Leon & Lulu whets shoppers’ appetites

Photo shows Mary Liz Curtin at Leon & Lulu

When it comes to retail, Leon & Lulu is the cat’s meow.

Mary Liz Curtin outside Three Cats restaurant
Mary Liz Curtin greets visitors to Three Cats.

Make that Three Cats.

The Clawson, Mich., emporium upgraded its Three Cats Café into an upscale restaurant this fall, dropping the “Café” and adding one more element that makes Leon & Lulu a unique destination for shoppers, diners or locals meeting for a drink after work.

“Three Cats is a collaboration between Mary Liz Curtin, co-owner of the popular Leon & Lulu boutique in downtown Clawson, and longtime Michigan restaurateur Matt Prentice,” The Detroit Free Press reported in September.

“I have admired Matt’s food and knack for service for many years,’ Curtin said in a statement. ‘I cannot imagine starting a restaurant with anyone else. Three Cats will make Leon & Lulu a complete destination where guests can enjoy a fine meal as well as great shopping.’”

On a lighter note, Curtin introduced the new restaurant with a whimsical video promising, in Michigan style, food with “a lot of butter in it.” Or, maybe not.

Reclaiming a roller rink and theater

Curtin and her husband, Stephen Scannell, opened Home Furnishings Association member Leon & Lulu in a former roller rink in 2006. They offered an eclectic range of goods: high-end furniture, clothing, gifts and more. Later, they purchased an old movie theater next door and installed the café and a bar. This year, they completed a major upfit, creating an excellent dining opportunity in downtown Clawson, 18 miles north of Detroit. It’s called Three Cats because, well, Curtin and Scannell had a trio of feline pets.

The restaurant is in an old theater
Three Cats occupies a former movie theater.

Prentice presents a menu of American cuisine served on small plates – or modest-sized portions. Fish from Michigan waters isfeatured when available. The food is complemented by American wines, including Michigan selections, and beer crafted by Michigan brewers.

A recent entrée was: “Tempura Lake Superior Whitefish, Mucky Duck Mustard Glaze, Three Cats Hash, Kickin’ Greens” for $15.

Waterfowl is frequently served, such as: “Roasted Indiana Duck, Michigan Cherries, Hash, Fall Vegetables” for $20.

The opening night was a fundraiser for Cass Community Social Services, a Detroit anti-poverty nonprofit. “Cat’s cash all goes to Cass,” Curtin said in promoting the event.

Buy the table you just dined on

An interior shot of the Three Cats restaurant
Three Cats combines a dining room, showroom, gift shop … and truck stop?

Because it’s part of Leon & Lulu, Three Cats merges a dining room with a furniture showroom, gift shop and truck stop. Yes, there’s an old pickup truck inside. It still runs. In fact, Curtin drove it there herself.

“Often, you can buy the table you just dined on,” Curtin said. Shoppers can wander through the restaurant. Visitors stop to take pictures of the eye-catching décor. Old movies play on a large TV screen – this was a theater, don’t forget. It all contributes to an entertaining day or evening out.

On a November Saturday afternoon, traffic was strong throughout the complex. Curtin, who had spent part of the day setting up Christmas decorations, said the approaching holidays were bringing out customers. It was a little too soon to quantify how much the new restaurant has added to furniture sales, but she expected positive reviews.

Anything that whets shoppers’ appetites has got to be good for business.

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