By Jim Newell
It’s the end of an era. After 23 years under the care of owners Carl and Joan Slomczenski, CJ’s Lakeside Grill and CJ’s Sandbar have changed ownership.
“I am officially retired,” Carl Slomczenski told The Review on Tuesday. “It feels good. It feels real good.”
Rumors that the Slomczenski’s have been trying to sell the restaurant have been floating around for weeks, but neither the Slomczenski’s nor the new owners wanted to confirm anything until the deal had gone through.
“I’m going to be 65. I’m definitely ready to retire and enjoy some things; help my adult children out with some of their ventures. My wife, she’ll be happy too because she won’t have to do bookwork anymore,” Carl said.
“Thank you to the community for supporting us all these years. It’s just been a pleasure for my wife and my family. And I just wish time didn’t go by so quick, because it is something that I truly loved,” he said.
CJ’s Lakeside Grill, 21 W. Flint St., was notably popular for its breakfast menu, as well as focusing on family-themed dining with a traditional menu.
CJ’s Sandbar, 12 S. Broadway St., is a marine-themed restaurant with a menu that includes lunch and dinner options, full bar, big screen televisions for sports and live musical entertainment on some nights and weekends.
While the long-term plans of the new owners are not known, Slomczenski said the restaurant and bar are still operating.
“It’s not closed. It’s continued to be open,” he said. “The people we’ve sold it to, we’ve been working together for the last couple weeks and they’re ready to just keep it moving forward.
The regular staff is currently still serving at the restaurant.
“It’s open, they’re still serving the breakfast and everything the way it was,” he said. “We have some great people working there and I’m sure it will be great.”
Slomczenski said he feels good about the deal, and with the new owners continuing things as normal, for now.
“It was sold, they bought it and they’re going to move forward. Any idea of what they’re going to do to move forward, you’d have to talk to them.
“I wish them another 20-some years of success,” he said.
The Review has obtained a letter, dated Oct. 9, from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) state Liquor Control Commission listing Matthew Moore and Deni Bozinovski as the partners/subordinates in a request to transfer Class C liquor license to MD Downtown Orion LLC.
The Review contacted the new owner for comment, but did not receive a response before press time.
Carl and Joan Slomczenski opened CJ’s opened in 1997, but the original restaurant was opened in 1980 by Tom Baker and was called “Molly’s Kitchen”, according to a history of the restaurant on the CJ’s website.
The restaurant ownership was passed on to Marge Jewell who renamed it “Margie’s Place.”
The Slomczenski’s also continued the annual free Thanksgiving meal for those in need, the elderly and anyone who wants a homecooked meal and company for the holiday.