The Garfield Inn in Port Austin opens a new restaurant

With many Port Austin establishments undergoing management changes or changing to something new, the Garfield Inn is the latest to change.

A new restaurant called Catbird is in the works for the ground floor of the historic Port Austin building, its owner having extensive restaurant experience.

Originally from Philadelphia, Mindy Lopus attended the Culinary Institute of America and owned two restaurants in Birmingham, Michigan – Lulu and Bella Piatti – and one in Grosse Pointe Park, before selling them 10 years ago. She has also worked as a consultant for Detroit restaurant Shewolf and Frankenmuth Prost restaurant.

Lopus’ husband came to Port Austin for years, having owned a cabin in the area and brought his children to the area as they grew up. After their marriage, Lopus sold his restaurants and the couple were ready to buy a lakeside property. They decided to tour the entire state before settling on Port Austin, where they built a home five years ago. The couple plan to retire in the area, with Lopus deciding she wanted to work at another restaurant.

“I grew up on the east coast so I was used to it, if you want to go to the beach it’s a two hour drive away,” Lopus said. “If you want to go to the Poconos in the mountains, it’s a two hour drive. So we really wanted to stay somewhere nearby so we could be here as much as possible.

The Garfield Inn, also known as the Charles G. Learned House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, operated as a bed and breakfast until last season. A real restaurant hasn’t been in the building for at least 10 years.

It is now owned by Todd Murawski, the owner of Bird Creek Farms and current Port Austin Village President, who contacted Lopus to take over the space. She will rent the space from Murawski. With the exception of a bride whose booking was delayed from last year, the guest rooms will not be used this year due to renovations, but it is hoped they will reopen next year next.

The name Catbird comes from when Lopus first visited friends in Port Austin and checked out the Garfield Inn. She pointed out how this building sat on a hill, in the Port Austin catbird seat, where it overlooks the community.

“It was just kind of like a fun name for something not so traditional,” Lopus said.

The planned food for Catbird would take advantage of local produce and organic meat from the region, with Lopus saying it would be American with a little Mediterranean flair. There will be fish, chicken, pork and steak recipes, with homemade pasta as well as brunch options.

Interior work has been underway for three weeks, with the aim of having everything ready by early June. This includes revamping the bar, cleaning the kitchen and adding amenities, updating the bathrooms and stripping the wallpaper to help freshen up the place.

“The decor will be kind of modern Victorian versus traditional Victorian, so it will have softer edges and won’t be as ornate,” Lopus said.

As Lopus plans to open in time for tourists to arrive in Port Austin, she is aware that the Garfield Inn has many memories for Port Austin residents and wants to honor them.

The Port Austin community is already embracing the new restaurant ahead of its opening, with Lopus saying that when she first posted about it on Facebook, she believes she received more likes or comments than any other post she had made. .

“I’m really excited to be part of the community and contribute to any kind of growth that I can, and to be a good neighbor,” Lopus said.

About James Almanza

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