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New restaurant honors history with a fresh look, feel

By: Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, Indiana Last Updated: July 24, 2019

Michigan City | Leeds Public House is putting history front and center as the new restaurant honors the early pioneer family.

“We really want to respect and pay homage to Michigan City and its history,” said Denise Burns, who owns the restaurant with her husband, John. “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.”

The spot, at 401 Franklin St., will begin serving up dinner daily beginning July 31, which will feature a unique menu tied to local ingredients. Mishawaka native Mark Sabbe is Leeds executive chef and is bringing his background at Marchesa and Mercat a la planxa back to Indiana.

“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.”

“Our house-made food will use locally sourced products,” added Amy Laria, Leeds manager and owner of Flo Café & Bar in Chicago. “It’s important to us to use local farms for everything when possible – from produce to dairy to meat.”

The team, which also includes General Manager Dave Roberts previously of Winberries in Oak Park, Ill., will be adding more hours down the road and brunch offerings, including mimosa flights and interesting bloodies.  

“Our cocktails will be a mix of classic recipes and bartender-inspired recipes,” Laria said.

The long-standing building has gone through many transformations, housing a bank early on and Ryan’s Irish Pub up until spring 2018. The space has been remodeled to showcase a sense of comfort along with the latest in technology and restaurant environmental standards, while embracing the past.

“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 have an outdoor bar and large patio with fire pits for everyone to enjoy,” Laria added. “This is a family-run business, so it’s important to us that it has that feel and look.”

Family and history are not only intertwined in the building, but also for the new owners.

“John and I have strong historical connections here. John grew up vacationing with family right in Long Beach,” Burns said. “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.”

Clarence Hulse, executive director of the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, appreciates how the restaurant is a nod to the past while being a step into the future.

“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.”

For more information, visit leedspublichouse.com.

Leeds 1: Leeds Public House Executive Chef Mark Sabbe will be putting together dishes with items smoked in the on-site smoker that he has dubbed, “Rita.”

Leeds 4: Leeds Public House Executive Chef Mark Sabbe infuses Mediterranean and Spanish influences into his dishes. In the background, region artist Ismael Muhammad “Ish” Nieves has left his mark at Leeds.