By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON HARBOR — A change at the North Shore Inn has been in the making for the last few months.
Tom Howe, owner of the restaurant/bar at the corner of Higman Park Road and North Shore Drive, is retiring and sold the business to Anne-Elise Lansdown.
Lansdown is the sister of Jay Fettig, who owns the recently opened North Pier Brewing Co. across from the North Shore Inn.
“The sale is final. I’ve been battling with the decision for a while now,” Tom Howe said in an interview Monday. “Right now, I’m in hospice care. I’m trying to beat a returning illness. It played a decision into selling the place.”
Tom and Nancy Howe bought the restauarnt in the winter of 1991 and have seen it rise as a popular fixture in the community.
Howe said he began talking to Lansdown about potentially buying the North Shore Inn in early 2016. Lansdown said she and her husband are in the process of moving from San Francisco to Chicago and felt the timing was right for the offer.
Lansdown said she spoke with Howe sparingly throughout the year, where a deal was eventually reached during the Senior PGA in May.
The deal officially closes in October, Howe said. However, Lansdown said she plans to spend September shadowing the Howes to see how the Inn operates.
“My family has known Tom and Nancy for years,” Lansdown said. “It came about by chance. It was great because they actually reached out to us and have been helpful for the whole process. I’m thrilled to not only to be moving back to the area, but to join the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor business community.”
Lansdown said her main goal is to maintain the restaurant’s character.
The North Shore Inn is best known for its burgers and as the go-to stop for food during the Senior PGA Championship when it’s held at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores. Golfers and spectators pass by it when moving from hole 13 to 14.
“It’s a special part of the community. We want to keep the amazing burgers, staff and atmosphere going,” Lansdown said. “We want to maintain its tradition.”
Across the street at North Pier Brewing Co., Fettig said it’s sad to see the Howes retire.
When Fettig’s brewpub first opened in May, Howe and his staff offered to have food run over to North Pier because it did not have a kitchen to make and serve food.
“They never really wanted to sell the business, but they were looking foward to retirement,” Fettig said. “It’s kind of sad to see them retire, but I always had fun going over there to hang out with Tom and have a beer. I know (my sister) will do well.”