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No Place Like Bridge Street Social

For mid-Michigan restauranteur Mike Luther, there’s no place like home.

“Lansing is a great place to own a business,” he said of his Bridge Street Social restaurant at 107 S. Bridge St. in DeWitt. “We attract visitors from all over the country (and) world due to the state government and MSU, while also maintaining a charming small-town feel.

“We feel we are both part of a smaller community in DeWitt, while also creating a larger community that pulls from many areas across the state,” Luther added.

Bridge Street Social opened in 2016 to fulfill Luther’s desire to enhance the dining and wine culture in the Greater Lansing area. To that end, Bridge Street offers more than 100 wines by the glass, which Luther said, “as far as I’m aware is one of — if not the — largest selection in the state, so there’s definitely something for everyone.

Bridge Street Food

“We have what we feel is the best wine list, even extending to our beverage program as a whole, in the Lansing area,” he said. “We push the boundaries on food at times but generally offer relatively simple, thoughtful options that fit the Lansing vibe extremely well.”

In 2022, Bridge Street earned Wine Spectator magazine’s Award of Excellence, which is given to the creators of thoughtfully chosen wine lists containing both quality and diverse selections that are comparable with the food menu’s stye and pricing.

Bridge Street has also sponsored eight wine professionals who earned designations from the Court of Master Sommeliers during their employment there, including four who have gone on to become certified sommeliers with the court, according to Luther.

“We are proud of our educational push with our staff, and what we like to call the democratization of wine to the Lansing market,” Luther said. “Wine can sometimes seem unapproachable, and we really try to make it easy to understand and enjoy with our team.”

In fact, Luther said it’s the team that makes it all come together at Bridge Street.

“I am very fortunate to have found so many special people to work and learn with, and the family of the community that shares and supports us in this journey together,” he said.

That sharing and support extends beyond the local community.

“We have hosted several dinners with prestigious winemakers, which is an incredible opportunity for many community members who are into that sort of thing, like we are,” Luther said. “We’ve also created a club — BSS Wine Fam — that offers a quarterly subscription for four specialized wines hand-selected from our certified sommelier, which includes information about the storied wines as well as recipes to pair with to make for an amazing dinner party or just a special treat for yourself at home.”

Mark working

Luther wasn’t always a restauranteur. He pivoted to the hospitality industry after a successful two-decade run as a commercial banker in Greater Lansing.

“I got burned out and frustrated from the constant mergers in that world,” he said. “I had always dabbled in cooking, but it was just a hobby. So, after some consideration, in 2013 we purchased a restaurant — which we no longer own — and what had been a hobby for me became a career.

“I once told myself as we got into the restaurant business that I would never find myself in the kitchen cooking. But it is now what I do daily, and sort of can’t imagine not doing it,” Luther added. “My only advice would be that you need to love what you do in this industry. It needs to be your passion — and, over everything, hospitality must come first.”

At times, the work has been challenging.

“Outside of COVID, the challenge mostly has been to break out of the ‘wine bar’ moniker. We offer much more than wine. We strive constantly to be more than that,” he said. “We have many guests whose first inclination isn’t wine at all, but they still love us. And that is much of what we strive for. Hospitality is first for us, always.

“I tell the staff all the time that we are in the hospitality business, and with that we try to offer an experience during your time with us,” Luther said.

As for the future, Luther plans to push to keep expanding the offerings at Bridge Street.

“Keep them fresh and new but also familiar, while striving to be the best in hospitality this market has to offer,” he said. “We have some new and exciting ideas that we are currently working on, so stay tuned for great things to come in the not-so-distant future.”