Yep, the rumors of a new café geared to young families coming to fill the hole near the corner of Division and Randolph streets in Traverse City, are true. ELF (Eat Learn Frolic) as it will be called, is the brainchild of Northern Michigan attorneys (and mom’s of young children) Melissa Whitman and Ellen Fred. Here’s how they explain their concept on the “Our Story” page of their website.

“Once upon a time we went to restaurants and cool coffee shops to enjoy great food and relax. Then we had kids, and we were hungry and lonely (and really tired) but had nowhere to go. But wait … we had an idea!!! (a really good one). To create a place for parents that had:

a sweet space to hang out in (check)

great healthy food + drinks (check)

classes that my kid actually wants to go to (check)

a kid drop-off option (OMG really!!!)


Elf is scheduled to open in December 2015. Until then, elevate the palates of your young ‘uns with this gourmet grilled cheese recipe from chef Michelle Rodriguez:


Grilled Cheese with Raclette & Lingonberry Jam



  • Good crusty local bread (your preference but I love 9 Bean Rows Sea Salt Fennel)
  • Leelanau Raclette cheese, sliced
  • Lingonberry jam (or use local cherry preserves)
  • Softened butter

Get a skillet or panini press nice and hot. Butter the tops of the crusty local bread, place buttered side down and spread on some jam & top with a few slices of Raclette cheese. Top with the other slice of buttered bread, and grill just until the cheese melts and the bread gets golden brown. Split it with your kid and enjoy the sweet and salty grilled cheese goodness!


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