2008-04-12 / News

Mustang Lounge Receives New Look, but Keeps 'Feel' of Old Bar

By Ryan Schlehuber

The newly designed Mustang Lounge, under new management and ownership of Jason Klonowski (left) and Tony Brodeur, is expected to open in May. The new establishment, still under construction, is three stories high and will include a restaurant and bar on the first floor and housing for the two men and their families and employees on the second and third floor. The newly designed Mustang Lounge, under new management and ownership of Jason Klonowski (left) and Tony Brodeur, is expected to open in May. The new establishment, still under construction, is three stories high and will include a restaurant and bar on the first floor and housing for the two men and their families and employees on the second and third floor. The bar that Mackinac Islanders call their own, the Mustang Lounge, is under new ownership for the first time in nearly four decades. When regular patrons of the establishment step into the newly-restored building in May, they will see some old, familiar mementos and some new features. Jason Klonowski and Tony Brodeur intend to keep the Mustang's lore that has made it famous within the Island.

The two lifelong friends and former Mustang bartenders have saved all of the memorabilia that adorned the interior of the old building and plan to use some of it in the new establishment.

"This is a dream for us to do this together," said Mr. Klonowski, "and it was always our intention to keep it as the Mustang."

Dennis Brodeur poses with his dog, Sugarfoot, in front of his Mustang Lounge on Astor Street for a W.T. Rabe photograph in 1983. Mr. Brodeur had owned and operated the establishment since 1972. His grandson, Tony Brodeur, and longtime family friend, Jason Klonowski, have taken over the business. (Photograph courtesy of Leanne Brodeur) Dennis Brodeur poses with his dog, Sugarfoot, in front of his Mustang Lounge on Astor Street for a W.T. Rabe photograph in 1983. Mr. Brodeur had owned and operated the establishment since 1972. His grandson, Tony Brodeur, and longtime family friend, Jason Klonowski, have taken over the business. (Photograph courtesy of Leanne Brodeur) "We want to keep that feeling of the old Mustang as much as possible," said Mr. Brodeur. "If we didn't have to change it, we wouldn't. It has its own little legend."

Owing to its age and deterioration, with its main timber frames said to have been from the 1780s, the building had to be gutted and restored so it could be expanded.

The exterior will have a completely new look, and street-side dining will be added. A second and third floor addition, set back from the street, will include two apartments for Mr. Klonowski's and Mr. Brodeur's families, and three sleeping rooms for employees.

The family-oriented restaurant will be separated from the bar, and the interior will be wider than the old Mustang. It will allow for more space for entertainment and will be able to hold up to about 120 people. The old building's capacity was 48.

Mr. Klonowski said the menu will have 90% of what was offered before, but new items will include classic Detroit style Coney dogs, a new pizza recipe, many non-fried specials, and a secret signature sandwich that the two men discovered on a recent east coast trip.

Although much of the old building was removed in November, the main structure was preserved. Some of the 1780s timber will be exposed for view from inside and outside on the sidewalk.

The popular Island spot and property on Astor Street was purchased from Cathy Arbib, Stephanie Arbib, and Cynthia Pierson November 20, with construction beginning immediately after.

To make the purchase of the land property possible, Mr. Klonowski turned to his business mentor and family friend Larry Meyer. Mr. Klonowski worked for him as a lobbyist. Mr. Meyer, of Lansing, had been CEO of Michigan Retailers Association for 35 years.

The bar itself had been owned and operated by Tony Brodeur's grandfather, Dennis Brodeur, since fall 1972, when he purchased the bar from Butch Walters, an automobile dealer from Cheboygan, who christened the bar's name after his favorite car. Mr. Brodeur kept the name because it fit with Mackinac Island's horse culture.

When the Mustang used to be called Number 8 Astor Street, or the "Eight Ball," the owner never had a liquor license, remembers Mr. Klonowski.

When the doors were closed this past November, it was the first time the Mustang had been closed for 35 years, said Mr. Brodeur's daughter, Leanne Brodeur.

"I think it's pretty exciting to see the new Mustang," she said.

Mr. Klonowski, of Brighton and Mackinac Island, is originally from Redford Township. His parents are Arnie and Elaine Klonowski.

His mother operated the Forget Me Not Shoppe on the Island from 1984 to 1993. His father is the radiology manager for Visiting Physicians in Southfield.

Mr. Klonowski worked on the Island during summers, first as a dishwasher at Little Bob's, then as a "can boy" at Doud's Mercantile. He also worked for Dennis Brodeur's Mackinac Island Splash, a small business that created mock front page newspapers with personalized headlines, then moved over to the Mustang.

He and his wife, Suzanne, purchased J.L. Beanery last year.

Mr. Brodeur, 34, lives in Traverse City but will make the Island his home, as well, once the Mustang opens. He has made Mackinac Island his summer home since birth. He was washing dishes at the Village Inn by the age of 13, and now operates Martha's Sweet Shop in the Horse Corral Mall.

The mall is owned by his parents, Tony and Loretta Spata.

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