Two companies in tiny village complete facelifts and reinvigorate a downtown community

There have been some exciting changes in downtown Topinabee, Mich. thanks to two business facelifts.

Topinabee Market after completed façade improvmentsThe Topinabee Market and the Breakers Bar and Grill recently completed facade improvements projects with the assistance of an $81,000 grant to Mullett Township. The owners matched the Community Development Block Grant funds with interior and other improvements totaling $79,215 and by creating six new jobs.

The improvements help to revitalize the commercial center of the township and to better serve the needs of local residents, visitors and tourists in the area. To put this in perspective, this small village has four businesses, a library and a community park in its downtown. It is on a well-traveled road and bike path, and is situated on popular Mullett Lake.

Michigan State University Extension partner organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance worked with Mullett Township to facilitate the grant request to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Initial facade renderings were prepared through the Topinabee Development Association.

Mullett Township is involved as a “sponsor” for the grant and the two businesses must provide matching funds for the grant money they are receiving. Citizens National Bank has been involved in the financing of the projects and has been very helpful to the business owners.

The Breaker’s Bar & Grill plans to make a number of improvements to better serve the needs of local residents, visitors and tourists to the area. According to Breaker’s Bar and Grill owner Derek Schittekat, the work is extensive and includes enhancing the outdoor seating area. Plans include creating an upper deck and covering a portion of the lower deck so customers can better take advantage of the view of Mullett Lake.

There is interior work to be done as well, including a full kitchen will be put in, more coolers added, a third family-oriented restroom with changing station and the bar will increase the number of draft beers it offers from six to 16, Schittekat said. Among the 10 new beers will be one from the Cheboygan Brewery to offer a locally-crafted choice. Schittekat also noted that staff will be increased, adding that the grant funds were attached to job creation.

Work at the Topinabee Market includes the completion of architectural improvements for the south side of the building, replacement of the roof and windows on the back building used to support a pizza and catering operation and renovation of some interior portions of the store, according to O’Hare. “The Topinabee Market’s improvements and the enhancements to their building and infrastructure are very timely considering that the Beach Front Park, located directly across from the Market, will soon experience a complete renovation.

MSU Extension has had a unique partnership relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to state-wide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.

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