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Why Is Mario Batali So Interested in This Michigan Building?

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Rumors of a new restaurant project are building

The (RED) Supper hosted by Mario Batali with Anthony Bourdain Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

When he’s not hanging out on the beach, golfing, and shooting mysterious television shows at his summer home in Northern Michigan, Mario Batali seems to be keeping very close tabs on one particular building under-construction just north of Northport, some 280 miles northwest of Detroit.

During several exchanges on Twitter in July with Detroit-based developer and restaurateur Michael Chetcuti and architect Kyle Evans, the chef tracked the slow progress on the building.

So what exactly is Mario Batali’s stake in this mysterious development Up North? Batali declined to comment on the Northport building to Eater “until we are further down our path.”

It’s not a big stretch to suggest that Chetcuti might be involved in a restaurant project. The developer, who also has a home in Northport, is already active in the food and beverage industry. He’s a partner in Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina and Baia Estates Winery in Northport and also is part of a group that recently acquired Arbor Brewing Company.

Chetcuti also said he could not comment on the purpose of the building. However, he did say that the building at 222 West 8th St. “is being developed on the north side of Northport” — an area he is calling Nonopo with Kyle Evans Design developing the look of the structure. According to an image provided by Chetcuti, the building appears to have a brick facade with plenty of windows and possibly a large front entrance.

An design of the exterior of the “Nonopo” project.
Courtesy of Michael Chetcuti

Here’s the Twitter exchange in its entirety beginning July 9 when Batali jokes that the mysterious building project seems to be moving ahead rather slowly. In Chetcuti’s response, he refers to Batali as the #ProjectManagerChef.

A few days later, Batali shares a photo of a pile of bricks and the building in the background. Chetcuti replies that the chef should “stick with your pots and pans.”

He even compares the building process to cooking a meal.

For many years, Batali has spent his summers on Leelanau Peninsula, occasionally dipping down into Southeast Michigan for a food tour. Stay tuned for more details on the Northern Michigan development as they become available.

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