I love creating these evenings because each one is totally unique. The dinner locations are never the same, but at every dinner we focus on collaboration and bringing together a different group of people each time. The focus is on simplicity, creativity, community, and trust. No matter where or how A Simple Evening comes together they all have a unique emotion, passion, and joy. You might think I dream of making each one better than the last, but in fact I feel each one is its own and possesses its own style. I couldn’t imagine how tiring it would become if that was my only goal. Each dinner holds beautiful moments and new friendships that the other could never have, and that is where I find the joy in these nights. It is not always about how perfect the flowers are or even the food being served or if there is even a chair to sit on, but rather it is about the joy of gathering in the simplest ways. Maybe that sounds silly, but I find that what makes these nights beautiful is the opportunity to take time to slow down with great people and enjoy an evening well-lived.
This is why I am excited to share another Simple Evening with you all. This time we are at The Little Fleet in downtown Traverse City. The Little Fleet is a pretty awesome bar with a lot full of rotating food trucks. The idea is to have access to awesome well-made street food that can be enjoyed with a craft cocktail or beer at the bar. What could be better or more simple than that. Earlier this summer, before it opened, we thought it would be really fun to christen the bar with A Simple Evening and celebrate the many wonderful moments that would be happening in this space in just a short few weeks.
We decided that instead of hosting a chef for the evening we would all be the chefs and bring a dish to pass. We used the amazing tables our talented friend, Matt Voight of Milled Co, handmade for The Little Fleet. The table was set with gathered plates and napkins. We used candles and jars from our own storage closet. Our friend Jill created the flower arrangements from her garden that was full of gorgeous lilacs. It really was a simple and perfect way to make a night together.
The night began with Gary squeezing fresh limes to make the most amazing Margaritas. Though it was still chilly that evening it honestly felt like this night was the first night of summer! Sometimes in Northern Michigan you need some reminders that you won’t be wearing a sweater forever. This night was the perfect way to usher in the nice cool nights and warm days of summer.
As everyone arrived it was awesome to watch as each person brought their own dish. The table was quickly overflowing with fresh secret family dishes just waiting to be consumed. The spread was perfect for our group. Potluck style is always my favorite amongst friends. Even though we all love to enjoy a great meal prepared for us, there is something really amazing about a potluck meal. It really is a mystery meal, but that’s what makes it fun. It always creates a really great sense of community and equal contribution. Plus, it is also a great way to learn about some new recipes and old family recipes!
Since this night was much more casual, I got to actually spend time with Mike during the meal, which is usually quite rare at our Simple Evenings. He is always running around shooting and capturing it all, so it was pretty great to be able to enjoy the evening together more than we normally do.
We never really set a dinner time. It just sort of happened. As people wanted, they began to eat and break into all the awesome dishes. There was no assigned seating or special speeches. We kept things simple and natural. Everyone enjoyed the food with Gary’s awesome margaritas or a craft beer from the tap. It was pretty perfect.
As the sun set, it filtered in through the open patio doors of The Little Fleet. The wind still had a slight chill, but as one of the first nights of Memorial Day Weekend, keeping the doors open made it feel much closer to summer. Plus, the light was gorgeous.
It’s amazing how each Simple Evening teaches me more and more about how important it is to simplify life. Constantly I am learning how the most beautiful moments are the pure moments that just happen. We need very little to create a beautiful and well-lived life. Think about the last time you had a good laugh like the belly aching crying laugh. What did you need for that amazing feeling? A friend and maybe a good glass of wine? It is truly simpler than we think it is to make a beautiful life.
This dinner was very special to Mike and I as we have been apart of helping Gary and Allison over the past 6 months by branding their super cute food truck EZ Cheesy while they were focused on the build out of The Little Fleet. It has been awesome to watch it grow and transform into a gorgeous space that is now making our community better. If you have not been and you live in Michigan you need to change that while you can still get a stool at the bar. This space is more than just another bar, but more like a local watering hole that has a farmer’s fresh produce for sale, concerts to enjoy, food trucks with awesome food, and outdoor seating (we all know in TC that’s hard to come by!). With a rotating group of food trucks (including EZ Cheesy) there is plenty to enjoy. It is definitely our new go-to spot.
So next time you are in Traverse City head to The Little Fleet and say hi. We will probably be there. Order a strong cocktail (serious they have some of the best cocktails!) and take in the beautiful space that held such an awesome and fun night full of laughing, great food, and maybe even some bar dancing… Shhhh!
Cheers my friends, remember to live more fully every day.