Local Eats: Try the new patio seating at Valerie’s Downtown in Saginawmlive.com — Kaitlyn Farley mlive.com
SAGINAW, MI 2020--SAGINAW, MI -- Valerie’s Downtown, located at 216 S. Washington Ave. in downtown Saginaw, has become a staple in the community since it opened last October. Even during the pandemic, Valerie’s stayed open for takeout and delivery.
Now, the restaurant is open for dine-in Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Here’s five facts about the restaurant to know for the next time you visit.
1. The owner’s name isn’t Valerie.
Juliana Stricker, the actual owner, named the restaurant after her late older sister. The restaurant’s logo is a copy of Valerie’s signature.
“A lot of people don’t know myself or my family, and they will naturally assume I’m Valerie,” Stricker said. “I see that as a compliment. We are very much a family type of restaurant, owner and restaurant, and my parents, sister and other friends and family are an amazing support.”
2. The owner’s friends and families appear as menu names.
One of the most popular menu items, Ma’s Trash Can Nachos, is a tribute to Stricker’s’ mother. Valerie’s Own is the name of the restaurant’s signature sandwich, which has turkey, bacon, cheese, guacamole and tomato. Another menu item, Neighbor Doug’s Roadhouse Reuben, is another popular option.
“On my menu, I have something named after my family members and friends, like salad named after little sister,” Stricker said. “I wanted to bring that personable piece to it. It was important to me to get them on my menu somewhere.”
3. A fan-favorite sandwich is inspired by the building’s former restaurant, Wally’s.
Stricker’s inspiration for the Cubano comes from Wally’s, the restaurant that used to occupy what is now Valerie’s. It’s made with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles or French bread. When she first opened, many asked her if she was going to also have a Cuban-inspired sandwich. Instead, she’s turned the shop into a sandwich, salad and Mexican hybrid.
“The previous restaurant had a Cuban sandwich people liked,” Stricker said. “So, I had a mentor show how to make a better one. I have Cubans that live here but came from Miami, so they know good Cubanos, and they will order from us.”
4. The restaurant now has patio seating.
Stricker is currently creating Valerie’s patio seating. After reopening for dine-in after the pandemic, she saw the patio seating as a way to increase the amount of people who can dine-in, as she only had 10 tables indoors before the pandemic. The patio seating adds six extra tables and opened Friday, June 19.
“What we have that a lot of restaurants don’t is an amazing patio,' Stricker said. “It’s a beautiful space. We wanted to get it rolling for this time of year, especially given the current situation.”
5. It’s been one of the most sterilized restaurants in town even before the pandemic.
Before opening Valerie’s Downtown, Stricker worked in the medical field for 15 years. Because of that background, the restaurant already had strict cleaning procedures before the COVID-19 pandemic, as her years in medical “really had OCD ingrained” in Stricker’s mindset.
“We’re really continuing what we’ve been doing here already,” Stricker said. “There are some extras, of course, such as doing some cleaning procedures twice.”
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