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Posted on Sun, May 26, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Newer Max & Bella's public restaurant boosts business at Ann Arbor Country Club

By Lizzy Alfs


The renovated dining room at the Max & Bella's On The Green restaurant at Ann Arbor Country Club.

Courtney Sacco |

Twenty-year food industry veteran Aaron Peggs knew the restaurant at the Ann Arbor Country Club needed a drastic overhaul.

Peggs — who was hired by the club’s new owners last year — decided to temporarily close the existing restaurant in the clubhouse, hire and train new staff, roll out an entirely new menu, and change the restaurant’s name.

Max & Bella’s On The Green officially opened in early 2013 and Peggs estimated business has increased by more than 100 percent in the past several months.

“We’ve seen a tremendous growth in business,” he said. “I pretty much came in and structured this like it was a brand new restaurant.”

The semi-private Ann Arbor Country Club is on 200 acres between Ann Arbor and Dexter in the Loch Alpine neighborhood in Webster Township. Club ownership shifted when a West Virginia investment group, A2C2 LLC, bought the mortgage after a bank-ordered sale in 2010. The club’s assets were transferred to the group six months later and the restaurant and golf course were opened to the general public.


The clubhouse at the Ann Arbor Country Club, where Max & Bella's On The Green opened earlier this year.

Courtney Sacco |

Faced with declining golf membership and sluggish business at the restaurant, the new owners hired Peggs as executive chef and operations manager. Peggs trained at the Culinary Institute of America and has operated various restaurants across the country. In 2006, he founded a food consulting business, Team Cuisine LLC, which works to turn around struggling restaurants.

Peggs’ task at the Ann Arbor Country Club: Convince residents in Loch Alpine and neighboring subdivisions to eat at the club instead of driving to other restaurants.

“I thought (they were) missing a lot of opportunity here in the neighborhood,” Peggs said. “Instead of having these people drive to Dexter and Ann Arbor to eat, (we need to) capture that. We have 1,000 homes around us.”

Michael Weikle, who lives in the neighborhood and represents the new owners of the Ann Arbor Country Club, said he’s also trying to convince diners across Washtenaw County to come eat at the “family-focused” restaurant. The biggest challenge, he said, is that people don’t know the club and restaurant exist.

“All of a sudden, we have a chef with the ability to put together a menu and a sous chef (Michelle Taylor) who can execute,” Weikle said. “I want people to say, ‘Let's meet at the club.’ ”

The new menu at Max & Bella’s On The Green emphasizes fresh and seasonal ingredients sourced from local purveyors.

“Everything prior to me came out of a box and can, and now everything is made from scratch with the farm-to-table idea,” Peggs said.

The menu includes appetizers, salads, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and entrees. A kid’s menu also is offered. Peggs said some of his favorite dishes are: Vol-Au-Vent, a grass-fed sirloin with a marsala mushroom base; the wedge salad; and the Salmon En Papillote, which is baked in parchment paper with vegetables and rice. Peggs said meals range from $10 a plate to $30 a plate.

The restaurant now serves Michigan microbrews and has an increased liquor line, including high-end products and liquors from local distilleries.

Peggs said he plans to change the menu seasonally and he’s receptive to feedback or special requests.

“We’re really customer-service based. … I always tell people, if there’s anything they don’t see on the menu and they’re craving it, just let me know and we’ll make it. … We have a lot of talent in our kitchen,” he said.


A portion of the banquet room at the Ann Arbor Country Club. The club's new executive operations manager plans to grow the events business this year.

Courtney Sacco |

As part of the overhaul, the club hired new staff and renovated the dining area. It’s also expanding its events business and plans to host luaus, movie nights by the pool and a lobster boil. Peggs brought in a competition-sized smoker and plans to make ribs, pulled pork and smoked chickens for the outdoor events, which will be open to the public by reservation.

“I have nine different events going at the pool this summer. … I’m trying to think: How can I get more business in here?” he said. “It’s either make or break us right now.”

Instead of hiring a separate catering company for private events, the club can now customize menus and prepare the food. And when the club’s snack shop opens at the pool on Memorial Day weekend, it will have a new menu with healthier options.

“This was the hangout place in the 1970s, and that’s what I’m trying to give rebirth to,” Peggs said. “(We’re trying) to bring back the community and make it a social event place and have it become a safe haven for parents and kids.”

The hours at Max & Bella’s On The Green are: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for lunch, and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday for dinner.

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Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Tue, May 28, 2013 : 4:50 a.m.

I find it very hard to believe anyone would go to any restaurant and be served 3 bad meals much less 9. We believe Max & B's is one of THE best restaurants in the Dexter/Chelsea and Ann Arbor areas. We rarely venture downtown to eat any more, preferring the beauty of a short ten minute drive on Huron River Drive to Max & B's at Ann Arbor Country Club to a stressful drive downtown and the requisite 15 - 30 minute wait for a nearby parking space or the long walk to the few open public parking spaces available. We particularly enjoy the patio dining nestled under the shade of many towering oaks. The patio overlooks two fairways on the golf course. It is very relaxing to enjoy conversation with a background of the sounds of nature complete with a babbling brook below. We find this much more relaxing (and healthier) than sidewalk dining downtown with the smell of exhaust fumes and the noise from the many automobiles that are jammed on the streets downtown. Our kids love Max & B's where they spend their time waiting for their meals drawing on the drawing paper covering the linen on every table in the bar area. They are also free to leave the table and venture downstairs to a small game and video area (no charge) where they congregate with kids their own age and challenge each other to a game of foosball or video game. The huge bonus for us is the uninterrupted conversation we enjoy when the kids go off to play. We cannot get this at home. I would recommend a particular menu item, but he truth is we have made selections from most of the menu and have never had one selection at Max & B's that we did not thoroughly enjoy. And, save room for house made from scratch dessert.


Sun, May 26, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

Max and Bella's may have tried hard to improve the food, but I must respectfully disagree with the other comments. I live in Loch Alpine and have gone to the new restaurant at least 10 times and have had 9 really bad meals. I really want them to succeed but the new menu and the chef continue to disappoint. The pizza is soggy and way overpriced. The ribs are fatty and taste like the ones I used to get at the school cafeteria (I threw them away because they were inedible). The burgers are just ok but cost 50% more than the quality demands. There are a few items on the menu that are acceptable such as the wedge salad and the onion soup. The more expensive items on the menu are not even close to the quality of similarly priced food that can be found at the Chop House, Zingerman's Road House, or other great Ann Arbor restaurants. Hopefully they will bring back some of the more inexpensive items on the menu.


Mon, May 27, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

Let me get this've gone to this restaurant 10 times and had 9 bad meals. When are you going to decide this restaurant isn't for you, after 10 more visits?

Nick Danger

Sun, May 26, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

Great addition to the Ann Arbor/Dexter restaurant community .I've eaten there several times and never had a bad meal. Wonderful food and fine service.


Sun, May 26, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

The new restaurant at AACC is a welcome addition. The menu is varied and the food is quite good. Especially good are their smoked dishes: 1/2 chicken with a wonderful mild tangy peppery sauce and their BBQ smoked ribs... And their salmon. Their other main dishes are served with a flair.

Elaine F. Owsley

Sun, May 26, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

This will be fun. I've lived "down the road" for 42 years and never been in the club. Since Northpoint closed in Dexter, there really hasn't been a restaurant that doesn't do anything different or interesting.