If you’re driving down I-75 in Birch Run, Michigan, you’re not likely to notice anything special about Tony’s. Nestled quietly next to a gas station, it sits, unassuming and unremarkable. At first glance, you might even think it’s a truck stop. But pull in the massive parking lot and one thing will jump out at you; the line of people waiting that stretches way out into the parking area. Visit on the weekend and the line is even longer.
It’s one of the most well known eateries in the area, partly because of it’s appearance on the Travel Channel’s ‘Sandwich Paradise’ episode of ‘Food Paradise’ in 2008. Rumored to be frequented by Kid Rock, Detroit Red Wings players & former President Clinton, it’s as big an attraction as the neighboring outlet mall (one of the country’s biggest) & the World’s largest Christmas store just up the road in Frankenmuth.
We decided to explore this legendary diner one late Friday morning. The line wasn’t quite into the lot, but at least 15 people stood waiting when we arrived. Impressively, we were seated in less than 5 minutes. Upon reading the menu, you’ll learn that Tony’s proudly brags about the quantities of food it uses.
11,000 lbs of bacon per week, (approximately 1,100 lbs. per day)
1000 lbs of hash browns JUST on the weekends
600 lbs of onions
625 lbs of tomatoes and they give away 900 lbs of candy per week
Order a BLT & you’ll get 1 pound of bacon with lettuce and tomato piled high on huge slices of bread held together with a knife that could have belonged to King Henry VIII. At the table next to us was a 10 or 11 year old boy who ordered one and when the waitress sat it in front of him, it nearly blocked out our view of his head! Yes, it’s THAT big a sandwich!
We ordered a simple breakfast of eggs & bacon, and a western omelet with a ‘side’ of bacon. When it arrived, the bacon was piled so high on the plate, we thought they were bringing a separate plate for the eggs. But no, there they were, buried under all that salty, smoky goodness.
My western omelet was so huge (made with half a dozen eggs) it nearly hung over the edge of my enormous plate. Homemade strawberry jam & rye toast flanked my plate. My ‘side’ of bacon? A basket with another pound, all cooked to perfection.
As much as we tried to finish every tasty bite, we found ourselves unworthy. Requesting carry-out containers, we learned that Tony’s goes through almost as many of those, as it does customers.
Breakfast & BLT’s aren’t the only massive meals you’ll find on the menu. A Ruben will leave you with enough leftovers for lunch the next day or two and one order of cheese fries can feed a family of four, at least. Still have room for dessert after all that? Order a banana split and while you’re waiting, you better get on the phone and call your friends. You’re going to need help. A banana split boasts an entire half gallon of ice cream and that’s not even including the toppings.
If you’re looking for a little something to take with you on your hunting trip, Tony’s also offers a ‘Hunter’s Special’. You have your choice of one gallon of chili or beef stew PLUS a stick of salami and two long loaves of Italian bread for approximately $64.00. That oughta keep you warm in the fall or winter.
Good food, a neighborhood atmosphere and very reasonable prices have made this hometown diner a success for over 50 years. It’s easy to see how current owners Denise & Steve Fritzer go above and beyond the ‘norm’ to make sure no one ever leaves hungry.