Pat Eldean opened Piper Restaurant to complement Eldean Shipyard, which is run by her husband Herb and son Wade. Now 29 years later, the restaurant is a popular destination for casual dining in a unique atmosphere. It has been voted the Most Romantic Restaurant in West Michigan many times over by the Holland Sentinel readers. Herb and Pat have two children, Wade and Kori, and three grand children.
Pat, what’s your favorite thing about West Michigan?
Obviously, the access to both Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa. The beautiful beaches. I think the summertime is just fabulous - and the people here are, too. We moved here from Chicago many years ago and we just love it!
What is the best piece of advice you have received? How have you used it in your life?
I would say that if you are going to do something nice for somebody, don’t have assume there’s a payback involved. Do it because you want to. And I think that makes me a happy person because I can’t get disappointed that way.
What are you passionate about?
I like variety in everything - how I choose to rest, exercise, have fun… I love cooking and I like a diversity in my food. I don’t have a favorite recipe because I get bored. I want new flavors and I like to try new things. I like to read and I enjoy a variety of fiction writers. I really enjoy our grandchildren. We like to travel, but that’s getting harder. I guess you could say I’m passionate about having variety in all areas of my life.
Profile from Urban St. Magazine
When did you start in the restaurant business?
In the early 80’s my husband wanted to upgrade the coffee/ice cream shop on the property of Eldean Shipyard which resulted in the opening of The Sandpiper in June of 1985. In April 1997, it became the Piper (to have a more casual place where guests felt comfortable visiting more frequently and spending less money).
What do you do at the restaurant?
I continue to be challenged as the owner and general manager, always finding ways to enhance the dining experience. I love my job.
What are some of your business accomplishments?
Sandpiper has won several dining awards. In reality, I consider every summer Saturday night that runs smoothly - a business accomplishment! I am thrilled when I meet former staff (or their parents) and they share how their job here made a real difference in their lives.
What about your educational experience prepared you for this?
I graduated from the University of Illinois in home economic education and then attained masters in counseling at Northeastern University. I spent 4 years teaching High School home economics and later taught cooking classes in my home and cooking stores.
What are some of your pastimes?
Besides cooking, entertaining and playing tennis even when I lose. I love to travel almost anywhere. I have traveled all over the world.
What do you enjoy to eat and drink?
To drink, a bellini, This is a famous cocktail made with Prosecco wine (an Italian sparkling wine) and peach puree. A memorable food experience was in Casablanca, Morocco — Tiny tapa-size grilled cheese sandwiches, black olives and local Cabernet sauvignon - although it was a while ago, I still salivate at this memory. It’s particularly interesting since Morocco is a Muslim country - which produces wine.
Tell us about some of your life outside of Piper.
I’m a book worm, and consider myself a groupie of theatrical groups like Cirque de Solei. I’ve served on non-profit boards at St. Frances de Sales Church, Outdoor Discovery Center, and the Holland Choral.
In the summer I love to sit on my porch. Since my house is almost hidden by summer foliage, this spot offers peaceful Sunday afternoon naps. I also love to sneak into a late morning movie - it is almost like a private theater showing.
I enjoy the great people of Holland and love living near both Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan. I appreciate the pride that the people in this area take in their homes and businesses.