Our Story

In the 1950s, as economic opportunities began to dwindle in their mountain home, Chef Millar’s family migrated from Eastern Tennessee to Detroit, searching for a better life. Matt spent his childhood in the kitchen with his Nana, pictured in the middle above, with her sisters, and learned how to cook.

Amy & Matt

Amy and Matt Millar, owners of The Southerner in Saugatuck, Michigan
Aileen, a server at The Southerner


Our recipes have been passed down through generations of Matt’s family, and we strive to preserve these traditions for the future. Matt has taken on the responsibility of carrying on this legacy at The Southerner alongside his partner in life and business, Amy.

Amy and Matt are deeply committed to their fantastic team at The Southerner, the outstanding farmers and suppliers they partner with, their AMAZING customers, the community they live and work in, and, of course, their dogs, Iggy and Hugo.

A Different Model

The restaurant industry can be brutal. Long hours, low pay, weekends, holiday work schedules, no benefits, etc. It’s a tough business, and you have to love it to stay.

We offer a different model, one that places our team’s well-being (both physical and mental) at the forefront. We pay our team a living wage, offer health insurance with company contributions, paid time off, parental leave, retirement benefits with a company match, and continued training/professional development compensation.

When people are treated with respect and paid a living wage, they are healthier and happier. This equates to a better environment for all of us. And it allows people who love this industry to make a career out of it and live well.

We are deeply committed to diversity, equity, and fairness and aim to provide an outstanding experience for our team and our beautiful, loyal customers to whom we owe everything.

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