MICHIGAN CITY – A historic downtown building is seeing new life with the grand opening of a new gastropub in the century-old spot at 4th and Franklin.

Leeds Public House recently marked its grand opening by showcasing its chef-created specialty dishes and serving up a big bottle of bubbly to toast with community members.

“We are honored to be a part of this new chapter in Michigan City’s story,” said Denise Burns, who owns the restaurant with her husband, John. “We have already felt welcome and embraced by community members who are such a vital part of our success.”

While updating the building was necessary, they also wanted to retain as much of the historic detail as possible.

“Our renovation and updates serve to embrace the past while offering a welcoming environment that includes a patio, indoor and outdoor bars and fire pit area,” said general manager Dave Roberts.

Leeds is housed in a 116-year-old building, which still spotlights the Michigan City founding family’s name as well as ignited inspiration for the restaurant’s moniker.

“Every day we walk in under the Leeds inscription, which still tops the building and was the inspiration behind our name. We are proud to help cultivate a component of Michigan City’s roots.”

The menu was created by executive chef Mark Sabbe, who is building on his base, formed at such restaurants as Marchesa and Mercat a la planxa in Chicago.

Offerings include main dishes featuring short ribs, duck, roasted garlic chicken, risotto, quiche and salmon; as well as sandwiches with smoked chicken, veggies, prime strip steak and seafood. Starters include chef’s choice of charcuterie and cheese, ginger jerk wings, crostini trio, soup and frites and there are kids dishes as well.

Sabbe said the menu is his way of elevating traditional bar fare with fresh ingredients, unique combinations and an in-house smoker that he has named “Rita.”

“I want a successful restaurant. I want people to go: ‘Have you been to Leeds? I had a great time there,’” Sabbe said.

“I want them to love the food sure, but there is more to it than that … I want them to have a great dining experience. It’s not just the food, it’s the service, the company, the drink, having all that together makes that experience.

“By and large, I want repeat customers, lines out the door and for people to love this place and want to come back.”

Roberts said beyond the unique dishes, specialty cocktails, an extensive wine list and a variety of beers puts Leeds on the map as a late-night destination.

“We have house-made barrel-aged Manhattans, 14 beers on draft, more than 25 bottles of beer and more than 75 bottles of wine to choose from,” he said.

Among the craft cocktails are Tito’s Hibiscus Lemonade, Cucumber Rose, Lavender Pisco Sour, Smoked Hibiscus Margarita and LPH Pride Mule.

Leeds is currently open from 11 a.m. to midnight Wednesday through Sunday, and will be expanding its days and hours in the future. Brunch offerings are in the works and will be available soon.

The goal is to bring "an eclectic vibe to historic downtown Michigan City with a menu that features local ingredients crafted into delicious dishes," Burns said.

For more information, visit leedspublichouse.com.

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