PLYMOUTH: Dinner and a Movie….

24 Mar

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Just about 26 miles west of Detroit in Wayne county lies the city of Plymouth; settled in 1825 it was named after Plymouth Massachusetts. Today this quaint town of just over 2 square miles is home to shops, restaurants, cafes, Kellogg Park and lovely historic homes. It is a beautiful day, the sky is clear, the sunshine deceiving as the temperature hovers around 20 degrees. We find a parking spot central to our planned activities and drop in at the Plymouth Coffee Bean. Since 1993 this independent coffee shop in a former residence has been providing folks with coffee, espresso drinks, pastries and light fare. It is Sunday, tables are crowded with locals sipping warm beverages and reading the weekend newspaper. We amble from room to room through the house, currently there are no open tables, we will get something to go. We order our drinks at the counter, a glass case is filled with delicious looking baked goods from red velvet cake to cookies; we have something else in mind……..

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The Alpine Chocolat Haus on Main Street serves up a delectable variety of chocolates handmade in Gaylord MI. The space is long and narrow, a large front window provides natural light and a great view of downtown. A table front and center features Easter bunnies made from every variety of chocolate. Boxed candy is found on shelves and cubbies along each wall, an extensive counter displays individual varieties of truffles, barks and clusters. Further on are freezers filled with Moomers Homemade Ice Cream, made in Traverse City MI, it has been named Best Scoop in America. Bags of Chocolat Haus Chips (potato chips dipped in chocolate) and Bruce’s Gourmet Caramel Corn line shelves, both are best sellers. Today Kris and I are just looking for something chocolate to go with our piping hot coffee. Settling on dark chocolate almond bark, a sea salt caramel and a peanut butter truffle, we are pleasantly surprised at how reasonable the prices are, the chocolate itself is outstanding!

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We walk from Main Street around Kellogg Park to Penniman Ave, we are seeing “Saving Mr. Banks” at the historic Penn Theatre. The Woodward Theatre Company purchased this plot of land back in 1926 with the intention of building a first class movie palace. Over a decade later Harry Lush purchased the property and built the theatre you see today; the Penn officially opened December 4, 1941, the movie was “Weekend in Havana”. In 1964 Margaret Wilson purchased the Penn, a couple of years later she added a concession and altered the entrance to what you see today. In 2003 the doors were closed and the fate of the theatre uncertain; thanks to a group of businessmen who purchased the building in 2005, the theatre is now rented to the non-profit Friends Of The Penn for $1 a year! After much interior renovation the single screen, 402 seat,Penn re-opened in 2006 showing current second-run movies, independent and classic films and occasional live musical performances. 

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We approach the theatre, a line of movie-goers has formed from the old-fashioned ticket window down the sidewalk, we are not the only ones gripping a warm drink with gloved hands. The Art Deco facade is gorgeous, the marquis is lit up advertising today’s film, Saving Mr. Banks, All Seats $3.00. Fortunately the line moves swiftly, inside, little if anything remains from 1941, old movie posters hang on the back wall of the lobby. The theatre has three sections of seats, an aisle-way runs down each side, it’s crowded with people, we have to go down to the third or fourth row to find two empty seats. Walls in the auditorium are now covered in red pleated material that matches the grand curtain, also in red, modern light sconces recall the Art Deco design style. Without delay the movie begins, for the next two hours we are entertained by Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P L Traverse, author of the Mary Poppins novels. The story takes place in 1961, the clothes and cars are cool, the tunes are catchy and familiar, in the end, everyone lives happily ever after and the audience is left with a smile.

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Keeping with our historical theme, we drive over to Novi for dinner at Shiro. The restaurant operates out of an elegant Colonial Revival home, built in 1929 by Charles Rogers for his bride Harriet Thornton. The Rogers family made their fortune in canned milk, Rogers is actually credited with inventing condensed milk. The home was originally called White House Manor because it was built with the money made from the White House Milk Company. Charles died in 1942, after Harriet died the Crusoe family purchased the home and lived there for about ten years, the house then sat empty from 1973 to 1981. The Cervi brothers bought the home and turned it into a restaurant, this would be the story for the next many years; each of the owners reporting the sound of footsteps when no one was around, lights that would come on when the place was empty, they all said it was haunted. In 1998 Shiro Japanese Restaurant opened and has been there since.

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We snag a parking space close to the entrance, the home is stately, prominent, lavish, it has a southern feel to it with its tall columns and balcony. Inside, our attention is drawn to the elegant grand staircase with cherry wood banisters that curve to the second floor. There is hand carved wood work, stained glass windows and leaded glass doors. On the right is the sushi bar, the room is crowded with diners, we are seated in the room to the left; white tablecloths cover the tables, votive candles are a nice touch. We place our order and talk about the movie as we wait for our dishes to arrive. First out is the Shiro salad with a delicious ginger dressing, the kimchee pancake appetizer is enough for two, it has a really nice flavor. We chose three different sushi rolls, each a different flavor and texture, all were enjoyable. It has been a wonderful Sunday,we are lucky to live in an area that has so much to offer within a short distance.

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