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Shops, Stops and More: A guide through downtown Mount Pleasant


From Pisanello's Pizza to Rubbles' entertainment, here's your guide through downtown Mount Pleasant


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The city of Mount Pleasant is seen from the tenth floor of the City Housing Commission Nov. 19 in downtown.

Looking from the painted intersection of Broadway and Main streets in downtown Mount Pleasant, there’s a historical theater, an art store and a comic shop on Broadway. On Main Street, there’s a hot yoga studio, a smoke shop and a bar that’s a staple to its community.

It’s the business owners that truly make Downtown Mount Pleasant the heartbeat of the community, said Michelle Sponseller, downtown development director.

“(Business owners) chose to make downtown their home,” Sponseller said. “They are uniquely invested in the community. When people need fundraisers or think about community events, the place they are held is downtown.”

In the wintertime, sheets of lights illuminate the buildings along Broadway while the annual Christmas parade weaves its way downtown. Stores across the hub of town also have their own events and sales during the holiday season.

From food, to shopping, to entertainment, there’s a variety of places to try. Here is a guide to highlight some of the businesses and events downtown offers to those who want to explore.

A light on the street sign at the corner of Main and Broadway glows while cars pass through the intersection Nov. 19 in downtown Mount Pleasant.

New Additions

Over the past year, there have been several changes and additions to the downtown area – from businesses moving downtown to new local businesses getting their starts.

Michael Shuler has single-handedly kept the comic market alive in Mount Pleasant for the last 15 years. 

Shepherd resident James Travis looks through comic books Nov. 20 at Hall of Heroes.

His store, Hall of Heroes has traveled to four different properties over its years of business in Mount Pleasant and recently returned to its original location in downtown. Shuler hopes the move is permanent.

Locals like brother and sister Charles and Barb Molson visit Hall of Heroes every week to replenish their supply of graphic novels.

“We’ve been in Mount Pleasant since 1972 when we used to be known as pheasant country,” Barb Molson said. “We like coming here for some statues, collectibles. Usually, we get DC and a few Marvel. You’ve got everything here.”

In the new property, located at 201 E. Broadway St., Shuler hopes to diversify his customer base and sell to both Mount Pleasant residents and Central Michigan University students.

Consano is the only registered medical marijuana retailer in the city open for business. General manager Caleb Carey said it opened in July of this year. Some of the products they offer include CBD solutions, edibles and waxes. 

Mount Pleasant recently passed a city ordinance allowing three recreational retailers in the city. Carey said he plans on applying for one of the licenses to sell marijuana to use recreationally.

Coming off the cusp of its explosive opening in September, Vin Trofeo’s has modernized pizza in Mount Pleasant. Vin Trofeo’s is owned by three childhood friends, William Baird, Tim Chaffin and Neal Shepler. While some may view Vin Trofeo’s as another pizza joint, Baird sees it as a comfortable restaurant and bar. 

“There’s an atmosphere here that’s different than those other places,” Biard said. “It’s just a nice, clean place you can come to and relax.”

Vin Trofeo’s carries gluten-free doughs, cauliflower crusts, vegetarian and vegan options to fit most dietary restrictions.

Bars & Restaurants

The lively, downtown bar scene has many choices for a night in the city. A variety of bars call downtown their home, including Mountain Town Station, Midori, Blue Gator and Blackstone. Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Joseph said his favorite bars downtown are Rubbles, Marty's and the Bird Bar & Grill .

The Bird has been a staple in downtown Mount Pleasant since 1933, Sponseller said. While it has changed locations and names in the past, the bar has always been passed down through the same family.

A group of people smoke Nov. 15 outside the Bird Bar and Grill.

The Bird is currently owned by Louis Breidenstein, and one of her daughters, Allison Curtis, is a daytime manager for the bar. Curtis said the fact that the Bird is family-owned sets itself apart from other bars downtown.

While it’s certainly known for being a bar, the Bird also has many menu items beloved by locals. 

“You haven’t lived until you’ve had a Bird burger,” Sponseller said.

Curtis described the bar as a meeting place where people from all parts of Mount Pleasant come to hang out.

“We have professors, students and townies,” Curtis said. “Anybody who's in Mount Pleasant can come into the Bird.”

On the corner of Franklin and Broadway Street, Stan’s might be Mount Pleasant’s favorite breakfast spot, Joseph said.

“People who don’t even know what Mount Pleasant is know about Stan’s,” Joseph said. 

Sponseller said Stan’s is great for a Saturday morning breakfast because one meal will feed you for an entire day due to the large portions. 

To contrast the modernization of Vin Trofeo’s, Pisanello’s has been serving savory pizza pies in downtown Mount Pleasant for over 50 years. The restaurant is one of 19 locations that mostly dot Southwest Michigan and Northern Ohio. 

Courtney Kirchen rolls out pizza dough Nov. 18 at Pisanello's Pizza

Regardless of its chain status, Pisanello’s has been around long enough to become a local favorite. Some locals have been eating Pisanello’s since it opened in 1969. Now they’re bringing their children and grandchildren, general manager Lonnie DeRosia said.

“We do get some college students in here, but it's usually kids who have grown up in Mount Pleasant who know about Pisanello’s,” DeRosia said. “In that way we’re still kind of a hidden gem.”

Max & Emily’s is a sandwich shop downtown that Sponseller said is amazing. There are more than 100 sandwich options to choose from, or a make-your-own option if nothing catches your eye.

But, if someone is looking to re-energize themselves in the morning, then downtown has plenty of caffeine bars to help with that. 

Coffee

Both Ponder Coffee Company and Pleasant City Coffee diverge from the corporate stores on campus and offer a local take on liquid energy. Both are conveniently located on Broadway Street.

 A painted sign is seen through the trees lining Broadway Street Nov. 19 in downtown Mount Pleasant. 

Ponder is the brainchild of local Mount Pleasant couple Christie and Aaron Cromar. Students may be more familiar with its sister branch located at 1027 S. Franklin St. 

Registered student organizations use Ponder to hold meetings or events, and many student musicians have debuted their skills in the shops, Cromar said.

“I think the local coffee scene is lacking in Mount Pleasant,” Cromar said. “So, what we do is roast our own coffee, so we’re in control of quality from start to end.”

Further down the road, the Pleasant City's sign looks like it was hand-painted, similar to how every cup of coffee is made with care. Owner Joshua Agardy said those who try Pleasant City usually turn into dedicated regulars.

“We have a great atmosphere to study, for meet and greets and it’s just a nice place to unwind from the outside world,” Agardy said. “You open my doors; the place is yours.”

Mayor Will Joseph discusses why he has chosen to remain in Mount Pleasant after graduating Nov. 17 in front of a mural on Franklin Street.

Entertainment

Both Sponseller and Joseph said the place to see live music in downtown is Rubbles. A variety of bands play at the 30-year-old bar.

Booking agent for Rubbles Melissa Gross said the bar has live music every weekend, acoustic nights on Mondays and Tuesdays and karaoke nights on Thursdays. She said the live music sets it apart from all the other bars downtown.

The bar hosts a variety of music like rock, metal and country. One of the most popular acts is local metal band Nagazi, who will be playing a show at Rubbles on Nov. 27 with the reuniting band, Workhorse. Gross said all shows at Rubbles are age 21 and older.

Gross said it’s important to support the local music scene and bars in town.

“(Music) has gotten harder over the past few years,” Gross said. “Local bands don’t play for money, that’s for sure.” 

The Right Wrong Band performs Nov. 15  at Rubble's Bar.

The historical Broadway Theatre located at 216 E. Broadway St. is another entertainment option. Its doors opened in 1929 and still hosts classic films, musical acts and local theatre productions. The “Friends of Broadway” program is dedicated to preserving the historical space and providing a venue for community affairs. 

Looking to warm up during the winter months? Yoga on Main is just that: A hot yoga studio on Main Street that offers a variety of classes, said owner Alison Miller. Many of the yoga classes are movement-based, so she said it's a good place for people to warm and move their bodies.

On Broadway Street, there is a place where people can go to develop their artistic skills. Art Reach has been a part of the Mount Pleasant community since 1981. Art Reach provides art programs and classes for the community, administrative coordinator Kim Bigard said. This includes a variety of classes for people of all artistic intents and skill levels. Bigard said Art Reach has everything from one-day classes to monthly skill-building classes. Some upcoming classes include acrylic painting, wood-burning and scarf knitting.  

Shopping

Along with being a place to learn about art, Art Reach's location holds many pieces of art for sale. These range from fine art, to crafts made by local artists, Bigard said.

Art Reach sits on Nov. 15 at 111 E. Broadway St. in downtown Mount Pleasant.

She said at least half of the items in the store were made by local Mid-Michigan artists, and the rest are from other areas of Michigan. It also hosts galleries that may have opportunities for purchasing artwork.  

One of the oldest businesses in Mount Pleasant, Trillium, opened as the Mary Anne Fashion Center over 70 years ago. Even though the name and owner has changed multiple times, 123 Broadway St. has always been a prime location for clothing.

Owner Helen Chase said Trillium attracts fashion buffs, casual shoppers, gift buyers and CMU students or their parents.

“The important thing is we can help them in person. We will give them an honest opinion," Chase said. “We invite people to try things on, get advice, accessorize it on the spot. We are full service, and that’s what we’ve been always.”

Down the block from the Bird sits a smoke shop that’s been around for 16 years. Blue in the Face sells a variety of smoking accessories, including water pipes and glass bowls.

That’s not all the store sells, however. Manager Anndersen Fremin said by law, the business can’t have smoking products by the window. This leaves a huge empty space in front of the store she has to figure out how to use. So, they are always trying new things to fill the space, including vintage clothing, incense, disc golf and posters.

These stores and more could be useful for finding gifts when the holidays roll around.

Parade-goers wave from a float at the Christmas Lights Parade on Dec. 1, 2018 on Broadway Street in downtown Mount Pleasant.

Holiday Time & Community

While winter may conjure thoughts of cold and darkness, downtown Mount Pleasant lights up during this time of year. Sponseller said the holiday ambiance of downtown brings a shimmer and twinkle to the historical architecture of the city.

“Cities that are sung about in Christmas music don’t just highlight the spirit of the holiday, they create it,” Sponseller said.

On Dec. 6-7, Mount Pleasant is hosting its annual Christmas Celebration, with a tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 6 and a Christmas light parade on Dec 7. Sponseller said there are typically around 60-70 entries in the parade. More information can be found on the city’s website.

Downtown business owner Rick Swindlehurst hangs holiday lights on the Art Reach building Nov. 19 on Broadway Street in downtown Mount Pleasant.

Businesses downtown get into the Christmas spirit as well. One event Gross is planning is a Santa Claus-themed bar crawl with other bars downtown. Customers would walk around town from bar to bar wearing Santa outfits.

Art Reach expands its retail space during the holiday season and sells decorations like glass bulb ornaments, Bigard said. It also participates in the Christmas celebration by being a warming station and hosting live music.

Beyond Christmas, architecture and business, is the Mount Pleasant community. Joseph said he likes a hidden gem downtown – a mural located on North Franklin Street that reads, “Mount Pleasant is a pleasant place to be.” He isn’t exactly sure how old the mural is, but he used to walk by it often and used it for one of his campaign photos.

Joseph stayed in Mount Pleasant after graduating from CMU because he felt content in Mount Pleasant, he said.

“It’s the community values that I really identify with,” Joseph said. “I’m not in a rush (to leave). I’m not like a lot of other people who are like, ‘I've got to get out of Mount Pleasant.’”

Mayor Will Joseph discusses why he has chosen to remain in Mount Pleasant after graduating Nov. 17 in front of a mural on Franklin Street.

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