Prost!  Frankenmuth’s Very Different and Very Successful Wine Bar with Zak and Korina McClellan.

Zak and Korina created Prost Wine Bar and Charcuterie which quickly became a Frankenmuth hotspot. One of my favorite places. What makes Prost so different? Why do people keep coming back? I hope you’re hungry because this is a foodie paradise!

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Prost Wine Bar and Charcuterie Website (Click here)

Prost Wine Bar and Charcuterie Facebook (Click here)

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Transcript

Cliff Duvernois: [00:00:00] Today’s episode is brought to you by the Frankenmuth Convention and Visitors Bureau. Come plan your vacation at Frankenmuth.org.

  My name is Cliff DuVernois. After 20 years, I’ve returned to my native Michigan only to discover that Michigan has evolved and I’m looking to reconnect with it. Now I’m traveling the main roads and back roads of Michigan reliving childhood memories and discovering new experiences. 

And hopefully I’ll have a few epiphanies along the way. 

From restaurants, hotels, parks, any place that puts a smile on your face and moves your heart. 

I want to meet the people who are behind these experiences, learn their stories, find out what inspires them. 

Welcome to the Call of Leadership podcast. Passport edition.   Episode Intro Five years ago, I was planning a trip back to Michigan. I reached out to some family members asking them to pick a spot where we could just let’s just meet, relax, hang out, have a drink. 

“We’ll go to Prost,” they replied without hesitation. 

Located in Frankenmuth, Michigan. I admit I had low expectations when I approached the front doors of Prost for the very first time. 

This was going to be just another quickie restaurant, offering simple bar food and sloppy cocktails. 

Fortunately I was wrong. Prost is now the rendezvous spot for me and my friends. But what is it about Prost? How does it survive when it’s so different? Why do so many people love this place and who are the people that are behind it? 

They say that if you want to learn more about an artist, study their art. 

If you want to learn more about a restauranteur, study their menu.

 Let me introduce you to Korina and Zach. Two of the coolest people that you could ever hope to meet .

Zak & Korina: [00:01:54] So I’m originally from st. Marie Ontario and Zack is from SU Michigan, but oddly enough, he was born here. Canada. So we met after some travels out, I can speak to my destination. I went to school in Ottawa. I think my undergrad and on one, then I moved to Toronto and I worked there for about two years. And then I decided at that point that I wanted to go to law school.

So I applied to law school in Lansing and post, and it was just something different. And I got in and here I am. Your two way think excellently. And then my friend introduced me to Zach when we were at, in Lansing and that’s how we met. Yeah. And then I, I grew up in Frankenmuth, so I feel fortunate about that.

And my family has had businesses in Frankenmuth. So, um, you know, I’ve always been roaming around main street for my life, but then I play, I played hockey prior and I played at Michigan state. And then from there I played a little bit in the minors. And traveled all around. So I was gone from Frankenmuth for about 12 years, probably pretty regularly, just because of hockey and things like that.

So kind of re-introduced we both moved back together and then started Prost.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:03:10] Why did you pick restaurants as a, as a business?

Zak & Korina: [00:03:14] So it’s kind of. I think a little bit of a funny story. We always dreamed about pros being here and, and this spot in particular, we’d talk about it and we’d walk around.

And, um, I w was working with our family business in the candy business and, uh, you know, my dad built it, grew, it worked in it. And you know, that was like his passion, the thing he loved the most. And I loved working with him every day and thankful for it. I mean, right now, more than ever. And, um, But I felt like I needed to do a little bit more.

So one day after work, I was like, I’m just going to call and see if we can buy a liquor license. Not knowing anything about it. No research. I’m a gunslinger like that and green it. Thank God. I married Korina the lawyer to do some research for me now and get me out of the, you know, some crazy mixes, but I just called this lady and she said, I’ll sell it for you.

It’s to you. And she, we literally, I was like, perfect. I’ll buy it. And that weekend we drove up, you know, did the sale with her to Traverse city. She was such a nice lady, came back. And then I got a letter from the state and the letter said you have 12 months to open. I never knew that. I thought you could just get a liquor license and sit on it.

And so from that moment, I knew were into one. And so that if we really got pushed to do it.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:04:43] So kind of like you. Kind of like you jumped in and then figured out that, Oh, I’m supposed to swim now,

Zak & Korina: [00:04:49] right? Yeah, exactly. Right. That’s exactly what happened for us. It was always wanting to create an atmosphere and really want to create a cool place for people to enjoy.

And then we thought if we can do that, I hope and think the rest will just come together. So that was our main goal is just, let’s just make sure we provide excellent customer service and good, comfortable, fun atmosphere. It’s Frankenmuth. The community really supports one another. And if we can just continue to work hard and just try your best at Prost, then I think you can build on that and continue to be successful.

So we really didn’t think of much else other than let’s just focus on getting it done right at the beginning. So when he called me and he said, Hey, you bought a liquor license, my heart sank. I thought, Oh my. So I did some research again, and I found this out in Detroit and it was, her name was Mindy Lopez, she had opened a couple of restaurants in Birmingham, and now she had wine school and I reached out to her and I said, Hey, Mindy, no, my name is Karina.

I live in Frankenmuth my husband and I just bought a liquor license and we would like to open a wine bar. Could you help us? And she said, you sound exactly like me and how I started. And I would love to help you guys. So Joe, down to Detroit, we met her and she was a savior for us. I swear. She was like an angel.

She taught us, just came into our life, all the policies and procedures of a restaurant. And I’ll never forget when we had our, our soft opening. You don’t know what you’re doing, you know, but she was there watching every button at the end of the night. I said, I think that was pretty good lead. You were celebrating like, wow, that was amazing.

She had a list, like a receipt paper, long list. She’s like, you need to get all of this stuff by tomorrow. And my heart again, I was like, I felt defeated because though it was good. She said, you’ve gotta be great. And every single item that she told us to purchase, whether it was another bus tub, just something extra, we still use everything until this day.

It’s amazing. I w I loved the help from her, from my hockey background. You know, I really loved the somebody kind of barking at you and I, I respond well to that, and she was very good at knowing what needed to be done and expecting me and Korina to do it. And I just thought it was perfect. She was, it was a match made in heaven for us with her.

So we were thankful.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:07:34] Prost was born because a lawyer and a hockey player chase their dream and bought a liquor license. Fortunately, they found a great mentor, a real mentor who pushed Zach and Karena not to have a good restaurant, but dared them to be great. And they responded. They say that success is doing a lot of little things, right? And it’s oftentimes these little things, these small details that go unnoticed. 

And because they go unnoticed, it makes the experience much more enjoyable . But there’s one detail that I really wanted to explore with them.  

Zak & Korina: [00:08:13] We always talk that we’re, we try to be more European and our way that we do it than anything, because they, I feel like if you go there, they, they’re not as in as much of a hurry as us, you know? And, and, uh, you know, you see that in their service in their restaurants too sometimes might feel it’s slow, but it’s just because they want people to just hang and have a and catch up and have fun.

And. We tell our people that all the time, if people want to come here and sit at a table all night, great. Do they can, even if they are just having water or, you know, after the finished perfect, they’re going to love it. And they’re going to come back because you’re not trying to get them to move so that another table can come and sit, you know, It is 1000000%.

Exactly what you said and that’s why. Well, no. Yeah. One of the bigger reasons why we don’t take reservations really on weekends, because we can’t, it’s just not that typical restaurant where someone’s going to come and eat when you can gauge, okay, we’ll be here an hour and they’re going to be on, we have guests here for four hours.

You don’t know, we don’t care, just stay and hang and do your thing. We don’t want anyone to feel rushed you and this weekend, you know, there, there was, uh, you know, some tables that were here over four and a half hours. To me, that’s a success. You know, I don’t every, not every restauranteur might say that.

I think a lot of people would probably be like, what are you thinking? You know?

Cliff Duvernois: [00:09:32] Yeah, it’s all about turning burn.

Zak & Korina: [00:09:34] yeah. But honestly, I, I disagree in the certain atmosphere if it’s the right place, I think, and that’s what we wanted Prost to be a place where people can come and just chill and hopefully create an experience. 

Cliff Duvernois: [00:09:48] Now what about, cause it seems like every time that I say I’m going to be interviewing Zach and Karena, for some reason to know that there’s like a new business that pops up on that list of places that you own. And Frank have a, so  what are the businesses that you guys got your hands in here?

Zak & Korina: [00:10:04] So personally, just the two of us, and then I can let him continue on just the two of us. We have provost and then we have frequent coffee, which is something that specifically in Michigan. So we opened that four years ago. It’s seasonal. So I’m always getting my years confused. Um, so that’s what we do together.

And then Zach, you can. Yeah. And then I, um, when I first came back home, My family has been in the candy business. And I grew up in the candy business, fudge, uh, chocolates, all things in between taffy. And, um, so when I came home, I came back to work in that business and, um, and I still do that today. So I, uh, we have a few shops here in Frankenmuth that do that.

Each one, manufacturers, its own stuff. So I think that’s the coolest part about the candy business. A lot of candy stores you see, and. They sell the candy, you know, but they don’t make the candy. And, um, it’s kind of been something that as a company we’re trying to, to advertise a bit more, cause I don’t know, people know that we make everything caramels, toffees, taffies, you know, and, uh, I don’t know, a lot of people don’t do that anymore.

I had had a guy in last week, um, a rep for ice cream. And they make their own ice cream. They’re out of Wisconsin. He was a great guy. Um, and I just said, well, do you want to just take a tour of our building? And I walked back and there was like four ladies all making all these candies. And he literally looked at me and he’s like, you guys make your own chocolates.

I was like, yeah, we make all of them. And he dead serious looked at me. He was like, you got to tell people that more. He was like, no one does that. He was like, all these big companies, they all. Like there’s a company that just makes it all for them with their recipe. Like they don’t, you don’t walk in a back room and there’s four ladies making all of it, you know?

And I guess I never, I just grew up in it and I thought it was normal, normal. And so I dunno that not to get off the topic of this, but I just thought that was kind of a cool moment. That just happened in the last week.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:12:11] Now I’m starting to get it. Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. And the first female billionaire said,  “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everybody else.” Zach and Korina leveraged what they didn’t know to build something that was truly different and being different. Isn’t just something that they pay lip service to it’s put into practice, being real, being authentic. That’s woven into the very fabric of their backgrounds and it’s how they built Prost. 

So now I understand a little bit more behind the idea and the concept of this great restaurant. Now it’s time to talk about food. And wine. And when we come back, we’ll do just that. And if you’re not hungry, You will be. 

  Today’s episode is brought to you by the Frankenmuth convention and visitor’s Bureau German architecture, chicken dinners, and the world’s largest Christmas store are just the beginning. Franklin with is quickly becoming known for so much more than chicken and Christmas from trendy dining, the timeless horse drawn carriage rides, kayaking to adventure, parks, ballparks, waterparks, regular parts, sweet Moses.

There’s a lot to do in one trip to Franklin. Visit the must sees of little bit of area, then grab it your crew and find something new, waiting to be discovered, pack a picnic blanket, order takeout from your favorite place and let your kids delight and exploring while soaking up the little moments in life.

Join the generations of families and our hotels during the 170 fifth anniversary season in 2020, the perfect road trip awaits. You start planning your unforgettable family . Now back to the show. 

During our talk, our server, slinks up to our table. She lays down a few Charcuterie reports. Now charcuterie is a collection of cured meats. Uh, charcuterie board is a collection of meats, cheeses, toast, fruit, and sauces, all arranged to show off the beauty of the food. 

The server puts down this third dish something i’ve never seen before but whatever it is it is beautiful. 

They say that you eat with your eyes. 

And right now my eyes are starving marvin

German Board

Zak & Korina: [00:14:39] German board. The cool thing that we really wanted to do is we’re really lucky. in Frankenmuth we have some awesome, Butchers and  people that make their own products.  and so we decided we needed to do a German heritage board here, just all things made Frankenmuth.

And, , so that’s that, you know, our German board here with, yeah, Braunschweiger YAG versed, summer sausage,  the liver Patay, you know, all being made right here in town between,  we use Willys and Kerns for those. And both of those places are great, you know, and, and we see them all the time, you know, those guys and,  so it makes it cool for us to, you know, and if they try something new or have a new product, I mean, you used to have, , just a regular liver petty, and Willie said, Hey, why don’t you try our liver and bacon pate of the spending, try it out.

So we did, and we loved it and our guests love it. And so it’s nice. It’s nice. It’s nice way relationship that we have

Cliff Duvernois: [00:15:32] I know that growing up, usually the Pat Tay was something I avoided because it was liver. Right. But again, one of those trips to Europe, I tried foie gras for the first time. Oh, I can’t get enough. I’m like a little crack monkey. I’m like more, more, more

Zak & Korina: [00:15:47] Yeah. That stuff is so good.

Oh my God. But yeah, it does take, so you gotta, like, I agree with like, why you gotta like, things like that. You gotta, yeah. You gotta have confidence at first, you know where it’s coming from.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:16:00] Yeah, it’s good. It’s excellent. So. Is this the type of plate that you have here? Is this something that, you know, if somebody were coming to your restaurant and saying, you know what, I want to try that German board, would this be more like an appetizer? Would this be something I know you talked about, you know, pick and eat before?

What was

Zak & Korina: [00:16:13] It’s really up to the guests that we’ve seen. We see it all the year. They may grab a board to share with the table as an advertiser or some guests just come in and say, no, I’m, I’m here to have a sharp boogie board and have a beer, have a glass of wine.

And this is what I’m going to have as my yield. So. Yeah. Yeah. You know, we, when another thing too with prose is when we started it, a big thing that we always said was like, we know what we want to try to be good at, which is charcuterie and wine and cocktail program. We want to make sure we’re really good at all those things, because we’re blessed in Frankenmuth seriously to have two of the largest, you know, uh, family owned restaurants and.

In the United States and those, they do such a good job there. And so many, you know, like you can get a really great meal there and you’re going to leave full from those places, you know, that we just wanted to try to be when we started a really good compliment, right. Where people are like, Hey, let’s go, let’s have a board, maybe a couple of cocktails.

And then our reservations at eight here, you know, cause you never know. And when we first started and I, that was really, truly what we had in our head, in that aspect, you know? Um, and I don’t know. So yeah, we see people eat those as meals and we see them share them. You know, we don’t, I don’t really know where that is and you know, but

Cliff Duvernois: [00:17:37] what would be, what would be like if somebody were coming in here and they did get the sport, what would be like a wine or a cocktail that you would recommend to compliment or even a beer?

Zak & Korina: [00:17:46] perfect German? We have a German Riesling. I mean, you go like a little bit of a sweeter white wine with German meats. Off the chain rule of thumb is you want to stick to the wine region with the food that you’re eating.

So, I mean, German reasoning would be excellent with the German board. And then I would say, you know, Italian Keanu, Italian, even though you have a red wine versus a white wine. It’s just the different, yeah. The Parmesan cheese goes with, you know, like a little bit of a dryer, red wine. I mean, if you have a dry Parmesan cheese and you just that, and you literally drink the wine while it’s still in your mouth, to me, it’s like, that’s where it’s at.

Childhood & Italian Board

Cliff Duvernois: [00:18:30] So talk to me a little bit about the Italian board

Zak & Korina: [00:18:33] Great. So can you tell him where we have our Fujita did karma and we’re Della, which is my mortadella is like the meat that I grew up on. When you slice for Dell on a slicer, when is walking in the back of the kitchen.

And like, I feel like I’m seven years old walking home and my mom’s just cutting up Della for me. And I just, I get that feeling every time I walk into the kitchen and I smell the word pillow, and then we have the parmigiana Reggiano. Jarden Euro, which is a Kickboard vegetable. And then we have silvers get tomatoes and olives that dry Italian salami,

all the heavy hitters, key ingredients.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:19:16] Why is it that food always seems to take us back to childhood?

 I say that because this is like the second story that you have shared where you you’ve gone back to a memory when you’ve talked about food.

Zak & Korina: [00:19:28] I think my childhood was so important to me. Um, now that I’m older, I lost my dad when I was 15 years old. And. Growing up now, I find myself wanting to hold onto my, my past so much only because I was able to learn so much from him and my family and with them coming from Italy and sharing their experiences with us and just sharing their traditions, you have to hold onto that.

And I think that’s, what’s so important to me. I don’t want to lose that because you know, that grandparents are getting. They’re not going to be around like, you know, my dad’s not around. So it’s like, you have to be that one to try to hold on to your memories and stuff like that. Fate. And I think that’s very important to

Cliff Duvernois: [00:20:21] and be able to share them with the next generation that’s coming up and be able to create your own memories.

Zak & Korina: [00:20:26] For sure. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Italians love food. 

Cliff Duvernois: [00:20:31] That they do.

Porchetta

So let’s talk about the one dish on the menu that you wish everybody would at least try.

Zak & Korina: [00:20:38] I’ll set the tone for Corina to take over with it. But, um, we, it just came out. We just laid, made an new menu right before. Um, the whole COVID thing kicked. So it’s been brand new in the last couple of weeks.

Uh, but we make our porchetta in house and, uh, it’s awesome. We sold it for father’s day and yeah, Easter, Easter. Yeah, forgive me. We sold it for Easter. Uh, just, you know, as is everything was closed for, for ordering and, um, I mean, why if you eat the porchetta, Oh my gosh, it melts in your mouth. So we came out with this dish because we thought it had the chance at being a signature dish.

And it’s very unique. So yeah, as an appetizer, we used to carry the poor Kevin community couple of years ago. And I mean, in the funniest salicious, but women just have it on its own because that would, so our chef tried a couple options and he came up with this dish. So, so, so it’s like drop your fork.

Good. You know, like when you, you take a bite of it and it, it like hits you like a cinderblock I’m not kidding. It’s UNAIDS melts. It’s so good. When I first had it, he, we had a party and he made it, he was like, I want to try it with this party. So we were like, okay, we’ll put it on a plate. And I’ll never forget, like, everyone at the party was like, what.

Is

Cliff Duvernois: [00:22:06] And where can I get it? Yeah.

Zak & Korina: [00:22:08] We’re like, Oh, it’s just something that Jacob was trying. And yeah, it was like, you sit back and you drop your foggy, like Holy smokes. That is good. Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:22:16] Nice. And what is in this dish now? So we have

Zak & Korina: [00:22:20] A AOV on the face. And then we have the two relatively thicker slices of a porchetta, which as I mentioned before, it’s of course Tenderloin grafted, pork bellies.

Eat it, and then he’d fake it, which is going to give it that crunch your exterior and then on top. And, uh, and that’s an, a light dressing with some cherry tomatoes and fresh Marcona almonds

Cliff Duvernois: [00:22:52] All right. So I’m starting to really drool on myself now. So if it’s okay and I want you guys to join me, I don’t want to eat this all by myself, so

Zak & Korina: [00:22:59] we will, for

Cliff Duvernois: [00:23:00] Great.

Drinking Champagne

So do you think it’s more of the food that drives your menu or is it the wine that drives your menu?

Zak & Korina: [00:23:07] That’s another very good question. This is a great question. You know what a lot of, I mean, we’re, it’s like 50, 50. Yeah. Yeah. We are. We’re thankful for it, but yeah, I don’t know. I would like to think, I don’t know. That’s a great question. And what drives it more? I really think they’re good partners in crime here.

They’re excellent. Maybe we see it.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:23:30] it’s. Love it. Love it. Love it. Now you have, um, because I actually had some friends and I did not notice this before because it wasn’t until I started this podcast that I started getting really exposed to a lot of Michigan wines, but I know that you do, you do offer Michigan wines and apparently you have even the Mawby sparkling wines.

Zak & Korina: [00:23:50] We do. Yeah. We love Mawby there. They’re great. And we’ve collaborated with them a lot. Oh yeah. Yeah. They actually just started making a. A private label sparkling for us. 

Cliff Duvernois: [00:24:01] Really?

Zak & Korina: [00:24:01] Yeah. And we offer, um, each we have six different labels. So it kinda to make almost like a collector’s edition, if you wanted to say that, um, each label is a different kind of photo of provost that would like kind of, you may not even know it.

Like, it might just be like the under of an umbrella is one. Right. But then if it’s kind of a picture type label. Yes. But, um, so they’ve done awesome. We’ve been huge fans of them. And, uh, St. Julian, we do a lot of work with them. They, they have some unbelievable wines, especially like their Reislings are great.

Um, and Blackstar farms. We do a lot of work with them too. Um, it was another one. Yeah. We just started with Chateau Shantelle. And, but I would say probably predominantly we’ve done most work with Mawby. We have their, uh, Sex on draft. So we have draft wine. And we were really early in the draft wine game, uh, for the state of Michigan.

I think we were, we were either the first or second place that to have wine on tap. And I think we, I don’t know if anybody has six wines on draft. Um, I haven’t seen it yet in our

I haven’t even heard of it.

but amazing. I mean, it’s a great concept. And we, we recommended, especially a lot of our friends that starting a restaurant.

I mean, we just have why or why not? I mean it’s sustainable and you’re getting fresh wine every single time. And these are good wineries. I think people put the concept of, Oh, wine on draft. I’ll never forget our first, I think two months opening this lady came in and she did not like our concept of wine on tap and she needed knowing that she was a, a member of all these.

Wineries in Napa and this

Cliff Duvernois: [00:25:52] real Hardy Tony.

Zak & Korina: [00:25:53] Right.

We ended up winning a people’s choice award for our wine on tap. Um, with free flow wines out of Napa, you sent her out Elliot and Constance down to Napa last year, 10 years ago is what it was called. And, uh, you know, they looked at the flow and, and how much of the wine that we actually do sell and how many blends we carry and just the whole concept of process, what it stands for for us.

And we ended up winning was choice of word and in Napa. So I thought of that lady is no, it was funny, but yeah, it’s a great program for sure. Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:26:36] when you mentioned, uh, So you mentioned, we talked about Mawby and we talked about, uh, Blackstar farms. So my fiance and I we’ve had this ritual from a while now where we do champagne Saturdays, and every Saturday night we crack open a bottle of bubbly. We get the two cheeses that I know that she’ll like, but we always get a third cheese that neither one of us has ever had before, which is

Zak & Korina: [00:26:58] the wild

Cliff Duvernois: [00:26:58] find by the way, the wildcard. Yeah. And. We either get Sex.

Zak & Korina: [00:27:03] Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:27:04] Detroit or from Blackstar, we get their Delighted.

Zak & Korina: [00:27:07] Okay.

Yeah, I think we did try that. Okay. Have you tried that one yet?

Cliff Duvernois: [00:27:12] Cause I love to me, Rosè speaks of a very summertime type drink, you know, with the being a slight pink to it and stuff. And I just love that rosy color.

Zak & Korina: [00:27:21] huge Rosé. Yeah. I love it. I think it’s awesome. I just love the feeling of something cold. You know, I’m not, I like white wine.

Mostly the dry ones, but I feel like there’s something about a Rosa that you can almost kind of get that like Pinot noir or cab, because a lot of times there’s all these grapes, so you get that flavor, but you still get that kind of feel of like something cold and crisp. And man, I just, I just eat it up in the summertime.

I love it. Yeah. I mean, it’s I live it. Yeah. No, but it’s, I really like it a lot. Yeah. And I love bubbles. We were. Our whole staff really loves bubbles, especially our management team. If we go to any real function, we usually always have bubbles as a group. Like that’s how we start our meeting or whatever, you know, there’s always one to explain to our staff, Hey, look, you know, Champaign sparkling wine.

It doesn’t need to be yourself celebatory drink, or are you always going to have it on a special occasion? Enjoy it. Enjoy it at anytime with popcorn, enjoy it with chocolate and Julia appetizer. Enjoy it on a high day. You don’t have to wait for that special occasion to enjoy a little about the week. And so we’ve really pushed to offer more glasses above by the glass instead of by the bottle and then have more of the bubble option by the bottle.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:28:43] The, uh, I, and I have to admit this, the concept of getting the, the, the bubbly by the glass. It’s just, it’s just completely new to me. How did you even get exposed to that in the first place, but somebody did somebody bring this to you?

Have you seen this before?

Zak & Korina: [00:28:57] No, I think it just really stems from saying that, you know, he loves sometimes you just want to have a glass of bubbly and you know, sometimes when you’re having, you know, championing the price of a bottle of maybe not what you want to spend or nor do you want to have a whole bottle of bubbles, maybe you just want to have that one glass.

And typically if we go off, we’ll start off with one glass just to kind of set our night, you know, get the. You know, appetite going. I’m not telling you let’s make it more approachable and just offer it by the glass.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:29:32] Because I love that concept because it allows people to try something without committing to a bottle.

Zak & Korina: [00:29:37] Yes.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:29:38] So the one of the times that I came here, my fiance and I came here and she had like very little experience drinking, bubbly.

I love your Prosecco.

Zak & Korina: [00:29:47] That’s great.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:29:47] love your Prosecco, but I knew that we could come and get a glass of the Prosecco. And if she didn’t like it. Okay. But at least we didn’t have to commit to a bottle. And I think we want to drink in a bottle anyways, cause we kept ordering glass at round after round.

Zak & Korina: [00:29:59] that’s like what? We, that was a big thing too.

We wanted people to be able to try different ones. So, you know, we switch our menus up almost every season. We do. And so I think like last season we had a Prosecco, a champagne, a cava, and then we had a sparkling. So there’s four different regions all by the glass. So you could literally try all four and you’d be able to see what makes a cava tastes different from a Prosecco.

And then you can see why, what a Michigan sparkling tastes different than, you know, so you can kind of almost do the taste off right there. Right.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:30:31] Now, do you offer that as a flight?

Zak & Korina: [00:30:33] We don’t do them globally.

I, yeah, I don’t think we do well. Our staff is going to kill us for this. I mean, we have a ton. No wait options, but I don’t, I think we did have a bubble flight, but we did little, they were little splits. Oh yeah, sure. We did them in a, in a bucket, you know? So it was the same thing. Yeah. You could get a champagne cava and a perspective.

And so that way you can yeah. Sorry, new menu. I’m

Cliff Duvernois: [00:31:08] no, no, no. You guys are changing all the time and that’s great. How important is it that you’re? Cause I know you mentioned here, especially you’d rattled off like four or five places here in Muth where you get these, get these different meats and cheeses and stuff. How important is it to you to source locally?

Especially in, in like. You know, like, let’s just say Michigan to begin with, but in the area as well.

Zak & Korina: [00:31:29] as more, as much as we can, we’d love to source locally, but again, being heavy on that, that European vibe for us it’s if I’m going to put an Italian in a Spanish.

Sure. Oh, we have to import those items from those regions.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:31:47] Right? Sure.

Zak & Korina: [00:31:48] the most part, you know, a lot of our produce and whatever we can do our bread, hopefully you will do bring in the importance. Yeah. And we have a great company that we work with right out of Frankenmuth that does all like our greens and herbs and things like that.

And yeah, they’re awesome. Leafy greens. They’re amazing. Right in town. And I think you can even get things now from them, just for your home. And like when we tried, I mean, not plugging them, but now it’s just the truth. When we tried their, their spring mix compared to just a normal spring mix, which is all good.

It was shocking, the difference. And so that’s been fun for us to be able to carry that shocking gut. I just couldn’t believe it. Yeah. Yeah. I didn’t think that there would be that big of a difference, you know? But, so, yeah. So we’re really fortunate that we have them locally. Sorry. Sure. Yeah.

Even talk tales. It’s like, Oh my gosh, that’s a new client. Like our cocktail program is incredible. I mean, he speaks so highly of our food butter. I think our cocktail program is just a whole other story. Constance who again, we outsourced at the beginning, just with me, like we did with Mindy and we had our friend named Thomas and he was a bartender or mixologist down in Detroit.

And he came up to Frankenmuth with Mindy cause they worked together on a few projects. And so he gets set that bar for a bartender to say, Hey, look, you’re not just back there. Just mixing up a couple of drinks. This is a craft and people are really relying on you to showcase that craft. And this is how you do it, how you become successful and just being passionate or tender is the same as a chef, that’d be passionate about everything that you do and making your cocktails with really good ingredients and staying consistent.

And I’m really proud of our cocktail program because yeah, you can come in and get the same tasting cocktail every time. And I mean, it doesn’t matter who’s back there or not. They do a really, really, really good job.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:33:56] because oftentimes the cocktail is the first thing that people experience when they come in and see a restaurant, you know? And if you’re, if your cocktails don’t wear them, they’re probably not going to go much further.

Zak & Korina: [00:34:04] Right? I agree. Yeah, I do. And yeah, we work really hard at our cocktail program. Constance is our bar manager and she, she is fun. If you want to like, sit with somebody and talk booze. She’s cool. It’s her knowledge is off the charts. Whenever I hear her talk, you know, whether it’s a training or we did some classes online, uh, over the COVID and she is just incredibly passionate and knows a lot of stuff.

And she does her homework and I just love listening to her, but I find myself, you know, those people that you watch and all of a sudden you realize that you’ve just been like watching them, but smiling at them. But you’re not like even I find myself like that with Connie, when she talks to our people about the cocktail program or why we’re going to use this rum instead of this rum for this cocktail.

And she goes off about it. It’s like, it’s awesome. She kicks butt. She’s a big reason on our cocktail program for sure.

Being Different

Cliff Duvernois: [00:35:10] So I’ve been here a number of times. Yeah. Always enjoyed it. And I left there and I’ll tell you the truth. That the biggest question that I had was. How in the world does this place make it Frankie math, because it’s so different and it’s not a bad thing.

Trust me.

Zak & Korina: [00:35:25] to be different.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:35:26] Yeah. And you did, I mean, you guys really like pull the left turn and the cool thing is, is people responded to it?

Zak & Korina: [00:35:32] It was scary. Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:35:34] Why is it scary?

Zak & Korina: [00:35:35] It just wasn’t at the beginning because we knew we wanted it to be very different. Perfect. What would we notice that you look back at the menu, number one, to this menu people.

And I say this to the staff all the time into our kitchen, or are growing with us or Eric. I don’t know if they’re going with us, but maybe they’re just big. They trust us more and they just understand our concept more. So they’re willing to maybe take that risk with us and that journey with us. You can call it a journey.

And I think, right. That’s how I feel. You know, I just see how much we’ve grown as a business from our first menu. I always look back at that first one that you and I just like, wow, we’ve changed. We’ve changed a lot. And, and we haven’t been able to do it because people are taking the journey with us. So it’s really cool.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:36:20] Did you ever think that Prost was going to be successful like this.

Zak & Korina: [00:36:23] I think it’s completely blown away. Everything that we really thought was going to happen. We thought, um, we hoped for probably like 10 to 15 people coming in at a night and drinking. Uh, and having a charcuterie board when we first opened, I mean, that was, that was like literally really our hope and it it’s just exceeded all of our expectations and I really not like cheesily saying it, but I really think it’s the group of people that work here that really

Cliff Duvernois: [00:36:57] make the difference.

Zak & Korina: [00:36:58] made it that way.

It’s are, they are, our staff is really fun and they’re really good people. And we’re, I feel really lucky about that. Buy into what it is trying to share with the community and they respect one another. And they’re a really good team altogether. And that’s one of the, one of the funny things that people will say when they start working here.

So your kitchen gets along with your surface. Yeah. You can tell them, please. Thank you all you go. Oh, is it to say that they’re like, I never knew that they were all so stunned. That is so it’s so important, huh?

Cliff Duvernois: [00:37:43] What’s it like to be able to share something so passionate with so many people

Zak & Korina: [00:37:46] it’s really fun. You might, our body’s like buzz, not I’ll tell my mom and you’ll be a Friday night that, you know, come in here and see everyone and I’d be to hop in the car and I’ll call my mom on my way home.

And I’m like,

it honestly just gets me so excited just to see people enjoying themselves, having fun, smiling, laughing. When I walk around. If you see one person reaching on a plate or grabbing gear and they’re toasting each other or things that they order. Did you see that they just ordered that or? Oh my question, we’re trying that, like, I love that.

I just love it.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:38:26] When I started my journey at the beginning of this episode, I wanted to understand what made Prost so different. Come to find out being different is in their DNA. It’s something that’s woven into the very fabric of Prost.

Prost is a story that Zach and Korina are still writing. And they share it with us every time we go. But it’s a story told, not with words. It’s something that we experience. Experiences shaped by that perfect recipe of when you take great friends and combine them with really good food and great wine. 

What is the story that Zach and Corina are sharing? It’s simple. It’s a story of love and of passion. As told through their restaurant called Prost. My name is Cliff DuVernois and this has been the Call of Leadership podcast: Passport Edition 

About The Host

About The Host

Cliff Duvernois

Cliff is the host of “The Call of Leadership” podcast.  He has published over 500 short stories over Facebook, Medium and LinkedIn.  He is a passionate lifelong learner, marketer and philanthropist.  He currently lives in Reese, Michigan with his fiancé Sherry and her two children.

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