Upon walking into a red building with blue hints in Elk Rapids, you find on the counter a crocodile head filled with matchsticks, and are surrounded by shelves of outrageously named hot sauces alongside an abundance of bourbon bottles from co-owner Palmer’s grandfather’s personal collection. This is Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen.
Open daily for lunch and dinner, and featuring a Sunday brunch, Pearl’s is the perfect place to stop in for a quick meal or to celebrate a special occasion. Pearl’s consists of culinary influences from all over the world and is a part of Magnum Hospitality, one of three restaurants started in 1997 by Mary Palmer, Fred “Magnum” Moore, and Jim Cartwright. Pearl’s specializes in southern dishes, such as Jambalaya and blackened alligator, with a festive atmosphere that features two different outdoor seating areas; perfect for enjoying a cocktail.
Inspired by the culture of New Orleans, Pearl’s stays true to celebrations. Standard events include a daily happy hour from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. There’s also “Po’ Boy and a Pint,” which is featured every Wednesday from Labor Day through Memorial Day, and lets you enjoy any sandwich plus your favorite pint for just $6.99. And on the first Thursday of every month, Pearl’s features a fundraiser called “Help Everyone Eat,” where 5% of their gross sales from that night are donated to Elk Rapids Community Cupboard.
In September there’s Pearl’s and Short’s Bluegrass, Bourbon, Blues, and Beer Festival. During this time, Pearl’s creates a mini menu (alongside their regular menu) that features purely items made with bourbon, all while a Bluegrass festival takes place in the parking lot. Last year this event raised $1,200 to help fund the TART Trail extension from Acme to Elk Rapids.
Taking place on June 21st is the Missy Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser, which benefits students in the Culinary Arts Program at Northwestern Michigan College. This event will also be held at Magnum Hospitality’s other locations: Red Mesa Grill in Traverse City and Boyne City, and Cafe Sante in Boyne City.
Owners Cartwright, Moore, and Palmer are big supporters of buying local. All of the soda served at Pearl’s is from Northwood Soda in Williamsburg, and all of the beers on tap are from Michigan, with the exception of one brew from New Orleans. The whitefish is also caught locally, along with all the produce that can possibly be obtained in Michigan.
Cartwright prides himself on working in an environment where people go to create memories and have fun. He works hard to ensure that his employees and guests alike are in high spirits and enjoy themselves. Locals, seasonal guests, and tourists all look forward to time spent at Pearl’s and fully embrace the lively atmosphere of the restaurant. For updates, specials, and photos of all their great events, be sure to check out their website and Facebook page!