The Fort Gift Shop and Candy Kitchen has been in the same family since 1961. George and Katherine Stemkoski started their business on this corner as a Hot Dog stand at the same time Fort Michillmackinac opened accross the street. The business looked promising, so they soon built a building that included a full service restaurant and a nice size gift shop. Also, the upstairs featured a large 3 bedroom home with a view of the Mackinac Bridge. After working the business for 10 years, the view of the bridge from the upstairs was soon to be seen by many tourist.
In 1972 The Fort Restaurant was transformed to look like the historial fort and moved upstairs. After many visits to Las Vegas, George could see that the craze for enjoying an "ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFET", for one price was highly evolving. He took this idea and made it happen. This was the first in Northern Michigan of its kind! Thousands of people dinned at this famous buffet for many years. As for the downstairs area, a large gift shop, souvenir and candy kitchen awaited the satisfied dinners.
In the summer of 1974, Homemade Mackinaw Fudge and Brittles began being produced in the same location as it is today. Throughout the years many different candies have been tried, tasted and tested. 36 years later, Fudge, Caramel Corn, Peanut Brittle and Salt Water Taffy are still the over all favorites.
In 1987, the building was sold to Georges son Paul, who grew up in the business. Paul and Dan Russell (long time restaurant manager for George) continued with the business untill parting ways in 1994. Paul and his wife Vicki, (also a long time resturant person) continued to operate the resturant until changing it into more retail space in 1998. With the area that was once the walkin cooler they have built The Mackinaw Mining Company. Tourist of all ages can pan for gemstones in the mine shaft with running water.
Today, Paul,Vicki and their 3 sons, (Jason, Matthew and Andrew) opperated this store and another called The I - 75 Plaza, Exit 339 Southbound in Mackinaw City.