The RedWater Collection acquires The Butler restaurant

The Butler offers waterfront views of the Kalamazoo River/Kalamazoo Lake harbor and the boardwalk. Courtesy RedWater Collection

The RedWater Collection is adding a waterfront eatery in Saugatuck to its portfolio of restaurants.

Cascade Township-based The RedWater Collection said last week that it signed a purchase agreement to acquire The Butler restaurant at 40 Butler St. in Saugatuck.

The Butler has been owned and operated by the White/Phelps family since 1961 and offers casual American fare — including its signature Butler Burger — and waterfront views of the Kalamazoo River/Kalamazoo Lake harbor and the boardwalk. The Butler features a large patio for outdoor dining and live entertainment during the spring and summer.

The Butler will join The RedWater Collection’s nine other restaurants in West Michigan, including Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant, Cork Wine & Grille, FireRock Grille, Gravity Taphouse Grille, RedRock Grille, Reds at Thousand Oaks, Rush Creek Bistro, Vintage Prime & Seafood and the restaurant at Muskegon Country Club, opening spring 2022.

“Our fine group of restaurants continues to support West Michigan with jobs within the restaurant industry. Our well-trained team takes pride in offering great food, service and a relaxed ambiance within each of our restaurants,” said Craig Smith, COO, The RedWater Collection. “We are very excited about expanding RedWater Restaurant Group to the lakeshore community of Saugatuck to serve the local community and visitors to the city. The Butler is a great addition to the RedWater Restaurant Group collection of quality dining establishments.”

During the past four years, RedWater has expanded its collection of restaurants and golf clubs along the lakeshore with the addition of Ravines Golf Club in Saugatuck and Boatwerks in Holland in 2018, RedRock Grille and Macatawa Golf Club in North Holland in 2019 and, most recently, Muskegon Country Club in Muskegon.

RedWater said it plans to keep The Butler operating “business as usual” and will retain all staff, including its key leadership, who have worked at The Butler for more than 40 years combined.

“The team (at The Butler) has done an amazing job serving the community, and they have been great ambassadors to visitors during Saugatuck’s lively summers,” RedWater management said.

Vicki Phelps is one of the sellers of The Butler.

“This is an exciting and emotional time for our family,” she said. “We are sad to part ways with the ownership of this restaurant that has been such an integral part of our lives for many, many years, but we are pleased to announce RedWater as the new owners of this historic establishment.”

Stephen Phelps, another seller, added: “We searched hard to find the right people to pass off The Butler reins and are confident that RedWater will maintain The Butler’s reputation and take great care of our guests and team. We look forward to watching RedWater take this restaurant that we worked so hard to build to a new level.”

Emily Phelps, also part of the ownership team, said the family is “extremely grateful for all of our loyal customers, staff, friends, family and the Saugatuck and Douglas community. We have gained so many great memories and are excited to start a new chapter in our lives.”

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