place, perfect for an event like this where YPs stroll around and chat with each other. You're bound to bump elbows with someone you haven't met yet, and I like that. People stuck around for a few hours, and I've no doubt that it's because they were drinking good drinks, in a good place, with good company.

Thanks to all the YPs who made it out last night! 

Remember, today is our Roundtable Discussion with Governor Snyder. Stay tuned to our Facebook page starting at 3:00 for live, up-to-the-minute updates from this incredible event and conversation! I'll post a recap about the event early next week, so if you miss the Facebook feed, there will still be plenty to share here on the blog. 

Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring Break at the State Theatre

It's Spring Break for the local schools here in Traverse City! For those of us left here in town and not sitting on the beach drinking Mai Tais (sigh...), we're still treated to our own mini-vacation. There are fewer cars driving around, less people on the streets, and yesterday it was 50 degrees outside! Folks were wearing t-shirts, kids rode around downtown on skateboards, and everyone optimistically swapped out their winter coats for lighter spring jackets. We know Spring hasn't totally arrived, but 50 degree weather feels like 70 degrees after six months of cold.

My favorite thing about Spring Break, though, is how the State Theatre celebrates: FREE MOVIES ALL WEEK! Yes, you read that right: FREE. MOVIES. ALL. WEEK.

For me, the State is one of TC's prized jewels. The renovations that went into this building gave it a brand-new life, and the volunteers who dedicate their time to make every movie a truly incredible experience give the State its heart and soul. If a new movie comes out that I want to see, I'll wait until the State shows it instead of going to a big-box theatre. Watching a movie at the State is an affordable luxury, and I've never seen a bad movie there or had a bad time. 

We picked up our free tickets (from the box office right at the theatre) for "Pulp Fiction" and "Star Trek: Into Darkness" this week. Last night we saw "Pulp Fiction," and man...what an awesome movie to see on the big screen!

 The lobby was decorated, popcorn was popping, and everyone was working hard. The wonderful State volunteers kept the crowds happy last night, per usual. They seriously run this place. I've volunteered at the State on many occasions, and if it's something that interests you, why not go with the YPs? We have a group of YPs that staff the State every month, and you can't beat the perks (free popcorn and pop, a pass for a free movie, and you usually get to watch what's playing). Contact Erika and Rachel for more details.

Anyway, we skipped dinner so we could indulge in a giant bucket of popcorn. Seriously, I can't pass up popcorn at a movie. 

If you've never been to the State, feast your eyes on this beautiful theatre:

Now THAT is a movie theatre, my friends. It is worth a trip to TC just to relax in those lush, lean-back seats and stare in awe at the masterpiece that is the State. 

If you can't tell, I'm just totally obsessed with this place. The State, to me, treats movies the way they should be treated...and that is a rare thing to find in today's fast-paced, mass consumer culture where everything is about quantity, not quality. The State is all about delivering quality: quality movies, quality ambiance, and a quality experience. I didn't know that watching movies could be a holistic experience until the State came along and set the bar (really, really) high. When someone says, "We saw it at the State," it goes without saying that they saw a film they enjoyed and had an experience like nowhere else; they have set the standard of film-viewing for us TC folks, and created a sense of community. 

There are still a few days left for the State's free movie extravaganza! The schedule is below. Treat yourself to a (great) free movie while there's still time...you've earned it after this winter!

Percy Jackson: Sea of MonstersPG
10:00 am – FREE!
Lee Daniels’ The ButlerPG-13
12:30 pm – FREE!
The Book ThiefPG-13
3:30 pm – FREE!
The Great GatsbyPG-13
9:30 pm – FREE!

Bijou by the Bay:
10:30 am, 1:00 pm
Normal Ticket Rates Apply
Bijou by the Bay:
Veronica MarsPG-13
3:30, 6:00, 8:30 pm
Normal Ticket Rates Apply
State Theatre: SPRING BREAK!
The Bachelor And The Bobby-SoxerNR
10:30 am – FREE!
1:00 pm – FREE!
3:30 pm – FREE!
6:45 pm – FREE!
Boogie NightsR
9:30 pm – FREE!

Bijou by the Bay:
10:00 am, 12:30 pm
Normal Ticket Rates Apply
Bijou by the Bay:
Veronica MarsPG-13
3:30, 6:00, 8:30 pm
Normal Ticket Rates Apply
10:00 am – FREE!
12:45 pm – FREE!
World War ZPG-13
3:45 pm – FREE!
Man of SteelPG-13
6:45 pm – FREE!
Star Trek: Into DarknessPG-13
10:00 pm – FREE!

Bijou by the Bay:
11:30 am, 4:45 pm
Normal Ticket Rates Apply
Bijou by the Bay:
Veronica MarsPG-13
2:00, 7:15, 9:30 pm
Normal Ticket Rates Apply
State Theatre:

Fantastic Mr. FoxPG
10:00 am – FREE!
State Theatre:
The Grand Budapest HotelR
1:00, 3:30, 6:00, 8:30 pm
State Theatre: Friday Night Flicks
Fast Times At Ridgemont HighR
11:00 pm