Greetings, earthlings! Area 52, a new sci-fi-themed diner, landed in Owosso last month, and it’s serving up out-of-this-world dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The restaurant is a love letter to co-owner Joel McGuire’s childhood.
“Growing up, I was a huge nerd,” McGuire said. “Nowadays, the stuff that I got made fun of for, like aliens and gaming, is super popular. I want to create a safe space with great service where people can come in, enjoy those ‘nerdy things’ and get a great bite to eat."
Monday and Tuesday evenings, Area 52 transforms into a gaming hall where guests can munch on food from a limited menu and sip milkshakes while they play tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer 40,000 or strategy card games like Magic: The Gathering. McGuire hopes to add classic board games to the lineup to encourage families to come in, too.
“There aren’t many spaces in Owosso that hold public game nights,” McGuire said. “We wanted to provide a space where friends and families can come play and bond over games while still being able to get a snack or a tasty milkshake.”
The menu at Area 52 contains an array of items that are full of cosmic flavor. For breakfast, diners can grab the Roswell Breakfast Wrap, which is named after the city in New Mexico where a UFO allegedly crashed in 1947. The wrap contains eggs, sausage, bacon, onion, peppers, cheddar cheese, hash browns and salsa. The lunch and late-night menus feature items like hand-battered Moon Cheese Curds and the Ray-Gun Rueben, which consists of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing sandwiched between two pieces of grilled rye bread.
Area 52’s milkshake menu is inspired by the ice-cream parlors and malted-milkshake shops McGuire patronized while growing up on the West Coast. The Abducted Brown Cow, a blend of chocolate syrup, vanilla ice cream and Coke that’s topped with whipped cream and a cherry, sent me into another galaxy after one sip. The restaurant’s managers informed me that the restaurant’s Cake of the Day shake is also popular among diners. Each concoction contains an entire slice of cake that’s blended with either chocolate or vanilla ice cream.
In addition to being a science-fiction buff, McGuire is also a longtime fan of competitive eating competitions. After befriending a few competitive eaters in the area, he was inspired to establish the Forbidden Burger Challenge at Area 52. Diners have 30 minutes to chow down on more than 6 pounds of food: a burger with 20 layers of beef, bacon and cheese; a pound of fries; and a large milkshake. Those who complete the challenge receive the $40 meal for free, plus a commemorative T-shirt and a photo on the restaurant’s Wall of Fame. As of early July, four people had taken on the challenge, but only one had succeeded.
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