'Hell's Kitchen' SUV creates a buzz

Marie Havenga • Oct 26, 2017 at 8:00 AM

A black Chevy Suburban with “Food Network” and “Hell's Kitchen” logos is creating quite a buzz in Grand Haven.

Just like the Noto family had hoped it would.

The 2015 Suburban has been seen parked at the former Bil-Mar Restaurant and on local streets. It belongs to the Noto family of restaurants, which recently purchased the Bil-Mar with plans to renovate it and reopen in March.

Chef Robert Hesse, a fan favorite on two seasons of Food Network's “Hell's Kitchen,” is the executive chef for Noto's Old World Italian Restaurant in the Grand Rapids area. He also will be the chef for Noto’s at the Bil-Mar.

Because of Hesse's Food Network and “Hell's Kitchen” background, he is allowed to use their logos. Tony Noto said the company purchased the Suburban specifically for that reason.

“We bought it once we secured Chef Robert,” Noto said. “It's the company vehicle. It's part of our marketing campaign to try to create that buzz.

“You see a Ford Pinto going down the street and you don't think much of it,” he added. “You see a Suburban that says 'Food Network' and people are looking for Gordon Ramsey. We're just trying to create some interest.”

At the company’s Cascade restaurant, the vehicle is used to shuttle customers in from area hotels.

Noto said when Noto's at the Bil-Mar opens in the spring after major renovations to the beach-side restaurant, the vehicle could potentially be used to pick up customers in Grand Haven.

The renovation plans include moving the kitchen and bar, removing part of the ceiling and installing a chandelier, adding an outdoor deck suitable for many types of weather, and opening up the floor plan and the view. Once you walk in the door, you'll be able to see a wide expanse of Lake Michigan shoreline. The upstairs will include a balcony with additional space for banquets.

“There will be more of an elegance to the view,” Noto said.

Noto said the March opening means they will be able to cater to locals first, before the tourists arrive.

“We're not going to be open just for the tourists,” he said. “We're very much wanting to develop that Grand Haven community. We'll be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

When the tourists do arrive, Noto said he thinks it will be a popular breakfast spot for campers at the Grand Haven State Park.

“Can you imagine the campers just walking down the road?” he asked. “They don't make their bacon and eggs like they used to.”

Noto’s brother, Tom Noto, said whenever he's at the Bil-Mar site, often with the Suburban, people stop to talk.

“I know it does turn some heads,” Tom said of the vehicle signage. “Anytime I'm outside and someone is walking by, they're all stopping. The excitement is overwhelming.”

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