Customer Spotlight: Barrel Back Restaurant

Author: Aaron Reichel

Date: March 23, 2021


Q&A with General Manager, Emmy Phillips, and Sous Chef, Hunter Williams

Walloon Lake, MI


Tell us a little about yourselves: 
Hello, my name is Emmy and I joined the Barrel Back team in 2013 as a hostess. I enjoy the fast paced environment of the bustling summer season and the stunning views of Walloon Lake. I was promoted to General Manager in 2020 and am continuously working to go above and beyond for our guests.

My name is Hunter and I earned the title of Barrel Back Sous Chef in 2020. My passions for the Culinary Arts inspired the new Barrel Back menu featuring house-smoked meats, wood-fired pizza, and Northern Michigan focused cuisines.

What does it mean to be a part of the Walloon Lake Village and what makes it special?  The Walloon Lake Village is Northern Michigan’s hidden oasis. The Village is filled with a rich history dating back to the 1890’s when railroad companies began their expansion to Northern Michigan. This pristine part of the world was later dubbed “vacationland” as guests from all over the country traveled to enjoy the beautiful views, great fishing, and boating. Literary icon Ernest Hemingway spent 22 summers enjoying Walloon Lake and Northern Michigan at his family cottage, named Windemere. This area inspired many of his novels, including the famous Nick Adams Stories.

Walloon is a destination where guests can enjoy the charm and hospitality of the early twentieth century with every modern amenity. The quaint Village is nestled along the waters of Walloon Lake and filled with local businesses, hiking trails, and is centrally located to all Northern Michigan’s major attractions.

Describe your partnership with Superior Foods and how you see the relationship growing in the future:  Superior Foods has been an incredible partner since we opened our doors in 2013. We work closely with them to provide our guests with fresh and local ingredients and food made from scratch. We purchase all of our seafood and proteins from Superior. We smoke our pork butts, ribs, and customer favorite brisket daily. They also provide us with their Superior Select brioche buns and asiago cheese spread, which is a component on multiple things within the menu. We look forward to adding more seafood and other proteins to our menu this summer from Superior.

What changes have you implemented over the last year in order to better serve your customers?  We strive to continuously provide an exceptional experience for our guests at Barrel Back. Many boaters enjoying Walloon Lake stop by the Village. We created an outdoor dock bar sitting right on the water for guests to order food to-go or have a cocktail. In addition, we have recently added additional outdoor seating on the heated patio and in the Village Green Park catered by the Barrel Back Food Truck.

Tell us about something new or exciting you’re looking forward to at Barrel Back this spring or summer:  We are delighted to be serving our guests in person again! Our talented culinary and beverage professionals are working to craft an amazing new summer menu for all our new and returning guests to enjoy. We will also have new Barrel Back t-shirts, hats, and other merchandise that will be available to purchase at our restaurant.


Barrel Back Restaurant opened in 2013 and is named after “Barrel Back” boats commonly found on inland lakes in the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s. The outside of the restaurant is completely surrounded by glass garage doors to create a unique, open-air dining experience overlooking the crystal clear waters of Walloon Lake. Barrel Back’s modern design, outdoor patio, lakeside dock bar, and expansive indoor bar (featuring over 23 beers on tap) offers guests a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy locally sourced cuisines. Their in-house, wood-fired rotisserie smoker creates an intoxicating aroma of smoked meats throughout the Village and gives our food a one of a kind flavor. Barrel Back is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 8:30 AM to 10:00 PM.

4069 M-75, Walloon Lake, MI  •  www.barrel-back.com

Related Posts

Produce Market Update View
Fresh Sockeye Salmon View
Customer Spotlight: Maru Sushi & Grill View
The Restaurant Formula Series with Gerry O’Brion View