New restaurant to open in downtown Baldwin 

General manager/chef: 'My forte is hospitality'

BALDWIN — When the new restaurant 876 soon opens in downtown Baldwin, executive chef and general manager Glenn Forgie is enthusiastic to not only serve delicious food to patrons — but also hospitality — making them feel right at home.

The new establishment, dreamed up and made into reality by husband and wife team Paul Santoro and Dina Velocci, repurposed the old Masonic Lodge building at 876, Michigan Ave., to create a unique dining experience in the area.

"I know everyone is anxious for us to open, and we are anxious too, but it is coming very soon," Forgie said.

Born in Plymouth, Michigan, Forgie also lived in Arizona, and then in Los Angeles, where he attended culinary school. He has worked in the restaurant business 35 years, 25 of those years as a chef and general manager. He returned to Michigan in 2001. In 2006, he began working at Reds on the River.

"I've spent close to 10 years in Grand Rapids, where I came on my own as a chef," he said, explaining a mutual acquaintance from Reds on the River, who moved to Baldwin, thought it would be a good idea for Forgie to meet Santoro and Velocci.

It was while Forgie was working at a large corporation as food and beverage director, this connection became key.

"I was at a point in my career I was missing the kitchen and being a creative force," he explained. "But after one phone call, I felt a pretty good synergy and moved up to the big metropolis of Baldwin."

"One of the goals of Paul and Dina was to do something special for the community. I hired all local employees to start. My forte is hospitality. We're going to have extremely good food, nothing over-fancy. As a chef, I know food is important, but it is very important that we create an atmosphere that's warm and inviting — no matter where people come from, be it Baldwin, Ludington, Traverse City or Grand Rapids. We are not only trying to do something special for Baldwin, we want to do something special for the State of Michigan, too," Forgie emphasized.

The theme of the establishment is Michigan roots with European flare. The restaurant will have a warm and inviting atmosphere, Midwestern in nature, with a large influence from Europe. All the food will be from scratch — crafted from farm to table.

"Dina is making a beautiful restaurant, bringing new to old. She has a great collectic decoration in the front, and I got a collectic menu," he said.

Forgie is looking forward to providing a good, educational experience for the staff.

"A promise I made to the staff, because a lot of them have not worked in an environment like this, is that I just want us to get better everyday, so overtime we can become an exceptional restaurant.

"I am training everybody. I feel like I'm a teacher at heart, and really want people to learn and grown and become chefs. They should be able to step out and blend in anywhere, like Chicago, or Traverse City, and have the skill-sets to open their own place."