I have always said that we needed two things downtown, Ice Cream and a gas station. Well, what if I told you that we have one of the two downtown Muskegon on Western Ave?
MUSKEGON, MICHIGAN - Occidental Eats is owned by two of the most beautiful souls, Corrine and Eric Cockream. Their goal was to bring a little bit of Muskegon's History back to life and pay homage to the Occidental Hotel that was a pillar in the community before closing its doors in the 70’s. When you walk through the beautiful stained-glass doors you will immediately feel like you are home. You will see all of the pieces of history that the couple have acquired lining the back wall of the shop. The sweet smells of hot fudge and gourmet food fill the air. Corrine wanted to make sure that they added Eats to the name because she knew that it was going to be larger than just ice cream.
Corine explains “growing up I wasn’t really a fan of ice cream but I loved Chocolate” she went a little further and told us that she had three family members, two great Aunts and a grandma who worked at the Occidental Hotel. Her Aunt Virginia managed the candy counter in the 30’s and 40’s. “They make the hot fudge there and that’s what my family grew up on and that’s what I love on my ice cream. That is where the idea was birthed, to have the hotel hot fudge recipe that’s common and out there but there was none in Down Town Muskegon.”
Now Eric is a transplant to Muskegon and he was able to bring a little bit of his background into the business as well. Eric shares with us that in 2005 he met a Muskegon native by the name Nate Johnson on a prison yard in Ionia County. The two grew and built relationship where they would talk about the feature. Little did Eric know that while building this relationship he was also gaining family. Fast forward 10 years later to the Thumb Correction Facility where Eric was a culinary instructor. Eric had a vision while running in the yard of Muskegon only to go back inside to see that the officers had put information of a faith-based program coming to Muskegon. After filling out the application and a two-week waiting period Eric was transferred to the Muskegon 6 Unit to work in their faith-based program for returning citizens. We find out that Eric’s First job “back home” was Papa Romano’s and that led to managing multiple restaurants, being a food distributor, wine distributor and owning a catering business. Eric says “I like to feed people two ways, it’s usually the physical food that leads to the more meaningful conversations.”
After about five months of renovations, restoring this beautiful building back to some of its original charm including the hardwood floors and brick walls Occidental Eats is open for business. You will have the choice between one of their 20+ rotating ice cream choices from Guernsey Farms Dairy. If you are feeling a bit nostalgic you can get any one of their hard served Ice Creams into shakes and malts or even a Root Beer Float. You also have some amazing IceBox brands to choose from that are vegan and dairy free. If you are looking for more hardy of a meal you can have an amazing salad with balsamic vinaigrette. They also have E- Dogs with just Ketchup and Mustard or an E-dog with your choice of toppings. You can add a bag of chips to any order as well. These are just some of the options that you have to choose from with things being added all the time you just have to come in and see it all for yourself. You will not be disappointed if you do.
557 W. Western Avenue Muskegon, Michigan 49440