The long-awaited Leeds Public House will open at the end of the month at a prime, highly visible spot at the northern end of Franklin Street in downtown Michigan City.
After extensive renovations, the gastropub plans to open on July 31 at the site of the former Ryan's Irish Pub at 401 Franklin St. It's named after an early pioneer family in the lakefront city in LaPorte County.
“We really want to respect and pay homage to Michigan City and its history,” owner Denise Burns said. “Leeds is stamped on the building at the top and when we found out they were a founding family … the name was a natural fit.”
Denise and her husband John have been renovating the prominent restaurant space, which Ryan's Irish Pub occupied for 23 years before it closed in spring of last year.
“There has been much thought and careful planning in building this restaurant,” Burns said. “We have taken care to respect the integrity of the building and the historic district of Michigan City. We hope to feature what is beautiful about the city, including works from local artists and photos of the city and lakefront. John and I have strong historical connections here. John grew up vacationing with family right in Long Beach. Amy and I are sisters and we spent a lot of time in the Michigan/Indiana area as children and continue to think of it as our home away from home. We hope to feature what is beautiful about the city, including works from local artists and photos of the city and lakefront. We would like to become as integrated in the community as possible.”
Initially opening for dinner hours, Leeds Public House will have an outdoor bar and a large patio with fire pits. It will offer upscale pub food that's locally sourced and eventually expand its hours to include a brunch menu that will feature mimosa flights and "interesting bloodies."
“Our cocktails will be a mix of classic recipes and bartender-inspired recipes,” manager Amy Laria said. “Our house-made food will use locally sourced products. It’s important to us to use local farms for everything when possible — from produce to dairy to meat.”
Leeds hired Mishawaka native Mark Sabbe, who has cooked at Marchesa and Mercat a la planxa in Chicago, as executive chef.
“My entire professional cooking career has been in Chicago,” Sabbe said. “It’s a different world than here. We want to bring in upscale pub food. That’s why we call it a gastropub. We want to use the same sort of comfort food-esque dishes but notch them up a little.”
The restaurant is yet another attraction to a city with beaches, a casino and an outlet mall, said Clarence Hulse, executive director of the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City.
“It’s a great investment for the city and will attract a lot of new people. These are exciting times,” he said. “It’s wonderful how the restaurant is celebrating our history and our past as well as moving us forward.”