The Coney Island Cafe in Varney has been on sale for three years

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Mike Varney may be in his 12th year at the helm of the restaurant that bears his name, but he knows it will soon be time to move on.

Varney has been trying to sell the building containing Varney’s Coney Island Café and nearby ice cream shop for three years. He received offers, but didn’t feel they were worth the previous 11 years he spent on them.

Varney used to run the restaurant with his wife, but after she died five years ago he began to lose interest.

“I’ve been in the restaurant business for 40 years,” Varney said. “I made more than enough money to retire. The property is worth incredible money to me with the marina, campground and M-25. It’s a beautiful place to live.


Originally from Oakland County, Varney started working in the industry at a Big Boy establishment when he was 14, then ran Lafayette Coney Island in the Oakland Mall in Troy for 10 years. He also spent time working in shipping and receiving which earned him good money until 9/11 when he was forced to return to the restaurant business because that was what he knew.

“No one was hiring managers in shipping and receiving unless they had degrees and all kinds of technical computer experience, and I don’t,” Varney said.

During a period when Varney and his wife, originally from Croswell, were unemployed, they spent a birthday at Harbor Beach and fell in love with the area. They missed out on buying another restaurant in town, but then rented the Coney Island Café space from Varney for three years before buying the whole place.

The square previously had a party store, but Varney removed it because the cafe was busy and needed the extra space. The menu has changed over the years depending on the desires of customers. The cafe also has a commercial size smokehouse for barbecuing.

Varney hopes his cafe will remain a restaurant, but acknowledged the new owners might have ideas for additions for things not currently being sold.

“I’m still only 58, so I have a few more years to go before I even think about getting desperate,” Varney said. “So it can be on sale for another two years.”

Although retirement isn’t happening yet, Varney plans to stay at Harbor Beach, preferring its beauty to the concrete jungle where he comes from. He wants to use his toys because he has hardly had the opportunity because of his restaurant.

“I have motorcycles, snowmobiles, jet skis, four-wheelers,” Varney said. “I can use the boat with Lake Huron right behind me.”

Varney’s favorite memories come from whenever customers receive their food and it’s something they’ve never seen before, like when they order omelettes and see they’re the size of a balloon. of football.

“I know skillets are popular around town, but at least 80 percent of people who order a skillet here have never heard of them,” Varney said, as well as when people order strawberry French toast and qu they see it stacked with candy. . “I guess it’s just the look on customers’ faces that they’re happy.”

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