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Mad Nice Brings Coastal Italian Specialities, ‘California Vibes’ to Midtown This Winter

The Cass Corridor spot was previously supposed to open as Sauce

A rendering of the forthcoming Mad Nice, described as a Coastal Italian-inspired eatery with “California vibes.”
Heirloom Hospitality Group
Serena Maria Daniels is the editor for Eater Detroit.

The building at 4120 Second Ave. has undergone quite a bit of changes over the past eight years. In 2014, the aging Tom Boy Market shuttered for good in that space to make way for the relatively short-lived Will Leather Goods, a high-end luxury leather goods store that met its demise in spring 2019.

Later that year, plans for Sauce, a Neapolitan pizzeria helmed by Heirloom Hospitality Group (operators of Townhouse in Birmingham and Detroit, Prime + Proper, and Cash Only Supper Club), were announced — a spot initially characterized as a “Palm Springs-inspired” Italian restaurant and store. A spring 2020 opening never materialized, but now comes an announcement about the space’s latest incarnation: Mad Nice.

Described in a news release as “a perfect blend of modern Italian specialties and fresh California vibes,” Mad Nice is supposed to open sometime before the end of the year.

Mad Nice promises to focus on highlighting naturally fermented and preserved seasonally appropriate ingredients and particular care taken with its naturally-leavened pizza dough and house made breads, according to the news announcement published Monday.

The spot will feature a full bar with Michigan beers and spirits, a seasonal spritz menu, cocktails made with local ingredients, and a wine list boasting Italian and Californian wines curated by sommelier Chad Braun. In addition, the 10,500-square-foot sit-down restaurant will include a retail space — Mad Nice Goods — that will offer merchandise, including limited-edition retail collaborations, prepared and packaged food to-go, and a coffee and cocktails bar featuring lattes, affogatos, espresso martinis, fresh pastries, and sweets. In the kitchen, Myles McVay, the opening chef at Otus Supply in Ferndale. McVay was previously said to helm the kitchen under the previous plan.

“All the offerings at Mad Nice are meant to honor Italian tradition from a time, love, and care aspect while mixing in modern ideas of preparation, sourcing, and sustainability with a bit of Detroit sauce,” said McVay in the news release.

The restaurant was designed by Detroit-based Parini Design, the firm involved in the recent renovation at Townhouse downtown. One key feature, Mad Nice will open for lunch Tuesday through Sunday — somewhat of a rarity for sit-down restaurants in the city. Dinner service will be available daily and reservations are encouraged.