Who the shell are we?

About Us

Our Story

It was 2019. Some local visionaries agreed that, for all its splendor, Mackinac Island was missing something. The answer quickly became obvious. A brewery and distillery experience that captures the true character of the island itself. And so the journey began…

Early on, it was realized that brewing and distilling would not be possible on-site due to the island’s unique infrastructure. Not to worry. Necessity, being the mother of invention, led to two great brewing and distilling partners; both Michigan companies. Right Brain Brewery, an award-winning craft brewery in Traverse City, was “tapped” to provide signature beers. Les Cheneaux Distillery, located in the heart of the Eastern Upper Peninsula, was “hand-selected” to create private label spirits—perfect for crafting “all-Michigan” cocktails.  Then there are the dining menus…destined to be local favorites. Executive Chef, Jason Meade, has created a unique selection of sociables, lunch and dinner options with something for every taste.

So fast forward to June 2020. Great Turtle Brewery & Distillery opened its doors and ushered in a whole new chapter in the island’s dining and beverage scene. Our goal here is simple…welcome every guest to slow down (hey, it’s named Great Turtle, right?). Savor the moment, surrounded by family and friends.

Great Turtle means great times…welcome!

FAQs

Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery is located on Mackinac Island – right downtown, across from Shepler’s Ferry Dock.

Pets are welcome on the Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery Outdoor Patio on Hoban street.

We have several menu items that are gluten free. Just ask your server about the options.

We are open from May through October every year.

There are two ferry lines that can get you to Mackinac Island. We recommend Shepler’s Ferry, located directly across Main Street from our restaurant.

No reservations are needed for Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery.

Due to the unique infrastructure of Mackinac Island, Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery is unable to brew on-site. We have partnered with award winning Right Brain Brewery out of Traverse City to provide our Northern Michigan made beers.

Groups are welcome at Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery. Please contact us here to get more information on group bookings.

Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery offers 5 custom beers (some are seasonal). We also have a rotating tap of popular domestics and imports. Ask your server for what on tap the day of your visit.

We have our own private label Great Turtle Gin, Vodka, and Whiskey distilled by Les Cheneaux Distillery in Cedarville, MI in the Upper Peninsula, along with a full selection of premium and well liquors.

Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery loves families! We offer a great kid’s menu and cater to family members of all ages. Bring your whole family and have a fantastic time!

About Mackinac

Mackinac Island, located at the north end of Lake Huron between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas is the Jewel of the Great Lakes. The island is a popular vacation destination, annually drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors to its beautiful shores. For centuries, the island played an integral role in the lives of local Native Americans. In fact, the word “Michilimackinac” means “Great Turtle”, and comes from the story of the island’s creation. Today, we celebrate our great island home and welcome you to enjoy all it has to offer.

Meet our people

Jason Meade

Executive Chef

I have been creating great food for over 20 years and I am excited to bring my vision here to Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery.  We have created an eclectic menu with some excellent signature dishes.  What’s my favorite?  Shrimp and Grits. First, I love shrimp so that being the base of the dish, just makes me happy, and then I add a twist on the creamy cheese grits and fry it!  It is a must taste!  In the little free-time I have during the busy season, I like to work in my yard and I can’t wait for football season to start. Go Blue!  If I had to tell you one thing to do on Mackinac Island, I would say go out and be in nature at its finest.  Get away from the hustle and bustle and walk the trails.

Mike Rose

General Manager

I have been in food service for 49 years – managing a restaurant for 15 years and then 34 years working for Gordon Food Service where my time was split between sales and product marketing. Using my experience in guiding customers to be successful was a passion and I hope to bring this same passion to The Great Turtle Brewery and Distillery to help maximize the experience for our guests.  We want to create the ultimate experience for our guests by hiring a fun and competent team of employees. Treating everyone with respect is the key. When I am not at the restaurant, you’ll find me fishing, hunting, boating and spending time with my grandkids.  I am a bit of a saw dust maker, also.  I have spent a lot of time on the Island through the years. For years we would come at least a couple of weekends every summer and hang out with our friends and family. I like to interact with the people on the island, whether they are the tourists, the residents or the other business operators. My father-in-law is Butch Walters and is the original owner of the Mustang Lounge so it’s great to connect with the ‘old timers’ and talk about the history of the good old days on the island. Reading the Town Crier is always great, too. 

Chad Hoeksema

Bar Manager

I have been in the food and bar industry for 23 years – 19 of them on beautiful Mackinac Island.  I get asked about what I like to drink, and I guess I would have to say I love trying a variety of drinks but my favorites would be a nice dark rich stout or a classic vodka and soda.  In season, I love to explore Northern Michigan and find some hot fishing spots, off-season I will be deep sea fishing in the Florida Keys, traveling with my wife, Pearl, and being a great uncle to my 4 nephews and 1 beautiful niece. My favorite thing to do on a night off?  Nothing beats a nice peaceful sunset cruise around Mackinac on one of the island’s beautiful evenings.

Sandy Rose

Front of the House Manager

I have been in food service a big part of my life.  I have pretty much held every position – in both the front of the house and the back of the house. I have owned 2 restaurants and managed others for about 15 years.  I am very excited about being a part of a team that is set to build an incredibly successful (and soon to be famous) brewery and distillery on Mackinac Island!  My passion is FOOD – cooking, baking, eating, entertaining, and experimenting with delicious food! I love the social aspect of sharing a meal with friends.  When I want to unwind, I love taking early morning walks at dawn, downtown before the bustle of the day. It’s magical.  I enjoy biking the interior trails and my favorite thing to do on the island is taking a walk through the paths in the woods overlooking Fort Mackinac and the harbor.

Wally Arenas

Bar and Front of the House Manager

I have over 25 years of experience in hospitality – seven years of running teams doing restaurant openings and the last fifteen managing restaurants and fine dining. When you come in and want to order my favorite cocktail, a classic Old Fashioned is probably my favorite drink to make. I love to play sports. I grew up playing just about everything, but these days golf, racquetball and tennis are what I play when I can. There is so much to love about the island, but I think I enjoy the quiet the most. I like taking the walk around the perimeter and hiking the 70 miles of trails in the middle of the island.

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