Judy Levin
July 2020
Leelanau County Specialist

Thinking of Investing in Rentals With Others?
Investing in rental property is a way for many to take advantage of monthly cash flow while seeing the asset increase in value over time. There really isn’t any type of investment that provides both benefits as rental property can. That’s why many diversify their portfolios to include real estate. However, sometimes it can be a bit expensive to come up with the necessary down payment and closing costs as well as identify a property that will cash flow each month. With rates still flirting with record lows, now might be as good a time as ever to make the leap and purchase your very first property. Some real estate investors like to partner with others to spread the risk around a bit while at the same time being able
Mortgage Rates
U.S. averages as of July 2020:

30 yr. fixed: 3.13%
15 yr. fixed: 2.59%
5/1 yr. adj: 3.08%

able to afford a property that might just be out of reach. Think of a fourplex or an apartment building. If you’re thinking of investing in real estate with others, there are some things you


Home Equity Lines Of Credit On The Rise…But Can You Qualify?
     The Coronavirus quarantine has you thinking about making upgrades to your home, and that has you thinking about tapping your equity to take out as a home equity loan (HELOC), right? If so, you’re part of a real estate trend that’s sweeping the nation right now.
      A new report from LendingTree found that, “While the total number of home equity loan applications has fallen since January…those who do apply for a home equity loan are more likely to use it to pay for home improvements than they might’ve been at the start of the year.”
      Across the nation’s 50 largest metro areas, “An average of 45.9% of home equity loans are being used to make home improvements,” they said. That’s up from 37.3% in

What Will Homes Look Like In A Post-pandemic World?
     Better family gathering space. More comfortable bedroom space. Peaceful and private outdoor space. If those items tick your preferred “quarantine home” boxes, we get it. 
      The truth is that being stuck at home—in a home you don’t necessarily love—stinks. So, we don’t blame you if, while you’ve been sheltering, you’ve been dreaming of what you would change and where you would move given the choice. 
      The good news is that this pandemic is already having an impact on how builders operate, and the very things that are frustrating you about your existing home will likely drive changes to design and architecture in the future.
      “While the coronavirus still rages on, it’s hard to predict what post-pandemic abodes might look like,” said Barrons. “Yet, developers around the U.S. are already rethinking projects, anticipating residents’ needs and


July 2020 Blog


Wine Trail Survival Tactics: Take It Outside

By Emily Tyra – The Ticker

McKenzie and Creighton Gallagher kicked off their fifth summer operating Rove Estate with the decision to open the winery full-tilt Memorial Day weekend: “We are new in the business, in the trenches, and did not have the luxury to wait. It would have only compounded the stress and anxiety. Why not have a ‘real’ summer weekend to know what we are diving into.”

She explains, “I think that Rove Estate was the only Leelanau winery that opened out of the gate with full service, including tastings. We didn’t want to cut that experience, especially with the time of the year — we just released several new wines, so it was really important to us to offer tastings and do it safely.”

Tastings were initially by reservation only. “Now walk-ins are welcome, but if there is not a spot at the bar, we take your name, and you can grab a glass and walk around safely outside. Before it was more socially dense and chaotic, and I think now it is a more enriched one-on-one experience.”

She says also key to the winery’s survival: the great outdoors. “Because of our outdoor space, even operating at 50-percent reduced capacity we are able to still have safely 150 people outside.” She explains that since most of their summer weddings rescheduled, they are utilizing that outdoor tent space for regular business.

Gallagher estimates the winery is spending about $1.75 more per guest with various transitions for safety, such as a souvenir glass, and food in compostable containers. “And we have hired more staff to cover more ground now that we are spread out. We are using 25 percent more resources, in general, to do less business, but ultimately after we were closed for two months, it’s 100 percent worth it.”

She says Rove is one of a few wineries that can safely accommodate larger groups at this time, due to its outdoor bar capacity, so she has welcomed tour buses since reopening. “My feeling is that we all need each other right now, and it wasn’t that long ago when we were first opening, and we were begging the transportation companies to come. I’m making a point to accommodate the tour companies safely for tastings.”

And as recent cancer survivor, Gallagher has a unique point of reference for making guests feel safe and comfortable. “I was quarantined before it was a thing — I had such a low white blood count, I had to wear a mask at home with my four school-aged children. I felt tremendous responsibility to my staff coming back after uncomfortable unemployment conditions to keep them safe, as well as a whole spectrum of visitors. Though we are open with full service, we are open on the cautious end.’”

While Rove Estate is making tastings work, other wineries and tasting rooms such as Shady Lane Cellars and M-22 Glen Arbor Wine Tasting Bar have opted for a different route. “For the foreseeable future, we are sticking to flights and large pours, for less contact,” says Katy Wiesen, co-owner of the M-22 Glen Arbor Wine Tasting Bar. As with Rove, she says M-22 is fortunate to maximize their outdoor space and "the Michigan Liquor Control Commission has been great about offering expanded outdoor service permits. We are still waiting for a final inspection, but I believe once that happens, we should be good to go to offer a large backyard space where people can enjoy their wine socially distancing on our Adirondack chairs while their kids play.”

Adds Wiesen, “We just decided to open up our wine patio an hour earlier this summer as we have noticed an increase in people around noon stopping by — some who you can tell are up here working remotely. They have their laptop, headset, glass of wine and are sitting in the sun trying to work.” She says they are adding live music on the wine patio three nights a week next week, “as people are looking for more activities and opportunities to get outside.” Rove Estate also added more live music this season.

Also taking a careful outdoor route is Shady Lane Cellars in Suttons Bay. General manager Rick DeBlasio says the tasting room is reopened to the public, with the chance to order wine tasting flights and bottles on the patio. Says DeBlasio, “We will not facilitate choose-as-you-go tastings just yet. We have a new style of service, so while the products are the same, we’ve relearned how to serve them. Much of the experience will be table service and at this time we are not accepting groups larger than six people.”

Later this month, on June 27, DeBlasio says the winery will resume ticketed, reservations-only events  with Wine Social….Distancing. “Local dishes will be paired with a variety of Shady Lane Cellars’ wines. Tasting stations will be spaced throughout the patio and grounds of the winery. Our guests are our number one priority and we need to provide them with a gracious, meaningful and valuable experience that connects them with this place, our wine and our people.” 

While wineries such as Shady Lane Cellars are dipping a toe into independent events, Gallagher, who is on the events committee at the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail(LPWT), says the group will be rethinking how to do events collectively as a wine trail.

Says DeBlasio, who is the current president of the wine trail, “The COVID-19 impact certainly put some pressure on the organization that is the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail in name. But it doesn’t change the trail itself. It is still a geographic place made up of individual wineries doing their thing on the peninsula."

He says the last four months have presented a number of challenges. “We are heavily focused on events [such as Spring Sip & Savor] both for promotion and funding, so the inability to host those all spring brought us to some tough decisions.”

DeBlasio says all existing Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail employees were laid off indefinitely. “We will be staffing with a single part-time employee at some point this summer, and we have reduced size, but maintained our office space at the Grand Traverse Regional Arts Center in Studio 1. We have re-structured to be more streamlined and to focus on what has always been our mission — to bring people and awareness to the Leelanau Peninsula for the purpose of wine and to promote those wines. We are working now on what will be a really exciting evolution of some of our events this fall.”

Adds Gallagher, “The general sense is that events will look different, perhaps more like a month-long passport, similar to the Rosé All May celebration. People may be more comfortable on their own timetable. To be very real, this experience changed us. But there is always opportunity when you are forced to change.”

Photos: McKenzie Gallagher of Rove Estate; Shady Lane Cellars' patio; M-22 Glen Arbor Wine Tasting Bar.


Photo of the Month

 North Lake Leelanau Quiet Sunset


Property of the Month

1356 N Manitou Trail MLS 1875933 $769,600
Click Here to View the Full Listing 

Real Estate Update 



Washington Place Condo Very Upscale building with a European flair in the heart of Traverse City. Every great amenity 1 bedroom 1 bath 1009 square ft with ownership of heated underground parking. Walk or bike to everything.
MLS 1875159 $569,900
Click Here to View the Full Listing




Woolsey Lake Road/Pinecrest One primary offer and a backup offer are on this vacant waterfront.
MLS 1851563
Click Here to View the Full Listing  



Cathead Bay Drive Vacant Lake Michigan 100FT Waterfront Northport 
MLS 1807890 $229,000.00
Click Here to View the Full Listing and More Photos



MLS 1870209 $49,900
Click Here to View the Full Listing and More Photos


6499 S Lake Shore Drive Cedar
$469,000 MLS#1868496 
Click Here to View the Full Listing 


1356 N Manitou Trail
$769,600 MLS 1875933
Click Here to View the Full Listing

Resturant of the Month

West End Tavern

Photo From West End Taverns Website

12719 S. West Bay Shore Dr.
Phone 231-943-2922
11:00 to 9:00 Monday-Thursday and Sunday Friday-Saturday 11:00 to 10:00pm

Enjoy a casual lunch or dinner or a cocktail on their expansive patio right on the Bay viewing all the boats and fun activities. It’s a fun place to be and the food is good. You will like their wood fired pizzas. There is something for everyone. 
Click Here to View West End Tavern's Website 

Recipe of the Month

 Strawberry Shortcake Deep-Dish Skillet Cookie

Blog Readers This is a really easy July 4th Treat using those Fresh Strawberries


1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz.) salted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (about 9 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, divided
1 cup chopped frozen pound cake, divided
Whipped cream
Sliced strawberries


Step 1: Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly coat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with cooking spray. Beat brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, beating until blended.

Step 2: Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Add to butter mixture gradually, beating at low speed until combined.

Step 3: Add 1 cup of the white chocolate chips and 3/4 cup chopped frozen pound cake; beat until combined.

Step 4: Spread mixture evenly in prepared skillet. Top with remaining 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and 1/4 cup chopped frozen pound cake.

Step 5: Bake in preheated oven until golden and set, about 50 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes; cut into wedges. Serve with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. 

From my



The County’s Latest Openings, Closings & Comebacks

By Emily Tyra – The Ticker

Several Leelanau businesses are on the move or making a comeback in our latest look at retail and restaurant openings and closings in the county.

Boutique fitness studio Sleeping Bear Bay Club just moved from its longtime digs in the old schoolhouse on Western Avenue in Glen Arbor to the gymnasium space adjacent to Broomstack Kitchen & Taphouse in Maple City. Sleeping Bear Bay Club owner Stacy Jago laughs, “I must have a thing for old schoolhouses.” Her new landlords operate the eatery and curling club occupying the former school in Maple City. Jago tells the Leelanau Ticker, “this move allows me to scale back expenses and to spread out physically. We are set up on the basketball court (photo, above) where it is easy to do social distancing.” Jago restarted classes last week with a shift from private training only, to adding back groups: “I’m giving locals the flexibility to create their own groups for TRX and circuits.”

New to Lake Leelanau is PlayNorth Watersports, started by Alex and Roxanne Dingrando, and a callback to a favorite summer job Alex had during college. “I was a watersports rental dealer in Leelanau and Traverse City, and I had the best time of my life,” says Alex, a Lake Leelanau native.

Becoming part of the Leelanau business community is a leap for the couple, after Alex had been developing an ICU nursing career in Detroit for the last eight years. “I’ve been planning on this transition, but COVID made it a little earlier and a little more dramatic,” he explains. The couple opened for business in June, offering jet skis, water trampolines, SUPs, kayaks, pontoons and fishing boats for rental and delivery. Dingrando says night SUP rentals (with boards equipped with a lighting system, photo above) have especially taken off: “It’s for visibility and safety, with the bonus that once it is really dark, you can see into the water in an orb four feet around you. People are taking incredible night photos.”

At North Shore Outfitters, which services the peninsula’s tip, co-owners Will Harper and Rachael Dean decided not to open their retail store at 119 South Waukazoo Street in Northport for the 2020 season, keeping their focus strictly on rentals of pontoons, kayaks, SUPs, bikes and watermats. Says Harper, “We had to make the decision in March not to stock merchandise for the store, and so far, we are not disappointed. Right now the rental business is nonstop — we are booking both impromptu rentals and reservations into August. The difference this year is we are not face-to-face; people book and pay online and we deliver from a distance.”

In Suttons Bay, Bay Books is moving to a new, larger location at 220 North Saint Joseph Street at the beginning of July. Owner Tina Greene-Bevington says the move itself will be done with “lots of community help, in a book parade down the sidewalk with the wagons and dollies on the 4th of July. Martha Ryan from Martha's Leelanau Table is going to supply sandwiches, and I'll have plenty of iced tea. Mike from Murdick’s Fudge is supplying volunteer help. That's how things get done in our small community — we help each other.”

Bay Books, which is closed from June 28 to July 12, will occupy the retail space that Nifty Things has occupied since 2014. Doug Hickman, owner at Nifty Things, tells the Leelanau Ticker, “Our last day of business should be June 28th, but it may be sooner as we sold over half of our remaining inventory and most of the fixtures last weekend.”

Hickman explained the closure in a letter sent to fellow Suttons Bay merchants and chamber members, “Unfortunately, changes in customer buying habits and now the uncertainty of what lies ahead, we have made the hard decision to close our Suttons Bay store. We want to give a special thank you to our landlords, the Bahle family. They were instrumental in bringing us to Suttons Bay and have supported us the entire time. We also thank Karen Pontius, Suttons Bay Chamber Director, who introduced us to many of our downtown neighbors, and also has become a good friend of ours.” Nifty Things will maintain its stores in Traverse City, Elk Rapids, and Alden.

Another COVID-19 related closure, Hillside Homestead, a farmstay B&B in Suttons Bay offering dinners and classes, announced in a statement on Facebook last week, “After very careful and thoughtful consideration I must announce that I am no longer open to the public for any type of rental, dinner, class, tour, etc. A new part-time job at a small historical museum is a blessing and I hope to personally get better acquainted with my porches this summer. I sincerely thank all of you who were customers and visited Hillside Homestead since it opened in July 2011.”

Tucker’s in Northport, which went up for sale after closing its doors in April, is now under contract. According to owner Bill Collins, there is “hopefully a closing the 30th of the month, and that’s all I can say for now.” (Stay tuned to the Leelanau Ticker for updates.)

In other Northport restaurant news, New Bohemian Café opened on Saturday, for curbside pickup and outdoor seating only, with online ordering new this season. The wine tasting room will sell to-go bottles only. While The Mitten Brewing Co. is typically open 7 days a week at this point in the season, general manager Dan Frank says they are operating Friday through Monday “at the moment,” with Antojitos and The Big Hot Woody/North End Eatery food trucks making their rounds on weekends. While The Union is not able to do farm-to-table dinner gatherings at this time, the culinary team is offering supper kits to-go

A few more Leelanau establishments have reopened after an extended COVID-19 hibernation: In Suttons Bay, North Country Grill & Pub reopened for dinners on June 17. “I wanted to be more safe than sorry,” says owner Karen Boone. In Burdickville, longtime dining destination Trattoria Funistrada reopened for takeout only, according to a statement their site: “Our dining room remains closed, but we’re excited to announce that we are offering takeaway Wednesday through Sunday. We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary and determined to persevere.” And on The Homestead property in Glen Arbor, Whiskers Bar and Grill is once again serving (and open to the public), with outdoor dining offering room to spread out.

Also creating expanded spaces for customers to safely distance, are 9 Bean Rows in Suttons Bay, and Joe’s Friendly Tavern in Empire. “The Friendly” is waiting on final paperwork for an expanded liquor license that will allow full service on a patio created from a converted employee parking lot on the west side of the building. The management hopes the patio to be open by this upcoming weekend.

The now-open pizza patio and pavilion at 9 Bean Rows has been a dream in the making for co-owners Nic and Jen Welty. Says Nic, “We have been planning the pavilion for years, in part, because where else do you want to be when you are out on a farm, and also because we have a wood-fired pizza oven that we purchased back in 2013.” 

9 Bean Rows is producing wood-fired pizzas with ingredients from their farm and other purveyors in Leelanau County. The outdoor expansion was made possible — in part — by a reimbursement grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and an up-front loan from Venture North.

Photos: Stacy Jago (L); Pauline Kennedy Varley (R)

Judy’s Movie Reviews




Stars Ryan O”Neal, Barbra Streisand and introducing Madeline Kahn in her first movie role. This is in the top three movies made by Peter Bogdanovich. Two researchers are competing 

For a grant and one (Ryan O’Neal) has to deal with a strange young woman (Barbra Streisand) plus there is a woman whose jewels are stolen. All of them have the same plaid suitcase.

A classic screwball comedy. My least favorite of the three. 3.5 out of 5 stars. My second favorite was Paper Moon. Click Here to View the Trailer



This in my opinion is the best of Bogdanovitch’s films. A black and white film of a dusty, windswept small Texas town which has a cinema that is closing forever. Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd( in her first starring role) are wonderful. This is their story before graduation as they go into their future lives. Shepherd is so breathtakingly beautiful, no wonder Peter left his wife Polly and his two daughters for her. A very special film. 5 out of 5 stars
 Click Here to View the Trailer



 I have to preface my review to tell you that Aunt Sophie was a personal friend of my parents. Her pianist of 42 years was Ted Shapiro who was one of my Dad’s best friends, so I have more than just a passing interest in this documentary. This is a fascinating documentary of this legendary vaudeville performer. She had an incredible collection of scrapbooks that are the basis for this story. There are pictures of our family in this film. She was the first woman in the 1915’s to have a blue act. Her songs were off color and so was her repartee.  Fans loved the Some Of Your days, You’re Going To Miss Your Red Hot Mama performer. For me AS A FAN 5 OUT OF 5 STARS.
Click Here to View the Trailer



My daughter, Lisa Sue has been extolling the virtues of this series she has loved for years. She finally convinced  me to start watching. Now I can’t stop.  I am binge watching every day. Watch the White House behind the scenes activities that are believable. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Click Here to View the Trailer


Don’t think racial problems of the 40’s 50’s and 60’s were only in the south. The conditions in my hometown of Ypsilanti, Mich. were very difficult for black help, housekeepers, maids etc. This film is in the south but it is very relevant. A really interesting film so I gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Click Here to View the Listing



This is a history of my family arriving on Ellis Island, family with no money, many children to support and could not speak English. Their goals of learning English, becoming an American, being financially independent, education for their children and having freedom of religion with no persecution was everything to them. They met their goals and went beyond everything they dreamed of for their families.  4.0 out of 5 stars.
Click Here to View the Trailer

Video of the Month 

Vintage Views of Leelanau County, Michigan!

Video by Forbidden Michigan

Click Here to View the Video of the Month


Local Information

The City Opera House

The State Theater and The Bijou By the Bay

Old Town Playhouse

Leelanau County Farmersmarket

Met Opera



  Daily News and Advice

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Judy Levin,CRS e-PRO
231- 218-7653
Coldwell Banker Schmidt
71 Fourth Street
Suttons Bay Michigan 49682

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