True story. In the mid-1980s, I lived in the Village of Pinckney. One night, I got hungry for a pizza, so I called the downtown pizza place and ordered a medium with pepperoni.
PIZZA GUY: “OK, it’ll be ready in 20 minutes.”
ME: “Don’t you want my address?”
PIZZA GUY: “Why would I want your address?”
ME: “So you’ll know where to deliver it.”
PIZZA GUY: “Oh, you think we DELIVER? Ha ha ha ha! Nobody in Pinckney delivers pizza! Ha ha ha ha! Where do you think you are?”
Yes, that was the state of things in Pinckney some 30 years ago. The town was so small that you couldn’t even get a pizza delivered. Fast-forward to 2016, and we not only have SEVERAL pizza places that deliver, but we ALSO have a McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell!
Which means there’s a whole lot more to love about Pinckney these days. So, in that spirit, here’s my list of 10 things I love about Pinckney, and 5 things I don’t. (As a disclaimer, some of the things I love and don’t love are technically in Hamburg, but for the purposes of this piece, we’re lumping Pinckney and Hamburg in together.)
10 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT PINCKNEY
1. Biking on the Lakelands Trail
My family and I have biked all over Michigan, and the Lakelands Trail is still one of my favorite places. Why do I love thee? Let me count the ways: 1. It’s flat, so it’s easy to bike; 2. You can stop for ice cream at Cap’n Frosty and food at Zukey Lake Tavern along the way; 3. They paved it all the way to Pinckney; 4. It’s flat, so it’s easy to bike; 5. It’s flat, so it’s easy to bike.
2. The dining room at the Pinckney McDonald’s
With all the posters and memorabilia, it’s like a movie museum in there. Find me a fast-food place anywhere in Michigan that has a cooler dining room.
3. The Chain of Lakes
Summertime in the Pinckney area is heavenly if you live on the Chain of Lakes – or if you have a friend with a boat on the Chain of Lakes. Floating parties on the sandbars, skiing and tubing, eating at Zukey Lake Tavern. Heavenly.
4. Light of the World Academy
I have some personal bias, since my wife is the school director and my daughter goes to school here. But this school is cool nonetheless. The K-6 charter school is the only school anywhere in the area that offers a FREE Montessori education, and it’s located in the old St. Mary’s School building in the village. The Light of the World Academy preschool, meanwhile, is located at Shalom Lutheran Church, which is a highly cool place itself.
5. Summer nights at Zukey Lake Tavern
If it’s not too hot, and if the mosquitoes aren’t too bad, there’s nothing better than a summer night eating outside at Zukey’s. Their outdoor dining spot is on the roof, which gives you a beautiful view of the lake.
6. The Dio
How many small towns in Michigan have a professional dinner-theater place like THIS? Credit Steve DeBruyne, Matthew Tomich and the Dio people for bringing culture and dollars to the community.
7. St. Patrick’s Day
In terms of parades and celebrations, all the good holidays had been taken by the other communities in Livingston County. Howell owned Thanksgiving weekend with the Fantasy of Lights. Fourth of July belonged to Brighton, Fowlerville, Cohoctah and Gregory. Hartland owned Memorial Day. So Pinckney saw an opening a few years back and snapped up St. Patrick’s Day. It’s now the biggest day of the year in Pinckney, with a 5K run in the morning and the parade in the afternoon.
8. La Vita Bistro
People who visit Pinckney can’t believe we have such a high-class Italian restaurant in town. If you haven’t been there yet, it’s worth a trip to Pinckney just for this. The food and wine are outstanding, and I especially love sitting by the outdoor fireplace on a cool fall night.
9. A downtown hardware store
There’s just something that’s small-towny cool about having a hardware store you can walk to. Pinckney Hardware is the best, and they’ve got everything you’ll ever need. Love this place.
10. No department stores
Of the five major communities in Livingston County, Pinckney is still the only one that doesn’t have a big department store. And I like that. There was a rumor a few years back that Meijer wanted to build a store on M-36, but nothing ever came of it. Since Pinckney is also the only Livingston County community that doesn’t sit along a major highway, I doubt we’ll ever see a big department store here.
5 THINGS I DON’T LOVE ABOUT PINCKNEY
1. The drug paraphernalia at the BP gas station
This is shameful. Pinckney has been wrestling with a well-known drug problem and drug reputation at its high school, so what do we have less than a mile from the school? A gas station with the biggest selection of drug paraphernalia you’ve ever seen. Great. Just great. It’s the BP gas station at the corner of M-36 and Dexter-Pinckney Road, and the minute you walk in the door, you see a display case filled with pipes and bongs and God knows what else. Shame on the owners of this place. I never stop there anymore, and I urge you to do the same.
2. Empty schools
I know they’ll be filled with something eventually, but it’s still depressing to see Pinckney Elementary and Hamburg Elementary sitting vacant and desolate after all these years.
3. Making a left turn from Farley Road onto M-36
Traffic is always bad on M-36, but for some reason, it’s especially bad when you’re trying to make a left turn from Farley Road. I wouldn’t mind seeing a light there.
4. No downtown grocery store
Pinckney’s two-block downtown has almost everything a small-town downtown should have: restaurants, a bakery, barber shops, a hardware store, a library. The only thing missing is a grocery store. How cool would that be?
5. Too many names for the main roads
In Pinckney itself, there are really only two main roads: M-36 and D-19. The only problem is that each of those roads has a zillion other names. M-36 is also East Main Street and West Main Street, while D-19 is also known as Pearl Street, Pinckney Road, Howell-Pinckney Road and anything else you can think of. Too confusing! Pick a name and stick with it!
So, what do YOU love and not love about Pinckney?