Adam Vandergac stays busy between two jobs. On weekday mornings, he works as the News Director for Delta College Public Radio. On weekday afternoons, he is the executive director for the Historic Masonic Temple at 700 N. Madison Ave. in Downtown Bay City.
Route Bay City asked Vandergac to describe how he would spend the perfect day off in Bay City. He’s not a native, but he finds much to love in his adopted hometown.
He exemplifies himself “as Southeast Michigan as they come.” His parents met at a Bob Seger concert in Detroit and settled in Troy. Vandergac has lived in Detroit, Flint, Big Rapids, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo to name just a few places.
Describing Bay City, Vandergac describes it as “It’s got that enough of a city feel. There’s always something to do. It’s still got that kind of Up North Michigan river town feel, so a strong sense of community and ready access to nature.”
He makes good use of all Bay City offers. Best of all, his suggestions easily adapt to a COVID-19 world.
Suzie Q’s Breakfast Nook is known for its Coca-Cola theme and house-made smoked meats.10 a.m.: Suzie Q’s Breakfast Nook
Most days, Vandergac is an early riser. At Delta College Public Radio, he works on feature stories and puts together content for local shows like Backyard Astronomer, Movie House, and A Moment in Time. He also works the Morning Edition on Mondays and Tuesdays between 5 and 10 a.m. and oversees student and intern reporters.
On a day off, he sleeps in a bit before heading to Suzie Q’s Breakfast Nook located at 2410 Broadway in Bay City’s South End. The Coca-Cola themed diner is known for smoking its own meats. Vandergac likes to start his day here with a late breakfast — particularly with the Hash ‘N Eggs consisting of a large portion of house made corn beef hash, two eggs, and a toast. “Don’t forget to get some of their homemade jams,” Vandergac adds.
While enjoying his breakfast, Vandergac shares more about his work as the Historic Masonic Temple’s first-ever director. Time here may include giving tours for couples looking at wedding venues or productions, working to get sponsors, coordinating new programs, and general maintenance.
“We want to try to promote as much as we can to give people just the room to do things, make sure the building is ok, and setting up projectors for our Midnight Monster Movies,” he says. “The mission is to restore the building and bring it into the 21st Century.”
The Bay City Antiques Center is inside a building that’s been around since the lumbering days.Noon: Bay City Antique Center
After breakfast, Vandergac heads downtown to the Bay City Antiques Center, 1020 N. Water St. The three-story building has been around since the lumbering days and once was home to the Campbell House Hotel. The store is stocked full of antiques varying from Americana and maritime to European imports and miniatures.
Strolling the store, Vandergac likes to bring a friend or two along and make a game out of shopping. “I like to play the $20 game,” Vandergac says. “Maybe the $10 game depending on how much I have.” In the game, he competes with friends to see who can find the most unique thing and purchase it. Vandergac adds the game has led to some great find such as cups from the Apollo space missions.
The Public House may be best known for craft cocktails, but the recent addition of a bocce ball court is capturing attention.1:30 p.m.: The Public House
After shopping for a while, Vandergac recommends stopping for a drink and lunch from The Public House, 811 Adams St. “It’s the only place in town with Absinthe,” he says. He recommends the Sage Branch Scholar cocktail, named after the library. It’s made from Old Crow Bourbon, Campari, Sage, Peychaud’s Bitters, and salt. He adds that he likes “anything that involves extra do-daddery or ceremony to it, so absinthe involves some user participation in the mixing process controlling the absinthe drip.”
When it comes to grub, Vandergac usually orders the Savory Brussels (Brie, cream, toasted almonds, soy and balsamic reduction). For something different, he orders tacos.
2:30 p.m.: Artigiano’s Artisan Cheese Shoppe
As a good follow-up to The Public House, Adam recommends Artigiano’s Artisan Cheese Shoppe, 815 Saginaw St., for cheese samples. “It’s always good to work cheese into your day,” he adds. Artigiano’s features European and American cheeses, cured meats, pates, artisan crackers, gelato, premium extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Artigiano also caters events in the area.
At Artigiano’s Artisan Cheese Shoppe, you can buy products off the shelves or subscribe to a monthly box service.3 p.m.: The Appledore
After a drink and a bite, Adam likes to spend his time on one of The Appledores (IV and V) docked in Wenonah Park. If there is some sailing to be done, he likes to join BaySail on the river and bay. “I might go do some sailing or go down to the Appledore and just hangout around it.” Bay Sail is a non-profit that promotes public sailing and educational voyages through various programs.
Another recommendation is the Saginaw Bay Community Sailing Association (SBCSA). “Since they have Try Sailing days where you can dip your toes into sailing — which, I discovered, is not something you’re supposed to do. Apparently, you should keep your body in the boat whenever possible,” he adds.
The SBCSA offers sailing lessons for all ages and can be found docked on the Saginaw River in Wenonah Park at the foot of Fifth Street. Some lessons have been canceled, so check the schedule before heading out.
Bring cash if you’re visiting Mussel Beach Drive In. The popular ice cream shop and restaurant only accepts cash.4:30 p.m.: Bay City State Park
Later in the afternoon, Vandergac likes to spend time in nature. “People are frolicking, and you can get a perfect view of the Bay,” he says, talking about spending time at Bay City State Park. “I just like to go and walk out to the sandbar. It’s a perfect little sandbar.”
Bay City State Park is located along the shores of the Saginaw Bay and provides over 1,000 feet of beach, hiking trails. It connects with the nearby Tobico Marsh, one of the largest coastal wetlands on the Great Lakes. If you go, stop at the Saginaw Bay Visitor Center, located inside Bay City State Park. The centers features educational content, classes, and events allowing visitors to learn more about the area. The center is open, but has reduced hours. Call before you go to see if they are open.
Afterward, he may also grab a snack bite or ice cream at nearby Mussel Beach Drive-In, 3540 State Park Dr.
6:30 p.m.: Governor’s Quarters
The beers on tap frequently change at Governor’s Quarters.After some time in nature, Vandergac heads back into town. A favorite place on Bay City’s West Side is Governor’s Quarters in the basement of Arbeitoer Hall, 1304 S. Wenona St. “I’m an early dinner guy,” Vandergac says. “I like to get my dining in early so I can have another snack later.” Governor’s Quarters is known as Bay City’s first true tap room and features over 30 taps that change frequently.
When it comes to food, Adam is no stranger to the Governor’s Quarters burgers. “I get the Senate Majority burger and you’ve got to go with the pretzel bun and the Cajun ranch. And waffles fries.” The Senate Majority burger comes with onion and mushrooms sautéed with jalapenos with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and a pickle.
8 p.m. to 10 p.m.: Bell Bar and D’Angelo’s
Adam likes to split the last few hours of the night between two Columbus Avenue businesses —D’Angelo’s, 1305 Columbus Ave., and the Bell Bar, 1314 Columbus Ave. The Bell Bar is working on getting the permits for outdoor seating.
D’Angelo’s is known for its culinary masterpieces and introduces a new menu once a year with fresh ideas. They have won awards including Best Burgers for Mid-Michigan by WNEM-TV5, Best burgers for Bay County by MLive, and Voted 8th in the State of Michigan for Pizza by MLive.
Vandergac says D’Angelo’s has the best burger in Michigan, and the best vegan burger in town. Vandergac is not vegan but does enjoy a vegan meal from time to time. “The (vegan) meatball sub is awesome, the vegan bratwurst is awesome, you can get any other burger with a Beyond patty.”
Before the pandemic, bingo nights packed The Bell with patrons. The bar is working to set up sidewalk tables now.An added plus is their green side, “If you order off the vegan menu at D’Angelo’s they use an awesome biodegradable takeout box that has a lid with tiny containers for condiments built in.” These can also be used for non-vegan meals, but they must be requested.
At the Bell, before the pandemic, Vandergac would enjoy a beverage and some bingo. “Get yourself some cheap drinks there. On Thursdays, they have Bell Bar bingo at the top of the hour, and it’s for buckets of beer.”Vandergac describes it as the “rowdiest bingo game in town” and whoever wins get all of the loser’s bingo cards thrown at them. After a few rounds of bingo, Vandergac likes to end his evening with a walk around town before retiring for the night.