The Farmhouse dishes up fresh, modern dining experience 

June 6, 2023

Photo by Jill DeVries-Dryer

The Farmhouse dishes up fresh, modern dining experience 

By Fred Inglis, Contributing Writer

BENONA TOWNSHIP — The newest restaurant in Oceana County opened last weekend on Scenic Drive near Stony Lake. “The Farmhouse” is the creation of Kayla and Jason Wenk, and just as they did with their purchase of Oceana Golf Club and Benona Shores Golf Club, they invested in a local business then gave it a fresh, modern look that should appeal to golfers, locals and tourists alike.

“We established the name ‘The Farmhouse’ early on,” says Kayla Wenk. “We just saw so much potential in it.” Locals may remember the history of the site. It was originally built in 1995 by the Benona Shores GC developers Bob and Maryann Hukill. Their daughter Betty and her husband Art Jones first operated it and called it “Par 5”. Other owners renamed it “Applewood Grille”, “Honk and Holler”, and finally “Cellar 36” before the Wenks bought the site last summer.

“I feel the energy from spaces, and I really loved the structure and the location,” says Kayla Wenk. This is Kayla’s first restaurant remodel, but her successful experience in interior design in corporate and residential buildings inspired her to turn a dull environment into a bright welcoming space with all new lighting, murals, bar, and seating. “There was a good bounce to the building and just needed to be started from scratch again,” says Kayla.

Jason Wenk is an Oceana County native and graduate of Shelby High School. The Wenks work and reside in Southern California, but they expect to spend much more time enjoying their recently purchased home on Lake Michigan with their 19-month-old son Winter. “We wanted a place to go and serve the kind of food and the variety that we love in a casual family environment,” says Kayla.

“All of Jason’s family still live in the area and we just love the community here. We feel there are other people around here who enjoy the same things we do.” The Wenks hired Dennis Glover to run the day to day operations. “The Farmhouse” chef and general manager was born in Muskegon and attended culinary school in New York. Glover’s extensive experience includes 10 years as chef at Spring Lake Country Club and five years as instructor at Baker College Culinary school.

“Everything about this is new,” says Glover. “Not just the building design, but the food is a new kind of organic, sustainable concept that is generally not seen a lot in western Michigan.” Glover has won several awards for his baby back ribs recipes, but the menu also features a wide range of salads, bowls, sandwiches, and entrees. Items like The Farmhouse Burger, Brisket Rueben, Grandma’s BLT, Quinoa Lentil Bowl, and Seared Salmon should appeal to everyone from meat lovers to vegans.

“The Wenks were genuine when they said they’d be very hands off. They want it to be my food, my ideas. They allowed me to use local partners as my source for herbs, meats, and cheeses. I was able to build the kitchen from the ground up.”

The outdoor patio has been expanded and refurbished. It overlooks the sprawling 17th hole of the Benona Shores GC. Kayla says they could add live music on weekends. There is also a separate room that could also serve as a meeting or private party room. “We want to make this a place where people can eat good food or have a drink with friends in a great atmosphere. But we also have several Michigan products and merchandise that tourists can take home as part of their visit to the area.”

“We want to meet and incorporate more and more local farmers, wineries, and local artisans to the shop. We think it’s important to support the community in that way.” Jason says Kayla is the braintrust behind “The Farmhouse,” but Jason is the curator of the eclectic wine list. They are open with a full bar seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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