The Kirby meshes old with new

Photo: The Kirby
Photo: The Kirby

By Kelsey Smith

Tucked along West Michigan’s lakeshore in Douglas, The Kirby is a one-stop shop for a peaceful escape. The hotel, restaurant and wine lounge prides itself on bringing people closer together in an intimate setting, all over fine wines and delicious food.

“The inspiration behind the entire place is old world meets new world,” said Mindy Trafman, general manager, chef and sommelier. “Here you have an 1890s Victorian with a lot of rich history — it’s a Michigan historic site. When you look inside, it’s somewhat modern, hip and kind of funky. And that’s how we describe the food and drink menu at J. Paul’s.”

Beef short-rib Rioja-demi, honey carrots with mashed potatoes
Beef short-rib Rioja-demi, honey carrots with mashed potatoes
Photo: The Kirby

The Kirby is open seasonally from April–December, typically ending the year with a New Year’s Eve dinner. Using fresh ingredients, and local ingredients when they’re available, J. Paul’s Restaurant and Wine Lounge serves up classic dishes, but with a modern twist.

“We do a delicious wild Alaskan salmon, it’s probably the most popular item on our menu,” Trafman said. “We serve it with lemon-roasted potatoes and fresh asparagus.”

J. Paul’s also offers artisanal spirits, craft beer, cocktails and cider, and of course, a carefully selected wine list.

“You can come in for a nice dinner and a wine flight, and try three different wines from three different regions,” Trafman said. “We want to turn people on to things they’ve never tried before.”

Aside from running as a hotel, restaurant and wine lounge, The Kirby is well-known as a major wedding venue.

“We do weddings a little different from other hotels,” Trafman said. “We like to meet the couple, get to know them and create a menu that’s specifically catered for them.”

Being a smaller venue, The Kirby can personalize experiences for hotel guests. The space has been used in the past for writing workshops, wine-tasting classes, family retreats and even a sushi-making class.

“What separates us is that we offer unique experiences and unmatched hospitality,” Trafman said. “We design little tours of the Saugatuck, Douglas and Fennville areas so guests can really learn about the agriculture and restaurants we have. Within the last five years, there are a lot of new restaurants and the energy, I think, is the best it’s ever been.”

The Kirby
294 W. Center St.

Pork dish
Pork dish
Photos: The Kirby