The Fitz (aka The Eagle River Inn and Fitzgerald’s Restaurant) is the sort of place I’m surprised isn’t famous across the Upper Peninsula. But if the current owners keep doing what they’ve been doing, it will be before long. In fact, I’ve already witnessed “word” spreading.
This is not the sort of place I expected to find far north in the rugged Keweenaw Peninsula. But man, am I ever glad it’s there!
Built in 1957 and originally called the Swank Beach Motel, Fitzgerald’s Eagle River Inn was purchased by the LaMotte family in 1980 and remodeled into its current form. Mike LaMotte (son of Jim LaMotte who purchased the establishment in 1980) and his friend Marc Rea run the business now and do an excellent job. They’ve injected a cool, youthful entrepreneurial energy into the place.
For example, they got interested in whiskey, it went over well, and now they have over 100 fine whiskeys on hand. They got interested in barbecue and that went over well, so they’ve now upgraded their smoker and do even more barbecue. They had an interest in craft beer and they now have a craft beer selection that rivals any other establishment in Michigan (it was over 100 different types, last I heard).
Part of what sets The Fitz apart is the setting. The building is situated on a beach facing Lake Superior, so the dining room and all guest rooms have a gorgeous view of the water. It’s the only beachfront dining I’ve seen in the Upper Peninsula, and according to one avid sailor my wife and I met at the bar, it’s the only beachfront dining on all of Lake Superior.
The menu at The Fitz, while ever-evolving, always has a terrific range of options. My first time here I had the BBQ pulled pork sandwich and my wife had a burger, and both were awesome. They also did a great job catering to our young kids, which was a pleasant surprise.
I’ve since been back a few times and have had most of their appetizers and many of their mains. Everything has been excellent, and I can assure you that whenever I mention The Fitz on my Facebook page the consensus is clear: everyone loves this place.
The guest rooms have all been recently renovated and feel very much like the type of room you’d expect to find at a Lake Superior beach-side inn. The words “airy,” “breezy” and “fresh,” come to mind. White pine accent panels and fluffy white bedding adorn each room along with a refrigerator, microwave. And since the food portions they dish out are far from small, that fridge and microwave will likely come in handy.
The beach in front of The Fitz is beautiful, expansive, and not at all busy. It’s the perfect place for a post-dinner walk on the beach, or a morning run after you’ve stayed at the Inn. The beach in front of The Fitz leads into the beach at Great Sand Bay, which is an excellent area for swimming, paddling, or catching some sun.
And to top it all off, the owners and everyone I’ve met at The Fitz are some of the nicest, most helpful people you could imagine. I’ve been here with kids, without kids, mid-day, late-night, and just stopping through to say hi and the service has always been excellent.
I would even go so far as to say The Fitz is more than just a “must-see” when you’re in the Keweenaw. It’s a destination all on its own.
Bottom line: The Fitz (aka The Eagle River Inn and Fitzgerald’s Restaurant) in Eagle River is a must-see. It’s a wonderful place to stay, to dine, and/or to sample some awesome craft beer or fine whiskey. This place is a true Upper Peninsula gem.
Address: 5033 Front Street Eagle River, MI 49950
Phone: (906) 337-0666