HomeRestaurants and DiningCourthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernesto's)

Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernesto's) - Plymouth MI

Address: 41661 Plymouth Rd
City: Plymouth
State: MI
Zip: 48170
County: Wayne
Number of visits to this page: 1098
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General Information:

Update 12-27-2023 from Jim Skelly: "This closed a few years ago, Sam Messina sold the building to a condo developer, then he died. The building was razed this past Fall."

From hometownlife.com Darrell Clem - Canton Observer: The Courthouse Grille site began as an 1890s farmhouse until then-owner Jacob Stremich converted his family home into the Hillside Inn in 1934, serving American fare. Stremich kept it until Messina bought it in 1983, added an outdoor patio and changed the name seven years later to Ernesto's, an Italian-style eatery named after chef Ernesto DeMichelle.

"He was the heart and soul of this place," Messina said. "He was such a genuine, sincere person."

DeMichelle, who was 72 when Messina hired him, worked as chef for 10 years, during some of the restaurant's best years, before his death.

It was during DeMichelle's reign in the kitchen that Plymouth City Manager Paul Sincock and his wife Traci had their wedding reception there.

"It worked out really well," Sincock said, adding that Messina's business "has been a longstanding place in the community."

After DeMichelle's death, Messina sold the business in 2001, but the new owner eventually defaulted on his loan and Messina took over, again, in 2011. He changed the name to reflect the restaurant's proximity to its next-door neighbor, Plymouth's 35th District Court.

The 500-seat eatery has about 30 employees and has drawn the likes of actor Paul Newman and auto industry executive Lee Iacocca. But it's the regular customers Messina has cherished — patrons like Tom Young, who said he goes to the Courthouse Grille for "the wonderful food and traditional setting."

"Sam is a very nice guy who is very ingrained in the Plymouth culture," said Young, owner of Keystone Human Resources in Plymouth. "He treats his employees very well and the people in the community all love Sam."

Young accompanies his wife, Elizabeth Sisk, and clients to a restaurant that he said does "a phenomenal job." He said Messina provides only the best service.

Still, Young understands the owner's need to move on and said Messina deserves it.

"He works a hundred hours a week," Young said. "The only negative is that we regret to see him go."

Wes Graff, president of the Plymouth Community Chamber of Commerce, said the Courthouse Grille is one of the places his office has recommended for events ranging from bridal showers to business meetings.

"It has been a longtime staple in our community," Graff said.

Messina tries to shrug off personal accolades. He doesn't want the Courthouse Grille closing to be about him. He said it's his employees who, over the years, have made his business successful with an appealing menu, quality food, good service and attention to detail.

"I'm just the person who helped deliver that," he said.

Calling his situation "bittersweet," Messina is confident he has made the right decision, though he is a young 77 and still has plenty of energy.

"I feel great," he said. "I feel like I could do this for another 10 years."

Sometimes, though, a good businessman knows when it's time to let go.

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 Photos:15
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Web Listing Photo
Web Listing Photo
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Web Listing Photo
Web Listing Photo
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Web Listing Photo
Web Listing Photo
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Web Listing Photo
Web Listing Photo
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Web Listing Photo
Web Listing Photo
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Web Listing Photo
Web Listing Photo
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Web Listing Photo
Web Listing Photo
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Web Listing Photo
Web Listing Photo
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Historical Photo
Historical Photo
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Feb 22 1976 Review
Feb 22 1976 Review
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Mar 9 1990 Article
Mar 9 1990 Article
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Nov 1989 Article
Nov 1989 Article
Courthouse Grille (Hillside Inn, Ernestos) - Sep 12 1980 Article
Sep 12 1980 Article
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