A street-savvy businessman, Victor Callewaert, is the patriarch of the Callewaert family. Beginning as a business partner with his father-in-law, Harry Ryba, and brother-in-law James, Victor played a pivotal role in restoring Island House Hotel to make it the shining Mackinac Island landmark that it is today. Victor began his dynasty in a popcorn and confectionery store in Detroit with Harry Ryba in 1951. By 1956 they had entered the fudge business, calling their product that we know and love still today as Ryba's Mackinac Island Fudge. Victor and his partners saved the once-abandoned Island House Hotel from demolition in 1969. As General Manager of Island House Hotel, Victor played a crucial role in restoring and preserving the Island House Hotel. While his son Todd has stepped into many of Victor's earlier responsibilities, Victor remains at the helm of the Callewaert family businesses. Outside of work, it is not unusual to find him dining with family in the 1852 Grill Room or visiting with friends at Mary’s Bistro Draught House. Victor married his high school sweetheart, the late Rena Ryba, and they had five children together, Todd, Ann, Mary, Gregg, and Amy.
Mary, Victor's oldest daughter, can be found overseeing the Callewaert family businesses' downtown operations. From housekeeper to dining room manager to bike shop attendant to a server, Mary has done it all. Mary's passion is food and wine, along with the preservation of Mackinac Island's natural beauty. She is a driven businesswoman and spends most of her time overseeing Mary's Bistro Draught House's operations.
A guest service-driven leader, Todd Callewaert, is the CEO of the Callewaert family business operations. He has a lifetime of experience in the service industry in various responsibilities, working as a dishwasher, busser, server, and later continuing the family tradition as a master fudge maker at Ryba's Fudge Shops. In the late 1980s, with the knowledge he had gained from his many roles over the years, he moved to hotel administration and began working beside his father, Victor. Proud alumni of Central Michigan University, Todd has held leadership roles with the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau, Mackinac Associates and is currently serving as a Moderator for Little Stone Church. He is active in the Island House Hotel's day-to-day operations during the May to October season and is visible to employees and guests alike. Todd enjoys working beside his wife Jennifer and sons, William and Andrew, throughout the family businesses.
Ann Parrish, Victor's youngest daughter, works behind the scenes as the Controller for the Callewaert family businesses. Before graduating from the University of Michigan, Ann held a variety of jobs in the company, including server, sales associate, reservations manager, and front office manager. Ann has had the pleasure of serving as a trustee on the board of Mackinac Associates. She is happily married to her longtime love, Les Parrish, who oversees Ryba's Fudge Shops' confectionery production. They have two children together, Riley and Lilly, who both spend their summers working in the family business.
The youngest child of Victor and Rena (Ryba) Callewaert, Gregg began contributing to the family businesses at nine-years-old washing dishes at the Pancake House. He also worked as a busboy and bellman before becoming Mackinac Island's youngest fudge maker at 13. After finishing law school, he moved with his wife Angel to Chicago to help Ryba's Fudge expand operations there. Gregg and Angel welcomed two children, Alexandra and Maxwell, into the world while living in the Windy City and stayed there until 2014. Today both children work alongside their mother and father during summer break and wish to join the company after college.
Island House Hotel General Manager, Alan Sehoyan, grew up in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. Alan discovered his love for hospitality working in his family’s salon and spa growing up. His adventurous spirit led him to the Peace Corps as a young man, helping to build an eco-tourism lodge in Papua New Guinea. Later in life, Alan embarked on a new journey with his wife and two children, bringing them to Mackinac Island after working as General Manager at Bay Harbor Resort and Marina. The Island House has been an ideal match for Alan, as historic conservation is a passion of his, compelling him to become a board member of the Historic District Council. He has innovated many areas and utilizes his eye for design and construction knowledge, heading up preservation efforts in the offseason.
Since 2013, Executive Chef Phil Kromer has been handcrafting signature dishes in our prized dining room, the 1852 Grill Room. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America of Hyde Park, New York, he has a passion for how food affects people. Chef Phil has worked in a diverse range of restaurant atmospheres, such as fine dining, breweries, barbecue joints, large resorts, and finally, the small-town breakfast restaurant where he fell in love with the kitchen. From May through October, he arrives early each morning to prepare breakfast, and in the evening, he checks each dinner entree as they leave the kitchen, ensuring that they are consistently perfect. His attention to detail has gained him the respect of many coworkers, locals, and guests. Chef Phil met his wife, Megan, while working at Hotel Iroquois in the early 1990s. Married in 2000, they have two boys together, and they reside on Mackinac Island year-round.
Les Parrish is the chief confectioner at Ryba’s Fudge. He grew up in East Lansing, spending summers in northern Michigan and working on Mackinac Island. After meeting his wife, he joined the family business and learned how to make fudge. He now oversees all of the candy production for Ryba’s Fudge Shops.