McGowan’s Menu: Doc’s Sauble River Inn

If you're traveling north or south on US-31 in Mason County, this spot has been a place to stop for food and drink since 1948.   

But now the Sauble River Inn, is Doc's Sauble River Inn, with a renewed dedication to making that stop a memorable one.  

John McGowan tells you all about the stars of the menu in this week's edition of McGowan's Menu.
For a little less than a year and a half, Derek “Doc” Campbell has been the proprietor of the slightly re-named Doc's Sauble River Inn.  He sold beer and wine for 20 years, but always had the itch to be on the other side of the bar.  He also doesn't mind making fun of himself.   
“Took me abut 20 years to talk my wife into letting me do something dumb.  And here we are, I've been eating for 43 years,  and I kinda like doing that, so that's where we ended up,” said Doc.  
He says the place needed some work when he bought it, so they shut it down for seven weeks back in October of 2012.
“We pretty much replaced flooring, rebuilt the bar, re-did the walls to make it a lot brighter in here, all due to my father-in-law, who retired in June, and the mother-in-law just had enough, and kicked him out and said go find a hobby, so I guess I got him something to do.”   
Doc describes his place as a family oriented restaurant that serves good beer, wine and liquor.
“We have home cooking more than anything.  We really hate the bag, what we've started calling it, because if you can buy it in a bag, you can buy it anywhere, so I have a great kitchen staff that loves to experiment.”
They call her Cookie, and she runs things in the kitchen. She's working on the star of the Mexican side of the menu, the burrito that can feed a small family. 
“I wrap beans and burrito meat in a flour tortilla and then I cook it for a couple minutes,  and then I put my secret burrito sauce over it.  And then I cook it for another couple minutes.   And then I cheese it and add lettuce, tomato and onion,” said Cookie.
“I really like the burritos. I can't really move much after I've eaten one because they're very filling. I like the beef, but the chicken is really good too,” said Barbie.      
Barbie Billings has worked as a bartender and server since the day Doc re-opened the place. She says a lot of their customers are folks coming to or from the Little River Casino.
“Not very often is there just single people that come in.  It's more groups or people just getting together and say, Hey, Let's meet at Doc's and have ya know, a quick bite, or a cocktail, or something, and then they go up to the casino or something or back home.”
We mentioned the appetizers, one combo is actually called lizzards, and they're at the top of the appetizer menu.
Doc said, “It's livers and gizzards deep-fried.  My wife is a gizzard girl, and I'm a liver guy, so we actually put them together, kind of as a novelty, but people come from quite a few miles just to eat those.  And that is our number one selling appetizer actually.”
The hog wings, which you can get separately, or enjoy with a fish taco, are another popular appetizer.  Along with mac & cheese bites, queso rangoons, and a long list of more familiar choices. Another popular south of the border choice is the Philly steak nachos. The lunch and dinner menu will show you a full list of burgers, sandwiches, wraps, baskets, and other Mexican choices as well.
“I don't allow anybody to sell me anything based on a price.  It's all based on quality.  Because, ya know, we may charge a little bit more for it, but it's always worth it.  So that's what I learned is that people appreciate the quality that we give 'em.”
Doc's Sauble River Inn is very proud of the Mexican food they serve. Doc's Sauble River Inn is located on US-31 between Manistee and Scottville.  They're open Tuesday through Saturday noon to 10:00 PM, and Sunday noon to 9:00 PM.  And until it warms up, they're closed on Monday.