The Mitten Bar, a state of mind

March 20, 2013
Megan and Brian at The Mitten

Megan and Brian at The Mitten

By THAD RAY

MCP Correspondent

LUDINGTON — The Mitten Bar is the new kid on the block when it comes to the bar scene in Ludington. It’s also one of the hottest beer bars in the world according to Draft Magazine, both in 2012, and 2013.

Co-Owners Megan Payment and Brian Josefowicz have turned a passion for craft beer and a love for all things Michigan into a unique destination for those seeking to travel a bit off the beaten path.

The Mitten sells only Michigan made products. It has 12 taps and a beer engine, through which flow an ever changing selection of Michigan beers, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 different bottled beers. In addition to beer, it sells wine, liquor, and soda, and a variety of snacks made here in The Great Lake State.

According to Megan, the idea for the bar came together rather quickly. Inspired by the Michigan shaped flight tray (A flight is a sample of several different varieties of beer) at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, and their enjoyment of Michigan beers and breweries, the couple decided to focus their efforts on Michigan made products and bring their love of micro brewed beer, and the atmosphere of the breweries and beer bars they had visited, back to Ludington.

With craft beer being more of an acquired taste, I asked Megan and Brian if they were initially concerned about opening a beer bar in Ludington. The couple agreed they both felt it was a great opportunity to fill an empty niche in the area, and they were right.

In a town that’s notorious for its seasonal fluctuation, Brian said, The Mitten’s year round success to creating an atmosphere that was appealing to locals as well as tourists, and to their continued focus on customer service. They’re always looking for ways to improve on the personality of the bar, and consider it a continually evolving project.

Another of The Mitten’s attractions is its eclectic selection of live music. With the help of booking agent Mark Sturr, the Mitten showcases some of the best bands Michigan has to offer. From Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys, to The Northern Skies, The Mitten draws the best of the best when it comes to homegrown music. It also has a regular Open Mic night that allows patrons to get up and rock the house for a few songs.

Keeping in line with its homegrown ethos, The Mitten has a mug club. For a yearly fee, mug club members are gifted with a hand crafted mug much bigger than the regular serving glasses, but which costs the same to fill. There’s a weekly mug club night, when members enjoy $2 off of every pour. In addition, there’s a monthly mug club dinner (Shrimp and Prime Rib to name a couple), that makes the yearly fee a bargain if you enjoy good beer, good food, and good company.

In addition to Draft Magazine, The Mitten Bar has been featured in Food and Wine Magazine’s top 15 beer bars in America, and Market Watch (The  Wall Street Journal) is currently doing an article on them. They were featured on The BBC’s Travel,  as well as on PBS’s Under The Radar. The Michigan Beer Film filmed a segment at The Mitten too.

Megan and Brian said The Mitten will have outdoor seating this year, as well as a full schedule of great bands, and of course a serious amount of festivities. They also said their plans for this year include opening up a whole new bar in the building to the east of The Mitten, formerly the home of the Purple Monkey Kids Boutique, which has moved down the avenue. Megan said the new bar will have a whole different theme than The Mitten. They are in the process of purchasing that building.

The Mitten Bar is a labor of love. It’s apparent from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave. Megan, Brian and the staff really care about their customers and their community. Their attention to detail, their effort to provide the best of everything possible, from beer, to atmosphere, to music, as well as the intimacy with which they talk about The Mitten, makes me believe that while The Mitten may be the new kid on the block for now, it’s not going any where for a very long time.

 

 

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