ALPENA – You don’t have to be a hippie to eat here, but it has a groovy vibe.
Everyone is welcome to the new year-round indoor Hungry Hippie location at 510 N. Ripley Boulevard, which opened on November 18th.
“We started out as a food cart in the back of Lee’s Mini Golf in 2014,” said owner Greg Konwinski. “I wanted to do something on my own. I had never been into food before, but this was a good way to go.
He came up with the name “out of the blue,” he said.
“Back then, I was at all the music festivals and yoga stuff, so I would have considered myself a modern day hippie,” Konwinski said. “I’ve been on the couch a lot, traveling, sleeping in my car and that sort of thing.”
After the food cart gained some traction, it moved into the domed building on State Avenue, which will continue to operate as a second location during the warmer months. He has operated a location within the Alpena Mall for the past two years, but as the mall is transformed into a manufacturing space, he decided to look for a new stand-alone building.
“It’s kind of taken on a life of its own since then where the brand is really something unique,” Konwinski said. “Now it’s a registered trademark, so no one else can take it. And we’re really looking forward to doing more with the brand and really getting things done. “
T-shirts, stickers and hats are available for purchase at the restaurant, which features bright yellow walls and a fun, funky vibe, with just the right music, from Tom Petty to Nirvana to The Beatles, and all that. is groovy.
For those who haven’t tried the Hippie yet, the menu isn’t full of weird stuff. There are all kinds of healthy and filling options, from a simple grilled cheese sandwich to plenty of vegetarian options including the popular Tree Hugger bowl, as well as kids’ choices like the Bambino bowl and daily specials like that shrimp and laughter, and many more Continued. There’s plenty of meat for carnivores too, from pulled pork and chicken to the breast.
Konwinski is happy with the new location for a number of reasons.
“I wanted to have a place where we could have a separate line for delivery,” he said, “to be able to divide up the food preparation, so in times when we’re busy we can double down on or near the double our capacity for what we can do.
He said rush hour is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“This is when we do the majority of our business,” Konwinski said. “It would speed up both operations. And, being in the middle of town, I thought it was pretty central, and I thought it would be a good neighborhood, easy to get in and out of Ripley, and there’s a second building here as well. We’ll end up doing something with that too.
He added that the property was “well priced and well suited”.
The building is roughly three times the size of the dome on State Avenue.
“It’s not a setup for large-scale doing, with all the preparation and everything, but we make it work,” he said. “It’s like living in a motorhome with five people a day. Its size has its drawbacks, but it’s a great location, and every square inch is really effective.
Konwinski expects the dome location to be open from June to the end of August in the future.
“We have enough business to support two during this time,” he explained.
He noted that more and more people came to try his restaurant, of all ages and from all walks of life.
“Word of mouth, I think, has worked really well,” Konwinski said. “We have seen the demographics here changing a lot over time. It’s a pretty large mix of young / old, men and women.
He said Hungry Hippie customers are the coolest. He has had no issues with complaints or tensions related to the coronavirus pandemic, he said.
“All of our customers are awesome,” Konwinski said. “I think we’ll continue to grow at a smaller organic rate, and eventually if someone wants to come they will, and if not, that’s how it goes.”
He said his staff were very friendly and loyal.
“We have some really good people working here,” Konwinski said. “When we need someone, a good person falls from the sky.”
He added that he is happy to be a part of Alpena’s small business community and has high hopes for the future of this area of northeast Michigan.
“You just have to keep building something, and, I think, if it gets cool enough, eventually, I think, everyone will be interested in at least trying it out,” he said.
Darby Hinkley is the editor of Lifestyles. She can be reached at 989-358-5691 or at email@example.com.