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Mike Bunting.JPG

File photo/The Herald-Dispatch In a 1980 photo, Michael Bunting, owner-operator of Michael’s Restaurant, is shown preparing one of the tableside dishes featured at his fancy new restaurant. One of the restaurant’s 33 employees, Jack Irwin, looks on.

Editor’s Note: This is the 364th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.

UNTINGTON — Interviewed by The Herald-Dispatch shortly after the 1980 opening of Michael’s, his fancy new restaurant, chef Michael Bunting described it as a place for people “who take a meal seriously.”

“People come to enjoy the food for the food’s sake,” Bunting said, adding that it wasn’t unusual for diners to linger for hours over their meal.

Michael’s was located at 1045 4th Ave., in a building that once housed the J.L. Cook Hardware Co. An extensive remodeling erased any trace of the former hardware store. The menu featured French-American cuisine. Unlike other area restaurants, Michael’s featured table-side cooking, in which the chef prepared many of the dishes right at the table. The restaurant’s flaming desserts were enormously popular.

At a time when many other restaurants were offering band music, Michael’s opted instead for a pianist who quietly performed light classical pieces and show tunes from 6 to 11 p.m. each evening.

Bunting’s background in gourmet cooking began when he attended the two-year program at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, N.Y. Before opening his restaurant, he was the executive chef at the Guyan Golf & Country Club for two years and was program coordinator for food service management at Marshall University. During that time, he also started a catering business, Gourmet Catering Inc.

Though it’s long gone, Bunting’s restaurant is well remembered by many who enjoyed dining there. After it closed, Glenn’s Sporting Goods and radio station The Dawg, both located in the Coal Exchange Building next door, expanded into the restaurant’s former space.

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