Once upon a time, there were three sisters. Their parents had taught them to put love and effort into cooking and feeding others and so when the time came to take over the family business, they did it with pleasure, grace and success.
People came from all over the mitten-shaped land all throughout the year and would sit and eat, order take-out and find unique gifts from eccentric artists to intrigue their own friends and family.
After fifteen years of the sister’s ownership, the business continues to flourish, whether or not it was tourist season in the north. The local farmers were happy because their produce was being used so deliciously and the local patrons were happy with the new menu items that changed daily. And because of the continuous stream of general satisfaction, The Silver Swan of Traverse City, Mich., is expected to live happily ever after, under the diligent care of Petra, Erika and Yola Pepellashi.
In real life, The Silver Swan has been open since May of 1997 and has brought a much needed variety of fare to the area. I spoke with part-owner Yola Pepellashi about the eclectic menu, unique gift shop and the secret to making food taste good.
After being offered the opportunity to take over for their parents, Ziggy and Emma, and continue the tradition of Albanian cooking from scratch, the Pepellashi sisters took a year to decide and revamp the concept of The Silver Swan.
They wanted a unique destination, they wanted to be able to have lives outside of the commitment to the restaurant and they wanted to showcase not only their culinary talent, but the artistic prowess of artists who specialize in the unusual.
Yola said her and her sisters are happt they followed the advice of their father when he said, “You can’t cook when you’re crabby; people can taste it in the food.”To reduce the stress and crabbiness, The Silver Swan is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., but has weekends, along with the month of March, off.
While a huge percentage of business is take-out, The Silver Swan has plenty of space to sit and eat, a small catering business, a selection of fair-trade art and daily changes to the menu.
Menu staples include gyros, falafel, Mishwaya and the Middle Eastern trio. Patrons can usually look for a lamb, chicken, beef, vegetarian or vegan dish as well. Everything from the baba ganoush to the phyllo dough in the pistachio baklava is hand-made from scratch, in the restaurant!
Yola recommends the cream puffs, but I’m pretty sure as long as you show up hungry, you’ll wind up having a happy eating experience, no matter what you choose from the menu.
The Silver Swan advertises simply by word of mouth, so if you like what you eat, pass it on!
~ Lyndsay Israel, Feature Writer