Traverse City News and Events

Mama Lu’s Owners To Open New Downtown Restaurant

By Beth Milligan | Feb. 5, 2020

After four years running a popular taco shop on Front Street, the owners of Mama Lu’s are ready to expand their restaurant group. The Ticker has an exclusive first look at The Flying Noodle – a casual Italian eatery slated to open this spring on Front Street – plus other restaurant and retail updates from across the region.

The Flying Noodle
Following a year-long search for the right location for a second restaurant, Mama Lu’s owners Adrienne Brunette and John Larson and partners Heather Dziedzic and Dallas Dziedzic will open Italian restaurant The Flying Noodle in the former Harvest space at 136 East Front Street in April.

The new 50-seat restaurant is described as an “Italian pasta house with a warm, casual, and fun atmosphere,” according to the partners. Renovations are underway to create a new 14-seat bar area near the space’s Front Street window area, with plans to offer a full bar with a wine list, house cocktails, and selection of beers. A lounge area, mix of booth and table seating, and an open kitchen concept will round out the interior. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner, with likely hours of 11am-10pm Tuesday-Saturday.

The “approachable” menu will feature a regular selection of house-made fresh pastas and sauces – think spaghetti, fettuccine, penne, and elbow noodles with a choice of marinara, Alfredo, and pesto sauces – along with a rotation of seasonal specialty pastas, sandwiches and salads, cheesy focaccia bread, and a signature brick chicken dish. Entrée prices are expected to be in the $10-$14 range.

“We wanted to create something that people can come and enjoy on a regular weekday basis,” says Brunette. “It’s something that doesn’t exist at this price point right now.” Adds Larson: “From the get-go, we’re trying to take the white plate out of Italian dining. Our goal is to create a no-frills, family-oriented pasta restaurant.”

Brunette and Larson say they always intended to open multiple restaurants in Traverse City, starting with Mama Lu’s in 2016. The couple almost pulled the trigger on a space last year – “we were a day away from signing,” says Larson – but decided they weren’t quite ready. When the former Harvest space became available, however, they leapt on the opportunity. The close proximity between Mama Lu’s and The Flying Noodle will allow management and staff to rotate between the two spaces; both locations are also of a similar size that makes it easier to fill during slower winter months, the partners say.

Larson hints that the group could open a third restaurant in the next few years. The partners are open to expanding outside of downtown Traverse City, though they intend to stay within the region. Larson says his goal in expanding is to provide his employees a chance to develop their careers along with the growth of the restaurant group. “It’s giving them an opportunity to level up,” he says. “We want to open more restaurants so we can provide more to our community – both our external and internal guests.”

In other restaurant and retail news…
Downtown Traverse City’s Park Street Café opened a second location inside the Copper Ridge Surgical Center Monday. Owners Derek and Carolyn Weeks and Managing Partner Christine Skibowski said in a statement that the new location will be open 7am-3pm Monday-Friday, offering the same “convenience, expediency, and high-quality” food items as the original Park Street Café at 113 Park Street. “We have developed a menu that we think will fit well at the Surgical Center, but you can rest assured that it will always be changing,” the partners wrote. “We will keep the items everyone loves, but regularly introduce options seasonally and as new ideas creep in.”

Another downtown business is also expanding. Miner’s North will double its footprint at 222 East Front Street this spring, taking over the former Raven’s Child space next door to grow from 1,500 square feet to 3,100 square feet. Local firms The Inman Company and Mapleridge Construction will oversee the buildout. “The interior design will be a delicate mix of industrial and contemporary with a nod to northern Michigan,” says interior designer Shane Inman.

A new Burlington store is opening in the former MC Sports space next to the Grand Traverse Mall. Burlington’s website indicates the new retail location will open this spring, with job listings posted for a store manager, sales associates, and cashiers. The national off-price department store retailer carries a range of merchandise including coats, shoes, clothing, baby gear, and home décor. According to Burlington’s website, the Traverse City store will be the company’s only northern Michigan location; the majority of the retailer’s stores are concentrated in southeast Michigan and the Grand Rapids area.

At the nearby Grand Traverse Mall, newly opened Indian restaurant Taste of India is expanding its dine-in business to offer both lunch and dinner delivery. The eatery will deliver within a five-mile radius of the mall for a delivery charge of $5-$8, depending on distance. Lunch orders can be placed through the restaurant’s Facebook page.

In Leelanau County, Samaritans’ Closet resale shop has moved to an expanded new building on M-204 in Lake Leelanau behind Leelanau Christian Neighbors. The facility is nearly double the size of the previous location, at 3,300 square feet. The new building was made possible through the 2019 merger of Samaritans’ Closet and Leelanau Christian Neighbors. The store, open 10am-4pm Tuesday-Friday and 10am-2pm Saturday, sells clothing, furniture, bedding, household items, and other merchandise to support assistance programs for families in need.

Finally, a Traverse City institution has hit the market. The Bardon’s Wonder Freeze building on the corner of East Front Street and Garfield Avenue has been listed for $795,000 by realtor Jack Lane. The listing calls the location a “legendary, beloved corner in town where ice cream dreams (and food!) have delivered endless smiles for decades.” It continues that a “generational charge of ownership” prompted the sale, offering “a fantastic opportunity for the next operator/owner (business is being sold separately) or for a brand-new concept.” The site is 448 square feet and sits on a .19-acre lot with attached parking.

Pictured (l-r): Dallas Dziedzic, Heather Dziedzic, Adrienne Brunette, and John Larson inside the new The Flying Noodle

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