The Bullseye Marketplace at 350 Johnny Cake Lane in Three Rivers delivers endless surprises.
You’re welcomed with the glow of a fire in the stone fireplace, then come upon a 52-foot long fresh meat counter, freshly made bread and doughnuts, and a unique gift section featuring mostly Michigan-made products. The delicious smell of homemade apple fritter French toast with caramel wafts from the cafe. As you wander through the store, the surprises continue — among them the Greek yogurt made from the milk of Jersey cows at MOO-nique Dairy, in Vandalia.
“This is the real stuff,” says bakery and café manager Dawn Stutzman, referring to the yogurt. “No sweetener at all, so it’s really healthy.”
The Three Rivers store is Bullseye Marketplace’s second location. The first market was opened at 59283 White Temple Road in Vandalia in 2012 by Israel and Jessica Yoder in a building adjacent to their farm. They named it Bullseye Marketplace because Israel is an avid hunter.
With 36 lakes in the region, Vandalia’s Bullseye Marketplace attracted many vacationers in the summer, says Debbie McKenzie, general manager of both Bullseye markets. But things slow down come winter, so the Vandalia store is closed from the end of December until May. For that reason, Bullseye’s owners sought a good year-round location for another store.
“This building (in Three Rivers) came up, and we thought it would be an ideal location because of its location on US-131,” Stutzman says.
A meaty experience
Even with all of the items to consider within the store’s 9,000 square feet of retail space, the main staple is fresh meat, with a focus on grass-fed longhorn/cross beef. The Yoders, who are Stutzman’s son-in-law and daughter, raise the cattle on their farm in Vandalia. The cattle are pastured 365 days per year, and their diet is supplemented in the winter with hay grown by the Yoders.
“They (the cattle) right now roam right next to the Vandalia store,” says McKenzie.
The Yoders crossbreed Texas longhorns with high-quality bulls such as Angus, Murray Grey and Maine-Anjou, and all their beef is graded USDA Choice or Chairman’s Reserve. According to data compiled by Texas A&M University, longhorn beef is lower in cholesterol than chicken. The Yoders not only pay attention to what they feed their cattle, but also raise the animals to maturity of more than two years, which is longer than the conventional time of 16 to 18 months.
It gives the meat “more flavor, higher mineral content and nutrient content and better texture,” Israel Yoder explains.
The store’s meat counter also features 32 feet of salads, summer sausages and take-home pizzas, as well as deli meats and
Baked goods, too
The market’s second focus is fresh baked goods from Farmhouse Bakery, a business started in 2002 in Vandalia by Stutzman and her husband, Virgil Stutzman.
“We have two breads that we actually grind the grains fresh right before we make them — 100 percent whole wheat or 100 percent multi-grain,” says Stutzman. “Most people’s grains come in already ground. We bring in the actual (wheat) berries and grind them ourselves.”
The Stutzmans started Farmhouse Bakery after they moved from Goshen, Indiana, to Vandalia. Because of their Mennonite background, Stutzman says, people assumed she must be a good cook and started requesting her food.
“A lady from Cassopolis had a convenience store, and she wanted me to bake Valentine’s cookies,” Stutzman says.
After that came requests for her baked goods at a farmers’ market and eventually entreaties for Stutzman to open a bake shop. So the Stutzmans opened Farmhouse Bakery and provided Bullseye Marketplace’s Vandalia store with baked goods. When the Three Rivers store opened in 2016, Bullseye Marketplace and Farmhouse Bakery merged. Part of the Vandalia Bullseye Marketplace became Farmhouse Bakery’s production center. Each morning the bakery delivers fresh bread to Bullseye Marketplace in Three Rivers.
“Basically we had two good businesses come together,” McKenzie says.
The farm, bakery and stores are truly a family operation. Some of the Stutzmans’ other children — they have 11 — work in the bakery, café, butcher shop and on the farm. Even manager McKenzie has a connection to the family: She is a neighbor and longtime customer of the bakery. Dawn Stutzman’s ancestors have also contributed to the business — food from recipes passed down through the generations is served in the café.
Food for crowds
With booths and a sitting area near the fireplace, the café seats approximately 50 to 60 people. It is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Stutzman emphasizes that all of the café’s food is made fresh every day, “not out of a box.” Menu items change daily, except for the most popular items, including smoked drumsticks, mac and cheese, and that apple fritter French toast topped with caramel.
“It’s along the line of a bread pudding,” Stutzman says of the fritter.
“It’s our top seller in the café, I think, as far as a dessert,” McKenzie adds.
But McKenzie’s favorite café choice? The sweet potato kale soup.
The market’s café also offers a meeting room upstairs that can accommodate 28 people. It is outfitted with couches, tables and chairs, and a bathroom and Bullseye customers can reserve the space for a variety of uses. When a customer purchases bakery or buffet items, the room is free of charge. If someone brings in outside food products, a fee of $2 per person is charged for the space. McKenzie says the meeting room has been used in the past for a regular story hour, and one customer reserves it every month.
“It’s starting to get kind of popular,” she says.
Bullseye Marketplace also caters for events such as family Christmas dinners, wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners and features its menu items in a freezer section as a do-it-yourself alternative. McKenzie says all of the catering items are available for purchase, such as large pans of the apple fritter French toast, cheesy potatoes, mac and cheese, meatloaf and smoked drumsticks.
“I did this for Christmas,” McKenzie says, motioning to the large pans of food. “I did my whole dinner with items from our freezer.”
The Bullseye Marketplace in Three Rivers also hosts events. An antique tractor show held on the property last autumn was “huge,” McKenzie says. The store owners and managers are hoping to put on more shows in 2018 and are currently scheduling tasting events such as soup and party tray samplings.
“This past Christmas season we had a different taste-testing event every Saturday,” McKenzie says. “It was really popular.”