Country Club Comeback
as a chef at five-star restaurants and a stint with Emeril Lagasse, the club's owners took his advice and put Peggs in charge of the makeover.
A native of upstate New York, Peggs was already developing "a concept for a restaurant." That concept became Max & Bella's On the Green, and its launch is part of the club's grand plan to return to its 1970s heyday--minus the cigarette smoke--when the late Ray Knight set up what was then a members-only restaurant at the club in the Loch Alpine neighborhood northwest of Ann Arbor.
This time, it's open to the public--and aspires to be a destination restaurant. "We've gone from two people in the dining room on a Friday night to having reservations for forty-six this Friday evening," Peggs says. "Everything used to be served out of a can or a box," but now, he emphasizes, everything is fresh. Meat is ordered from Sparrow Market, produce from Frog Holler farm, and the menu is more diverse, featuring pasta dishes, steaks, ribs, chicken, fish, and salads--along with pub fare, pizzas, and a $5 kids' menu. He's replaced the "Home Depot smoker" the restaurant was using with the $20,000 smoker he had custom built for competitions--he also owns Max & Bella's Smokehouse, which sells smoked meats (his two dogs are the businesses' namesakes).