MOUNT CLEMENS (CBS Detroit) What’s the best thing about life in the Mitten State? Look around.

And while you’are at it, stop into the newest eatery in Mount Clemens: The Mitt. The Mitt is a bar, restaurant, and pizzeria that celebrates Michigan as one of the best places in the world to live, play and eat.  The Mitt was thrust into the spotlight before it opened when presidential contender Mitt Romney made a stop at the restaurant in February while campaigning in Michigan.

The restaurant isn’t affiliated with the candidate, though when he was in town he noted few people are named “Mitt.” The Mount Clemens spot is named after the Mitten-shaped state it calls home.

It all started 14 years ago when Ken and Tracy Leonard decided to return to Michigan from California to raise their children.  While exploring the option of opening a franchise restaurant, Ken Leonard noticed something he didn’t like: The food that was being served at chain restaurants came from a box in the freezer.

“There was nothing fresh, inspired, or local about it,” the family said in a press release.

Leonard realized that he could better provide customers with great tasting, affordable comfort food in a family friendly atmosphere. And The Mitt was born.

The Harrison Township residents chose a vacant downtown Mount Clemens building for their venture, citing “a love of Mount Clemens and its people, the resilience of the downtown, and being in the heart of Macomb County.”

Everything inside is Michigan-themed, from walls decorated with artwork all created by Michigan artists, murals throughout the restaurant featuring picturesque Michigan scenery and landmarks, with the most focal being the large “Mighty Mac” Mackinac Bridge, which spans nearly the entire length of one of the restaurant’s walls.

Patrons can also feel at home and enjoy appetizers or cocktails in a lounge area featuring rustic log cabin inspired furnishings that pay homage the traditional Michigan “Up North Cabin.”

Then there’s the food. Leonard jokes the freezers at The Mitt are the most underused equipment in their kitchen because everything in the restaurant is made fresh from scratch.  From the hamburger buns to salad dressings and the dessert menu, everything at The Mitt is prepared the old-fashioned way.

“If it isn’t prepared in-house, the Leonard’s bring in best locally made fresh products,” the family said. “This includes their pierogies and kielbasa, which are hand selected from well-known ethnic food purveyors in Hamtramck.”

In fact, they boast 95 percent of the ingredients they use are Michigan products, with the other 5 percent generally produce items not grown within the state.

The Leonards’ say the menu is “Michigan Comfort Food.” Locally made beverage offerings include Michigan beer, wine, and even good old Faygo pop.  Simply put, this is an establishment that celebrates all things Michigan.

Looking for a real Mitten experience? The Mitt is located at 143 North Main Street in downtown Mount Clemens. It’s open 11 a.m. seven days a week with a full restaurant and bar menu.  A grand opening celebration will be held at a later date.


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