Across from the shores of Crystal Lake, just outside of the city deemed the “Cherry Capital of the World”, there lies the nationally recognized Cherry Hut – a Northern Michigan tradition since 1922. If you do the math, you’ll notice that the Cherry Hut is proudly celebrating its 100th season in business. Today, the Cherry Hut is both a restaurant serving classic American entrees and cherry-themed desserts and a retailer providing visitors with popular cherry goods and souvenirs.

However, the Hut has humble beginnings. In 1922, the Kraker family opened the Cherry Hut as a roadside pie stand that sold fresh pie and other products made with cherries from the family orchard. “Cherry Jerry”, the Hut’s signature emblem, is the iconic smiling pie face that was carved into the crust of every pie during the opening season of the original Cherry Hut. In 1959, ownership of the business changed hands and it has since been run by the Case family. Now, Cherry Jerry’s grinning face can be spotted from a mile away, as he is immortalized in the form of a wooden sign hanging in front of the Cherry Hut building that houses business operations today.

Cherry Jerry Outside

Cherry Jerry Inside

I took a drive out to the Cherry Hut this week, and as a first-time visitor, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Upon entering, my coworker and I were greeted by a friendly, smiling host who welcomed us into the restaurant. Christy Case, one of the owners of the Cherry Hut, took us to a booth by the window and treated us to a complimentary lunch followed by a mouth-watering dessert of cherry pie á la mode. After 100 years, the Cherry Hut has not only perfected the home-cooked meal but the entire comforting, nostalgic experience. After my meal, I had the opportunity to sit down with Christy Case. When asked about the instances in which the Cherry Hut has been nationally recognized in publications like The Oprah Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, Christy shared that the features have been about “the atmosphere; not just the food, but the experience. The Cherry Hut experience.”

Resoundingly positive customer sentiment is a testament to the comfort and familiarity of the cherished Cherry Hut experience. Many patrons have said, “We just appreciate that in this ever-changing world, the Cherry Hut is one constant in our life.” Consistency is one of the things that the Case family prides themselves on. Some of the menu items have remained the same for the last 100 years, like the original turkey sandwich and the recipe for the renowned cherry pie. They even have the original Cherry Jerry pie stamp which is currently on display at Camp Arcadia. Christy assured me that there would be five generations coming to eat at the restaurant this summer and it is their goal to provide the same experience to the fifth generation as they did to the first generation.

Food at The Cherry Hut

Cherry Pie at The Cherry Hut

The Cherry Hut epitomizes the American ideal of the family-owned and -operated business. Christy and Andy Case both work full-time at the restaurant and are parents to two young boys, ages ten and fourteen, who also help out at the business in any capacity they are needed, from dishwashing to hosting. But the Cherry Hut family is thicker than blood and extends to the loyal staff and alumni. The proof is in the workers’ longevity: The kitchen manager is starting his 51st year, there is a kitchen prep worker who has been around for 38 years, and a manager who has worked at the Hut since high school and is in his 27th year of service. Christy shared that many of their staff members have been around for 20+ years and said, “We try to do something special with our staff each season, just because it’s a seasonal business and for them to come back year after year is really important to us.” Seeing the same faces at the Cherry Hut each summer contributes to the consistency and unchanging quality of the business that is deeply appreciated by customers and gives the restaurant its allure.

Some of the most popular items on the menu include the cherry chicken salad, the local, fresh roasted, turkey, and of course – the cherry pie. According to Christy, some folks are under the impression that The Cherry Hut solely offers cherry-related items. She remarks, “It’s not just ‘cherry’. It’s a wide variety of All-American food. You’re not gonna get gourmet food here, you’re not gonna get something that you can’t pronounce, it’s just good, old-fashioned, home-cooked food.” In essence, both the food and the ambiance at the Cherry Hut are things you can count on.

The Cherry Hut Book

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Cherry Hut, a book detailing the 100-year history of the business with stories from both staff and customers was written by Claudia C. Breland and is currently available for purchase at the Hut. Not to mention, the building underwent renovations during the past year and now boasts a new, private dining area and additional space for souvenirs, merchandise, and food products. The Cherry Hut is located at 211 N. Michigan Avenue, Beulah, MI, 49617. Head out that way this summer and help the Cherry Hut family celebrate their centennial!