WEBSTER TWP. — Residents visiting the Ann Arbor Country Club may have noticed a change to the club's dining area.
The restaurant recently completed a redesign of its interior, including a massive overhaul of its menu and a name change, in order to brand itself as a casual dining eatery in the community.
Max & Bella's on the Green features the culinary talents of Aaron Peggs, a 20-year veteran of the food industry, and Ann Arbor resident Jeff Gardner.
Gardner serves as the restaurant's executive chef, and has held stints at several Colorado destination restaurants as well as working for three of Ann Arbor’s leading restaurant groups. Peggs has formal training from the Culinary Institute of America and 12 years of experience at top restaurant venues in Key West, Fla. and Universal Studios in Orlando.
Peggs, the executive operations manager at the restaurant, said one of his main goals was to move the restaurant beyond food served from boxes and cans.
"Everything is made from scratch," he said.
The menu — which boasts of everything from sea bass to homemade Andouille sausages and gumbo — is inspired by Peggs' travels across Europe and through his training with top celebrity chefs such as Emeril Lagasse.
"We will be offering a lot of variety with our dishes," he said. "Unlike a lot of other restaurants, we will be changing the menu twice a season to keep the chefs on their toes. There's so much we can do with food here."
The revamped restaurant is quickly gaining popularity among its customers, and Peggs said it has already booked eight events in the last 90 days.
"People come to us and ask what type of food we can offer (for parties)," he said. "My response is often, 'What are you looking for?' East coast, west coast, southern cuisine, Mediterranean – we can do it all."
And with the recent addition of a smoker on the property, the restaurant will also offer its own smoked barbecue entrees.
"(Cooking food) is about making people happy. Everyone has to eat, so you might as well eat good, quality food," Peggs said.
That mantra has begun to resonate with customers, as well as fellow chefs, who have quickly begun spreading the word about the restaurant's redesign.
"Exciting things are happening on the culinary scene at Ann Arbor Country Club. New talent and a greatly renovated and expanded kitchen has created a creative, evolving menu and a series of special dinner events that are attracting foodie attention well beyond the surrounding community," Dick Sheer, owner of Village Corner in Ann Arbor said.
In the coming weeks and months, Peggs said the restaurant will continue to add locally-brewed Michigan beer and wines, and will soon offer light acoustic music to add to the ambiance of the dinner crowd.
Even with the new menu, Peggs said he is proud to offer meals at reasonable prices.
"All of our entrees range from $10 to $32," he said. "Our goal is to be a more casual fine dining restaurant."
Max & Bella's on the Green is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 5 to 9 p.m., and weekends until 10 p.m.
For more information, call 734-426-4693.