Good People making Good Food
GENERAL MANAGER & SOMMELIER
Mindy Trafman is general manager and sommelier of Coast 236 Restaurant & Bar in Saugatuck, Michigan, and initially served as the restaurant’s chef consultant for its 2018 opening.
Born and raised in Chicago, Mindy started her career in the hospitality industry with Rich Melman’s Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, opening a dozen concepts around the country during her nearly 15 years with the organization. She then moved to the tumultuous world of rock ‘n’ roll, catering with Debra Sharpe’s The Goddess Rocks! for everyone from The Rolling Stones to Pavarotti. She opened several restaurants along the way, including con fusion in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood and the infamous Cru Wine Bar in the city’s Gold Coast.
It was there she fell in love with wine, and its complexity and simplicity. As a sommelier, Mindy’s greatest joy is to share wine knowledge, flavors, pairings and great stories via classes, tastings and everyday hospitality. Loving the educational aspect, Mindy has also taught wine classes at Loyola University in Chicago.
Taking a sabbatical from the restaurant life, Mindy ran the Chicago-based Lush Wine and Spirits stores and became impassioned with eccentric spirits. She moved to Michigan in 2014 to open The Kirby, a boutique hotel, restaurant and wine bar in Douglas, where she specialized in weddings, cooking classes and wine tasting events. Mindy is also a partner in Douglas’ Isabel’s Market + Eatery, and oversees the beverage department which offers great everyday bottles to rare, sought-after obscurities.
Her approach at Coast 236 is a culmination of her many years of invaluable experience:
Giving a guest excellent food and beverage, a great ambience, and outstanding service are givens. It's going beyond that by offering them a memorable experience they’ll think about for years to come that makes all the difference. It may be building that dish that transports you to Green Spain, creating a taste sensation that takes both food and wine to a new level, or discovering the beauty of simplicity. At Coast 236, we strive to create that memorable experience through education, hospitality and, most of all, sharing.”
As the executive chef of Coast 236 Restaurant & Bar in Saugatuck, Michigan, Rick Bower brings with him more than 20 years of culinary expertise. He has trained under several Michelin-starred chefs, and worked at numerous well-known and highly-regarded establishments that earned Michelin recommendations and Zagat recognition during his tenure.
Rick began his culinary career at the age of 15 when working in a fine-dining restaurant as part of a credit-earning high school program. Through this introduction, he developed a love for and a passionate interest in sustainable cuisine. He believes sustainability and responsible purchasing through local vendors is paramount in today’s culinary lifestyle, and always ensures that his cuisine preparation is at the highest regard to quality of product.
This food philosophy continues at Coast 236. Rick has long-standing relationships with local farmers and outsource foragers, and is intentional about promoting sustainability in the Saugatuck community. He has implemented a sustainable fish purchasing program that provides an enhanced dining experience and contributes to the community in a responsible way.
Rick’s emphasis is on straightforward, seasonal, and honest cuisine, prepared using out-of-the-box concepts. His creative approach begins with a protein or vegetable as the dish’s star, pairing items with it that will achieve balance in the dish while also bringing it to the next level. He is always conscious of pairing high-end ingredients with seasonal items that are locally available, thus changing the Coast 236 menu several times per week in line with this approach.
Rick is also adamant about preserving the integrity of ingredients throughout the restaurant’s menu:
Each ingredient is treated in its best interest, and I prepare that particular item for what it deserves and should have paired with it. I believe that once you give up on the integrity of the ingredient, you give up on the heart of how the industry was formed.”
Traci Bower Photography