Deb Malewski
Contributing Writer

If you’re looking for great food and a place you can bring the whole family, the Lamplighter OC Bar and Grill is in Olivet is the place you are looking for. The extensive menu offers a bit of everything from burgers and pizza to salads to grinders to tacos. The seating is properly spaced, and the chairs are comfortable. They offer a great place to watch the game on the many televisions placed throughout their establishment.
John Thompson owns the sports bar and restaurant that is conveniently located right across the street from Olivet College. Thompson bought the business two years ago from Tom Kolassa, a 1969 Olivet alumnus, after working as manager of the Lamplighter for nine years. “It’s great for the kids to have someplace to go,” Thompson explained. “And so close to campus.”
The theme of Olivet College is everywhere in the restaurant, with items belonging to Kolassa prominently displayed on the wall. 70% of their customers are local people, while 30% or so are Olivet students, Thompson said. The restaurant was planned with a student budget in mind, with reasonable prices and giving a lot of value for your dollar.
With just over 1,000 students attending Olivet, and 1,600 residents in town, it’s sometimes a “challenge” to run a restaurant, and COVID-19 has recently added an additional challenge. However, Thompson says the family-friendly restaurant is doing very well this year. Like most businesses, the Lamplighter has struggled with staffing issues recently, being short at times.
“But we’ve got a great staff and they really take care of things,” Thompson said.
Burgers are big at Lamplighter. You can build your own, order an olive burger, a comet burger, a mushroom, bacon, and cheeseburger, or a bacon cheeseburger. All are served with fries, coleslaw, or pasta salad. All are delicious.
Or maybe you’re feeling a bit fishy? The walleye basket and the walleye sandwich are very popular, and feature lightly breaded fried fish, fries and slaw.
Pizza is always a bit hit at the Lamplighter. They even allow you to be the chef and put together all the toppings you like best for the “You are the Chef” pizza. They also honor team pride with Eagle Pride and Comet Pride pizzas.
If you need a starter, or maybe just want to make a meal of appetizers, there are some great options. The beer-battered onion rings are extremely popular, along with the jalapeno cream cheese poppers. Also on the menu are beer-battered mushrooms, pretzel bites, hot pepper cheese balls, cheese bread, and nachos.
If you’re looking for some lighter meal options, the sandwiches, grinders, and wraps at the Lamplighter are served with fries, coleslaw or pasta salad. The Big Italy Grinder will have you saying “deliziosa.” Grinders are served half or whole. The turkey Rueben is a lighter take on a classic sandwich and is served on rye bread.
Thompson is looking forward to being able to open the patio for dining as the weather gets warmer. “We will be making wood-fired pizzas to have with your favorite cocktail or other beverages, and will serve you outdoors,” he said. “Last summer the patio got more use than it ever has, and we expect this year to be the same.”
The Lamplighter has a large selection of beer and wine, with the perfect drink to pair with any meal.
The Lamplighter is located at 714 South Main in Olivet.
Call them at 269-749-1294, or visit their Facebook page #lamplighter.oc.1.