Wood Shop Social brings new dining experience to Mount Pleasant

Story and photos by: Maddie Lajewski

Wood Shop Social, located off of Mission St. is a new locally-owned restaurant in the Mount Pleasant area that offers a variety of different foods and experiences for anyone in Mid-Michigan to enjoy. Jim Wood owns the new dining location with his wife and Central Michigan University alumni, Jenelle.

“I wanted a place where you don’t have to come with friends, but you leave with new friends,” owner and executive chef Jim Wood said. “I wanted something that’s unique to the area, something different because all the restaurants around here kind of serve the same thing. So I wanted to give people who appreciate food the opportunity to eat locally, instead of having to travel to cities.”

Wood described their menu as “new American cuisine,” but made it clear that it is not fine dining or a place only for the upper-class.

“Our menu is fine dining style in terms of the taste, but there’s nothing pretentious about this restaurant,” Wood said. “We don’t have any rules on clothing except just make sure you’re wearing it. I don’t expect you to come in wearing a three-piece suit. We want this to be a very eclectic environment.”

Wood Shop Social is one of the few “local” destinations people can eat at in the Mount Pleasant area. Wood hopes to help expand that.

“It’s sometimes hard for me when I listen to people say that they’re supporting ‘local’ because they’re eating at ‘local’ restaurants,” Wood said. “The only thing local about these franchises is the town that they’re in. They’re not owned locally. The people that own them have no ties to the community and they don’t care. I’m different, I’m a fifth generation Mount Pleas-iant. My family is from here and I deeply care about the community. I want to see the community get better. I’m not saying the community is bad at all, I’m saying that I want to play a small part in helping Mount Pleasant become a foodie destination.”

Most of Wood Shop Social’s staff has worked with and known Wood in the past, given that he has been in the food industry for 25 years.

“Ever since I’ve known him, he’s always had a dream of owning his own place,” general manager Una Ebert said. “I absolutely love working with Jim. Of all the chefs I’ve worked with in my career, Jim is the one who has been the most passionate about food.”

Everything that is served at Wood Shop Social is fresh, and many of the ingredients used are produced and grown in Michigan.

“The one that I really put a bunch of time and put the most effort into, a lot of research and development was our trout dish,” Wood said. “It’s a local trout from a farm called Henrietta Hills, just outside of Cadillac. We served it with a gulf shrimp succotash, a little green arugula and lemon vinaigrette on top. It’s a really good dish.”

Something unique that Wood Shop Social has brought to Mount Pleasant is their brunch menu, including multiple kinds of eggs benedict, french toast and an extensive cocktail menu.

“I always saw an opportunity in Mount Pleasant for brunch because nobody really does it,” Wood said. “So when I sat down with my general manager, assistant general manager and sous chef, I said ‘we need to come up with something special.’ That’s our Bloody Mary bar and mimosa bar. For all of our drinks, we don’t bring juices in and we don’t use mixers. Everything here is fresh.”

Wood said one of the popular brunch items is the PB & J french toast, which includes peanut butter mousse, berry compote, bananas, powdered sugar and syrup.

Something that is also uncommon is their hollandaise for the eggs benedict is made in house with Michigan egg yolks, made fresh every Sunday.

“It’s not your stereotypical toast, eggs cooked the way you want, bad potatoes, and undercooked or overcooked bacon,” Wood said. “That’s not what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to do breakfast, I wanted to do brunch and I wanted it to be really good.”

Wood said one of his main goals was to make the restaurant a fun environment for everyone.

“He’s created such a great atmosphere where anybody off the street, whether you’re high class, middle class, low class, it doesn’t matter,” bartender Anna McKeown said. “You can come in, sit down, enjoy yourself and have a good time without feeling out of place.” 

Wood Shop Social is closed on Mondays, open 11:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and for Sunday brunch 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.