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'Honored and thrilled' | Red Dock opens for the season under new ownership

The iconic Saugatuck restaurant and bar draws crowds every weekend. A former 13 ON YOUR SIDE Anchor and her husband took over — and here's the one change they made.

SAUGATUCK, Mich. — A woman is making big waves on the lakeshore after she and her husband stepped in to save an iconic local business — and you just may recognize her.

On the Kalamazoo Lake, the Red Dock has always been there. Visitors have come to expect its classic sights and sounds: the sun beating down on the weathered gray dock, the smell of boat exhaust, and their classic rum punches.

However, when the owners of 25 years retired, the future looked uncertain — until a familiar face stepped in.

Lauren Stanton, a former 13 ON YOUR SIDE Morning Anchor of 18 years, is a proud new owner of the iconic tourist destination.

“We go from 900 people in Saugatuck in the offseason to 10,000 people in the summertime," Stanton said.

The Red Dock gets an influx of customers every time the warm weather rolls around. 

"We have a giant parking lot, and it just gets filled up every summer, every weekend," she said.

This means "owner" is a job title she and her husband don’t take lightly.

“[Customers] come in with a smile on their face," she said. “We want to we want to keep the love going for everybody who've enjoyed it for so long."

Stanton and her husband also own the Saugatuck Retro Boat Rentals and the Old Boat House restaurant and bar downtown.

After Red Dock's previous owners, Tony and Dona Amato, announced they were selling, they approached the couple about taking it over. 

“He wanted to make sure the right people were going to keep on with the legacy," Stanton recalls, "we were honored and thrilled."

Regulars, however, feared change.

“I think people were worried some big corporation would come in,” she said.

Although, that wasn’t a problem for Stanton.

“The only thing that we changed is we added credit cards," she laughed. "For 26 years, it was cash only."

The Red Dock has always been a beloved spot for her, too.

“I've been coming here since my 20s," she said.

It helps that it's in her favorite place, too.

“This is my town," she said. “It wouldn't be Saugatuck without the characters that make up this town.”

From the décor to the menu, they’re keeping the Red Dock tradition alive.

“We wanted it to be the same quirky island feel in the middle of Michigan," she said.

She feels thankful for the opportunity — and for their unique small town. 

“It was all meant to be," she smiled. "I love it as much as my customers love it."

The Red Dock is open Wednesday through Sunday this summer. You can drive up or park your boat right on their dock.


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