March is Women’s History Month, so it seems like the perfect time to tell you about the women who have played an instrumental role over the years at Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub in historic downtown Marshall, Michigan.
Emily (Baty) Schuler was the original matriarch of the Schuler family in Marshall. Born in 1886 in Calhoun County, Emily married Albert Schuler in 1905 in nearby Indiana. Albert had emigrated to southwest Michigan from New York where he was born in 1884. Together they ventured into the hospitality industry, first with the cigar shop and restaurant in 1909.
In 1924, they purchased the Royal Hotel and Restaurant in downtown Marshall, renaming it The Schuler. During those early years, recounts third-generation owner Hans Schuler, his grandmother helped prepare all the meals for the guests both at the hotel and restaurant—breakfast, lunch and dinner. Although Hans never knew his grandmother, he does remember hearing stories of her dedication to the family and the business, standing beside her grandfather to build a legacy which today is 107 years strong.
Jean (Gould) Schuler, as the wife of second-generation owner Win Schuler, played a pivotal role in the culture of the restaurant and its impact on the local community. Marshall’s most noted event – the Historic Home Tour (held annually, the second weekend of September), was actually Jean’s idea. The event started in 1957 as a kitchen tour and that first year, only four were featured—including the Schuler home. Today, this event has expanded into the longest, continually-operating home tour in the Great Lakes region.
The 2004 coffee table cookbook, Schuler’s: Fresh Recipes & Warm Memories, includes a heart-felt dedication written by third-generation owner Hans Schuler for his mother, Jean: “Through the years, many people have played important roles in maintaining and growing our business. Sometimes, however, the individuals ‘behind the scenes’ play an equally-essential role. One such person was my mother. In many ways, she was the glue that held our family together and the strength behind my father. She gave him the love and support he needed and helped him in every way as he built our family’s reputation and expanded the restaurant.”
Nancy Schuler, wife of Hans Schuler, is active in many areas of today’s Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub. After moving from Bloomfield Hills to Marshall, she took her years of experience in the medical and health care field and began incorporating key principles into the operation of the restaurant. More attention was placed on locally-sourced foods, which played well in the made-from-scratch restaurant. Nancy also took the lead in many areas of marketing, by writing and editing articles focused on the family business.
In 2010, when Calhoun County experienced the worst oil spill in U.S. history, Nancy was a leader in helping to feed crews as they worked months on end to clean up the Kalamazoo River. She helped organize the staff and the delivery of three meals a day to the site, often making runs with snacks and coffee in the middle of the night.
Nancy is active in the local community as well, working with various non-profits on fundraisers and other projects—including serving on the board of the Battle Creek / Calhoun County Visitors Bureau.
Today, the management team at Schuler’s is made up of some very talented and dedicated women, focused on taking this restaurant into the next generation and building on a long-standing tradition of hospitality.
Sue Damron serves as President and Managing Partner for Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub. She joined Schuler’s in November of 1998 as Executive Assistant to the Chairman and since 2010 had served as the restaurant’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. She has literally learned about every aspect of the Schuler’s Restaurant business, from the front of the house to the kitchen to the executive offices, learning from her mentor—Hans Schuler. Sue says she still learns something new every day in her work with Schuler’s and enjoys the opportunity to meet new people which add to the overall story of this family-run business.
A life-long resident of the area, Sue studied business and accounting at Kellogg Community College and Olivet College. She is very involved in the community and is focused on the importance of tourism to the local economy. She serves as chair of the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance, sits on both the Downtown Development Authority and the Local Downtown Finance Authority boards, and is past chair of the Marshall Main Street Board. This year, she will also take a seat on the board of the Michigan Restaurant Association.
Susie DeBack has also made her way up the ranks at Schuler’s – working as a server, and as part of the banquet and catering staff. She now holds the title of Sales and Marketing Manager, where she works with both on- and off-premise events, banquets, weddings, corporate meetings and the like. Susie is well-known for her extensive knowledge of the hospitality industry and her attention to detail when working with guests is unparalleled. Her strong sense of the true meaning of hospitality comes through in every event she’s involved with. “Susie does all the worrying for the guests, so they can enjoy their event.”
Elizabeth Damron essentially grew up at Schuler’s, joining the team official when she was a high school student. Today, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Management from Western Michigan University. Over the years, she’s been a busser, hostess, bartender, server, manager-in-training (and even the Easter Bunny) before accepting her current position as Winston’s Pub Manager. Elizabeth comes by her love of the hospitality industry through the inspiration of her mother, Sue Damron, who she has watched move up the ranks in Michigan’s most noted family-owned, multi-generational restaurant.
Annette Andrews, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting from Western Michigan University, began her career with Schuler’s as a part time bookkeeper. Shortly thereafter, she took on the full-time role as Executive Assistant. In February 2015, she accepted her current position as Accounting and Human Resource Director. Annette believes in the Schuler’s corporate philosophy that the restaurant is more than a name; it is many things to many people. She takes great pleasure in providing this to each and every guest. Annette. In her spare time Annette serves as a Trustee on the Olivet Congregational Church Board and is also a member of their choir.
Donna Barlond joined the Schuler’s team in 1994 and has served in a variety of capacities including working in the dining room—eventually becoming a Server Captain. She has been a Banquet Coordinator and is now the Dining Room Manager, often serving as a motherly figure to the service team—offering support, encouragement and guidance when necessary. Calling herself a proverbial open book, she relishes engaging the diverse mix of people who come through Schuler’s door each day. Donna is also known as the historian of the Schuler team. She’s quick to recount stories of past guests, special events and key moments in the restaurant’s history.
Founded in 1909, the iconic Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub epitomizes hospitality excellence as a family- owned and -operated business. It is recognized as world-class dining destination, focused on offering guests quality food and excellent service, in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.