Blue Cow brings fine dining to Big Rapids

This article is part of Business Buzz, a series designed to showcase small businesses that have a big impact on the community. Participants featured will include all of the local businesses that make up the fabric of Big Rapids and the surrounding region.

BIG RAPIDS – Over the past 14 years, the Blue Cow Cafe has established itself as a must-see for anyone looking for a true dining experience.

If someone from Big Rapids, or anywhere within a 50-mile radius of town, craves filet mignon, Blue Cow is the only choice – and for good reason.

In fact, it’s one of the many things that Blue Cow owners Connie Freiberg and Chef Joel King continue to be proud of over the cafe’s nearly fifteen years of operation.

Freiberg and King opened the restaurant together and made the blue cow what it is today.

“I used to cook side by side with Joel every day and did that for the first five years or so and then we opened a second restaurant in Manistee,” Freiberg said. “My role has changed considerably; I’m more of a restaurateur and focus on new concepts and menu development.

Simultaneously owning and operating the Blue Cow as well as its next door neighbor: Raven Brewing and BBQ, the duo have a wide range of wines and beers at their disposal.

At present, the Blue Cow offers 200 different wines, some new and some vintage.

“We take the opportunity to bring here some of the beer that we brew alongside,” Freiberg said. “We also usually have one or two of our own beers to choose from. “

King said he and Freiberg are using their combined experience to bring a litany of different and unique flavors to Big Rapids and beyond, even if that means ordering and serving high-quality items that are rare in the region, such as scallops from Maine. .

“We’re doing things the people of Grand Rapids don’t even do,” King said.

Freiberg said she believes gourmet restaurants are becoming increasingly scarce these days, especially in northern Michigan.

“We have a good, solid base of regulars,” said Freiberg. “And then we’re also considered a ‘destination’ restaurant, because we’re pretty much the only fine dining restaurant until you get to Grand Rapids, for the most part.”

That’s part of the reason why so many Blue Cow regulars don’t even reside within the city limits of Big Rapids, or even Mecosta County.

According to Freiberg, about 80% of B.C.’s clientele come from outside of BR, but that doesn’t mean that she and King don’t rely on local support or appreciate local support, especially. from Ferris State faculty.

“I used to think we weren’t very addicted to college (clients) until college closed for COVID, then I realized we were getting a lot from college. “

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the lives of local businesses and restaurants overnight, and the Blue Cow was no exception.

When restaurant services were officially banned, businesses had to either offer a limited take-out menu or temporarily shut down and go out.

For the Blue Cow, which offers a number of freshly made specialty items, even the take out orders didn’t offer the same consistency.

“We have been closed for a while; we stopped by after Christmas and took a few weeks off, ”Freiberg said. “Unfortunately, French gastronomy does not lend itself well to take away.”

As for the dish on the menu that some customers prefer more than others, it is a fairly unanimous response from Freiberg and King: chicken with champagne.

King estimates he’s made at least six million champagne chicken dishes over the past 13 years, and insists that’s not an exaggeration – people love him so much.

Freiberg said it was one in 10 orders coming to the kitchen, but King said it could be even more than that.

“Some days it’s 90%. It depends, but we sell a lot of champagne chicken, ”King said.


119 N. Michigan Ave., Big Rapids


(231) 796-0100


Tuesday to Saturday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Closed on Mondays

Previous Restaurant receives rave reviews for affordable fine home cooking
Next Gourmet Chef Eric Huang Focuses On Making Fried Chicken In Queens So Good It Takes 6 Weeks