Writer | Candie Conat
Photo | Bad Habit
Focus On: Bad Habit
In 2021, Bonnie Brown tried a unique milkshake-style dessert during a business trip in Las Vegas. Her first thought was “Wow, these are amazing,” quickly followed by “This is the business opportunity I have been looking for.” Brown had never seen anything like this in West Michigan. She knew it would be a welcome delight along the lakeshore.
Her business partner, John Zervas, was not immediately sold on the idea but Brown knew that once he and others had the chance to experience these delectable treats, they would agree. Brown began concocting flavor combinations to share at gatherings. It didn’t take long for Zervas to see that this could be a viable business opportunity in the Grand Haven area. The search for space was slow, but they secured a spot and Bad Habit opened officially on March 6, 2022. Initial projections were to serve 50 Bad Habit shakes per day, but their expectations were greatly exceeded when the final count averaged 700 shakes per day for three days in a row.
It’s hard to refer to these desserts as “just” a milkshake. They are not an eat-in-your-car kind of snack. You most likely won’t finish with clean hands — or even a clean face. But with names like Slacker, Misfit, Cheater, Potty Mouth, Insomniac and Back Talk, it sounds like they would be more than worth the mess. Brown’s first combo was Potty Mouth, which came about by accident. She looked at a damaged cheesecake on her counter and didn’t want it to go to waste.
“I thought, those pieces of lemon cheesecake would be great blended into a shake,” Brown says.
The final result is an otherworldly combination. Vanilla ice cream, vanilla frosting, lemon drizzle and lemon creme cookies topped with a slice of cheesecake, two lemon bars and whipped cream. It was her favorite until the Insomniac came along, containing vanilla ice cream mixed with tiramisu, coffee flavoring, chocolate drizzle and whipped cream, then topped with tiramisu cake, hazelnut pirouette cookies with vanilla frosting and chocolate-covered espresso beans on the rim. Brown refers to the Insomniac as life-changing. “I don’t know anywhere that you can get a shake with a true tiramisu flavor like this,” she says.
Earlier this year, Brown and Zervas jumped at the opportunity to move Bad Habit to a popular Washington Avenue location in Grand Haven. They re-opened in February 2023 at the former Jumpin’ Java location and now feature an expanded menu which includes sweet and savory bubble waffles. These crispy-on-the-outside, soft-and-fluffy-on-the-inside treats take the form of everything from a breakfast treat with a mix of toppings to sandwiches and desserts.
The expanded menu encompasses a coffee bar with grab-and-go pastries along with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Foodie sources say the chicken wings at Bad Habit are the best you will find. Marinated up to 24 hours in a blend of Mediterranean spices, roasted — not fried — and topped with a sprinkling of feta cheese, how could they be anything but mouthwatering?
You truly must visit Bad Habit to experience this fun addition to Grand Haven’s spirited downtown shopping district.