Jenison’s new and only bar, The Win, is a bombshell to be added to anyone’s bucket list

Katianna Mansfield

More stories from Katianna Mansfield

I am okay now
February 16, 2018

Driving down the practically one-road city, Jenison, there are few restaurants in tow. An old family friend having opened his own bar, a friend and I decided to abandon our usual spots to try something new.

Nestled behind some basics- a McDonald’s, bank, and gas station- is a busy little bar with a classed-up feel to it. Owning up to its ambiance and everything about it, the bar is called The Win– the best and only bar in the city of Jenison.

I was worried about not being able to see my family friend at that particular moment, because working in the food industry I know that the owner is not just always around. But I walked in anyway, prepared for anything. Sure as the sunrise, I heard his voice coming out of the kitchen door laughing with his beloved servers. He treated my friend and I like family, and the way he talked to everyone else around us, it was no different for them.

The bar is big enough for the amount of people who show up, but small enough for the entire place to be a conversation area. Strangers can talk over their food, laugh about how ridiculous the loaded tots are, and leave feeling like the restaurant has given them a temporary home.

I didn’t have to worry about the owner not being there because it was obvious that The Win was where he wanted to be. He would be there to open the doors in the morning and he would be there to close them at night. He gave every ounce of himself into his bar, and he was proud, as he should be.

As he sat with us at our table, I asked him about the bar-making process and everything he went through to perfect the place before it opened. On his own time, he sat down and created every single item on the menu. Not a meal on it is a usual, they are all unique in some aspect. Lattice chips with homemade French onion dip, home-stuffed tater tots, a mac and cheese burger, each is created to be different than anything else.

Strangers can talk over their food, laugh about how ridiculous the loaded tots are, and leave feeling like the restaurant has given them a temporary home.

The menu was simple: a front and back laminated white sheet with only descriptions, no pictures. As a person of judgment based on how food looks, I was having a difficult time choosing. I had to judge based on ingredients and imagination, not appearance. This was single-handedly the best idea for any menu. I chose my meal because it sounded great, new, and creative, not because it looked like everything else I usually eat.

After great deliberation and some provided snacks, I decided on the steak sauce infused burger with cheese and bacon jelly next to a pile of hand-cut fries. My friend excused themselves of their strict vegetarianism for a meal to have some wings attentively drenched in sauce.

While it was mainly the owner I had contact with, the wait staff service was nothing short of perfection. Each of them recognizable in their own way, able to distinguish from every other server. They made sure we were taken care of in every way: enough napkins for our meals, a completely full drink at all times, and satisfaction with every aspect.

Once the food came, there was no doubt in my mind that this was the most unique bar in the Michigan area. The smell was empowering, giving taste to air like a small-town, baked goods factory that permeates each molecule of breathable atmosphere. Every part of the meal looked freshly made, hand cut, and put together with precision to look its absolute best to be out on the floor.

Never have I been more glad to order something experimental. I am not much of a burger person, but it was ridiculously well-made and tasted like something off of a “top ten you have to try before you die” meals list that people pay hundreds of dollars to try once for the sake of it.

My sensitive teeth had a pleasant time enjoying meat that wasn’t like waging war with tire rubber. It was the perfect tenderness, with a slight crunch in the bun, and went exceptionally well with the seasoned fries which never seemed to lose their heat.

I’ve never eaten leftovers before, but this time I absolutely got a box when I couldn’t eat another bite, with every intention of finishing it when I could.

I hugged the owner goodbye, and left feeling a sense of family in my heart that carried out a good spirit I haven’t felt in a while for the rest of the day.

Skip, you should be proud. As I grew up, I got to see you grow as well. Our family’s favorite Sprint Mobile store owner grew into his business shoes and did something that made him and everyone else around him happy. We love you dearly.

If anyone is looking for a family, a fantastic meal, and something to put on and cross off their bucket list, The Win is where it’s at.