How to keep metro Detroit kids happy at the tail end of winter

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With the weather hovering between icy wind and mild temperatures, kids are getting antsy for spring. Until you can simply send your little one outside for hours of amusement, here are some ideas to keep them happy and occupied.

Make a special occasion out of going to the theater. The Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton Township is showing the children’s classic “Charolotte’s Web” March 23 and 24. Your adolescent might enjoy “Rock of Ages” put on by the Clintondale Community Theatre the first two weekends in May.

The Anton Art Center in Mount Clemens offers youth art classes. March’s classes are 3-D Map, Illuminated Monogram and Impressions. April’s classes follow an upcycling theme. No appointment is needed to create your own art at Plaster Playhouse in Shelby Township. Simply choose your piece of plaster or pottery and start painting!

Boost your baby’s brain power through programs offered at your local library. Throughout the year, the Clinton-Macomb Public Library offers storytime sessions including Baby Time, Tot Time, Little Listeners, Preschool, Music & Movement and Pajamarama. My daughter loves Pajama Storytime at the Eastpointe Memorial Library, where kids dress in their pajamas, bring their favorite stuffed animal to hold and listen to the youth librarian read stories.

Check with your local Parks and Recreation Department to see what seasonal offerings are scheduled. The Warren Community Center boasts an indoor waterpark comprised of a lap pool, pool basketball, waterslide, lazy river and play structure complete with a water cannon and waterfall. Other nice amenities for adults include a sauna, steam room and fitness room.

Get hands-on and join your kid for a skate around the rink. The St. Clair Shores Ice Arena has public skating from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. It is $3 per person, and children under 6 are free when accompanied by an adult. Admission to the Mount Clemens Ice Arena is $5 for adults and $4.50 for students, seniors and youth. Skate rental is $3.

Pack on the layers and head out to one of Macomb County’s Metroparks. Weather permitting, Lake St. Clair Metropark offers ice fishing, cross-country skiing and outdoor ice skating. Snowshoe or cross-country ski across marked trails at Stony Creek Metropark, or head over to the winter sports area with hills to snowboard, sled or toboggan. Eastpointe’s Spindler Park recently revamped its new sledding hill. Open dawn to dusk, it includes a hay bale safety barrier and seating area. The Macomb Orchard Trail isn’t just for running or biking; it’s also open to cross-country skiers.

Just Delicious SconesJust Delicious Scones on Utica in Roseville is a quaint tea room, bakery and coffee shop with … well, delicious scones. Get big-girl dressed up for this fancy excursion. Sip tea or cider from beautiful china and delicately nibble on scones – a memory your child will remember. If your little one isn’t likely to sit still for long, try Chuck E. Cheese in Roseville or Sterling Heights. Jungle Java in Clinton Township is an indoor play center with a sports court and laser maze. It includes a separate toddler play area and a full menu.

Let the kids burn off energy at the Bounce House in New Baltimore, St. Clair Shores or Sterling Heights. It consists of giant inflatable slides, moon walks and an obstacle course along with arcade games that might even entertain mom and dad. Try Airtime in Sterling Heights or Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Shelby Township for open jumping on wall-to-wall trampolines, foam pits, dodgeball and basketball. Jumpers are sorted by age to make sure the intensity level is a good match, though there are waivers that must be signed before participating in the fun. Play miniature golf any day of the week at Jawor’s on Gratiot in Roseville. It has an 18-hole course for kids of all ages and is open year-round.

It doesn’t matter what you decide to do as long as you make the time you spend together count. Unplug and give your kids your full attention – that’s all they want!

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Top five reasons I’m pumped to Walk for Warmth

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Despite being in its 26th year, I never knew very much about Walk for Warmth. This year, I decided to participate with my family. Here are the factors that motivated me to register – maybe they will motivate you too!

1. Help those in need
Hosted by Macomb Community Action, this event raises funds for low-income Macomb County residents with heat-related emergencies. Funds will go toward paying utility bills and even replace broken furnaces, providing vulnerable residents with an essential need – warmth.

Macomb Mall sign2. Shop at the newly-renovated Macomb Mall
With an Old Navy gift card burning a hole in my purse since Christmas, this is the perfect excuse to spend some time shopping. Macomb Mall has generously donated their newly-remodeled space for this event. Check out the renovated lights, tiles, paint and seating as well as the new stores like ULTA Beauty, Rue 21, Chipotle, Potbelly and H&M – I’m so excited to have one nearby! I also look forward to trying 1,000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza.

3. Exercise
After hibernating the past few months, I’m ready to stretch my legs, strap on my baby carrier and heft my soon-to-be 10-month-old around. At the rate she’s growing, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to do this! I signed up for the indoor 5K walk, but there is also the option to compete in the outdoor 5K run – brrr!

4. Start a tradition of giving
A few months ago, our department participated in a training seminar offered by Care Worklife Solutions, the county’s employee assistance provider. The presenter shared a story about how as a child, she went with her father to pass out fresh produce to their neighbors and those in need. Because she grew up witnessing the impact of giving, it continues to play a large role in her life today. Not only would I like to place more emphasis on charity in my own life, but I would also love to create a culture of giving for my daughter. Since this is an annual event, this is the perfect time to step up your own philanthropy, both now and in following years.

12804713_1208548415840582_6694656021203243462_n5. Be part of the community
With so many struggles occurring all around us in this state and in the world, it can be easy to forget those in need right in our own community. Funds from Walk for Warmth might be helping my neighbors or yours. A great turnout for this event will not only enable participants to support Macomb County residents, but also send the message that we care about our low-income residents and support them.

The 26th Annual Walk for Warmth event will take place on Saturday, Feb. 27. There is still time to register, sponsor or make a donation at mca.macombgov.org/W4W. I hope to see you there!

Bagels on the eastside

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This past weekend, I went to Baffin Brewing Company to meet up with Shannon Parent of Eastside Bagel to drink some micro-brewed beer and talk about bagels. I savored a Heffenwolf hefeweizen while she sipped a Crossroads cream ale and told me about the origin of Eastside Bagel – a St. Clair Shores instituation for the past 21 years.

When Shannon’s mom and dad Liz and Joe Parent moved into the area in 1987, they had a tough time finding a bagel shop anywhere on the eastside. With career backgrounds in office and industrial work, these entrepreneurs took matters into their own hands to remedy the situation. Liz started working at a bagel shop to learn how to bake. From there, they opened their own business and perfected their bagel recipes. A family business, Shannon and her sister have worked at the shop most of their adult lives.

“Over the years, I fell in love with every aspect that it takes to be part of this business,” Shannon explained. “It’s a craft and a process, and it isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.”

Eastside Bagel produces thousands of bagels a week. They make the dough, kettle boil the bagels, lay them out on canvas boards, bake one side, and flip onto stone to bake the other side until shiny. And all of this usually takes place around 3 a.m.

Shannon compared the bagel process to brewing at Baffin, another small business in St. Clair Shores. Brewer Evan Feringa often brews all night and into the early morning hours, crafting a unique product from scratch. When you put that much effort into your work, you’re bound to be passionate about it.

Eastside Bagel offers an extensive variety of bagels, the most popular being Jalapeno Cheddar, Everything and Spinach Asiago. The bagels are soft and fresh. One of my favorites is the Cinnamon and Sugar bagel, but I also really enjoy their nutritious Breakfast Cookie, which is packed with dates, raisins and almonds.

While bagels are the star, Eastside Bagel also offers sandwiches, soups and salads made to order. The vinaigrette they use is Shannon’s great-aunt’s recipe. They make their own cream cheese that comes in delicious flavors like cherry almond, garlic and chive and feta. Lox sandwiches are also popular, and they sell lox by the pound at a competitive price. Beverages include coffee, chai tea, cappuccino, fresh-squeezed juice, fruit smoothies and more.

When you walk into one of their stores, you’ll order at the counter. The line moves fast, so it’s helpful to have an idea of what you want. There are a lot of interesting options to choose from though, so don’t be afraid to try something new! Pay at the counter, and if you’re dining in, just have a seat and they will bring you your food. The friendly staff may chat with you while you wait.

Eastside Bagel is a great place to enjoy a hot breakfast and a cup of coffee, to pick up a dozen bagels for the office, or to cater your next business meeting. So now that you’ve heard all about these delicious, one-of-a-kind, preservative-free bagels made locally, go try one!

Bagel A

21601 Harper, St. Clair Shores, MI 48080
(586) 775-8820

Hours
Monday – Friday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Historic Eastpointe church celebrates 170 years

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WeddingIn 1845, there were 28 states in the Union, James K. Polk was inaugurated as the 11th U.S. president, Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” was published and St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded. This year, St. Peter’s is celebrating their 170th anniversary.

While I’m writing this, I can hear sweet melodies from my bedroom window chimed by St. Peter’s church bells that date back to 1876. I was married in this church; it’s where my parents were married. My daughter was baptized there last month, the same place I was.

Eastpointe in 1845 was known as Erin Township and was dominated by oak forests and swamps. The Fort Gratiot Turnpike, made of logs, was the only main road, and Nine Mile was simply a bridle path. Henry Ford wouldn’t open his first automobile factory for another 58 years.

The area was settled by German immigrants who left Germany due to religious oppression. For a while, there was only one Lutheran pastor in Michigan, traveling to preach and perform baptisms. A small congregation formed in Erin Township and met in each other’s homes until 1845 when they Called Johann Friedrich Winkler to be their pastor. They built a log church on the Fort Gratiot Turnpike south of Eight Mile, and this is when St. Peter’s began.

DeedA year later, the congregation split, and land was bought for a new church on the northwest corner of Nine Mile and Gratiot for $10. A new log church was built, and in 1850, a school was established. Additional land was purchased for $40, and a brick church was built in 1859. The bricks for the building were handmade on a farm near Ten Mile and transported by wagon. The school moved into the vacated log building, and many additions and expansions occurred to both church and school until St. Peter’s moved to its current location at 23000 Gratiot Avenue in 1950.

My grandmother Carol Middeldorf remembers this occasion. She taught first and second grade along with my grandfather Carl Middeldorf who taught fifth and sixth grade the last year the school was located on Nine Mile. There were only four teachers, each had about 50 students. She and Carl lived in a small loft next to the school, and since the current building was being constructed just across Gratiot, she recalls walking up there to check on the progress. Carol went on to teach first grade and Sunday school in the current building, and for 43 years, Carl served in many capacities including as teacher, coach, youth director and principal.

Over time, pastors came and went and members split to form new congregations. Several prominent Lutheran churches in this area can trace their roots back to St. Peter’s. For example, St. Mark in Roseville is an offshoot of St. Peter’s, and St. John Fraser fragmented from St. Mark.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday, St. Peter’s has grown to include an Early Childhood Center, providing daycare for children as young as 6 weeks; a grade school ranging from preschool to eighth grade; and a beautiful Neo-Gothic-style brick church with stained glass windows, vaulted ceiling, slate floor and bell tower with original bells from the Nine Mile location. The grounds also include a peaceful cemetery, playground, gymnasium and pristine baseball fields for school and adult league use. Adjacent is the Lutheran Fraternities of America No. 57 banquet hall where members from many different Lutheran congregations meet once a month to socialize. They are presently accepting new members, and the hall is available to the public for rental.

Early Childhood CenterSt. Peter’s continues to provide many programs for children and adults. In addition to the daycare and school, they also offer summer camp, Vacation Bible School and an active youth group. They reach out to the community through their food pantry and mission donations, and they offer fellowship through coffee hour and Bible study.

All year, St. Peter’s has been celebrating its rich history. This past March, they held their First Annual Gala which included a silent and live auction, dinner and dancing. Last month, they held a historical church service. Though not in German, the service followed an order of worship from the past, performed baptisms in the restored original baptismal font and administered communion from a vintage chalice. Afterward, they celebrated with a well-attended outdoor pig roast (a 198-pound pig was purchased and transported from Tennessee!), pie-eating contest and children’s games.

Pig RoastMore activities are planned for this momentous year, such as an ice cream social at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23 and an anniversary service and banquet at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27. St. Peter’s is inviting all current, prospective and former church members and students and anyone who was baptized, confirmed or married there to participate in the celebration. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids if purchased before September. It will be a time to remember the past, reconnect with one another and look toward the future, all while praising God.

St. Peter’s is calling to its flock, saying, “No matter where you may be in your life or in the world, we are still your home.”

For more information on the history of St. Peter’s, check out “How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place” and “Come Unto Me” available at the Eastpointe Memorial Library and the Mount Clemens Public Library. For current happenings, like St. Peter’s on Facebook.

23000 Gratiot Ave., Eastpointe 48021 (586) 777-6300

23000 Gratiot Ave., Eastpointe 48021
(586) 777-6300

Office Hours
Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Worship Services
Sundays 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and Wednesdays 7 p.m.

School Enrollment
Now open for the August 2015 – June 2016 school year

Early Childhood Center Hours
Open year-round, Monday – Friday 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

16140 Aurora, Eastpointe 48021 (586) 779-2810

LFA Hall
16140 Aurora, Eastpointe 48021
(586) 779-2810

New garden center offers plethora of magnificent Mother’s Day gifts

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In Michigan, the anticipated warmth and beauty of spring’s arrival can sometimes be anticlimactic. March 20 was the first day of spring this year, but we still experienced cool weather, cloudy skies and even some snow in late April.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, now is the perfect time to shake off the chill and look toward the sunny skies of May. That’s right – it’s time for bright-colored annuals, hanging baskets and even vegetables.

The newest garden center to open in Macomb County is Drew’s Garden, and it’s the perfect place to find gifts for mom. You can’t go wrong with a birdhouse, wind chime, patio pot, 10-inch hanging basket (for only $12.99!), colorful watering can filled with flowers, butterfly bush or hummingbird plant.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADrew’s Garden is located in what was formerly Semrau Garden Center in Eastpointe. Opened in 1916, Semrau was in operation for 99 years, with four generations of Semraus working there. For me and many others, it was a staple of spring and summer, and I was heartbroken when I saw the “for sale” sign go up. However, after some time to process and a visit to the new garden center, much like spring, my spirits have been renewed.

Opening just this past March, Drew’s Garden has already made a large investment in the community. The store was completely gutted and freshly painted in vibrant colors, the bathrooms were remodeled and there is a ton of new merchandise including houseplants, gardening tools and supplies, exotic tropicals such as palms and pineapple plants, seeds, bird feeders and fairy garden landscapes.

Renovations have been occurring outside as well. A new electronic sign, a 48-by-44-foot wooden pergola and a 60-foot flower box (soon to be a wall of flowers) have all gone up. The pergola is stocked full of hanging baskets and their outdoor merchandise includes shrubs, roses, vegetables, herbs, annuals and 279 varieties of perennials. You will also see familiar faces as many of the Semrau employees have stayed on staff.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPatrick Kouza is the proud new owner, but this isn’t his first time running a business. He also owns Penny Lake Market in Walled Lake where he added a flower market in the parking lot. His love for flowers has led him to buy this nursery, which he named after one of his children. In addition to renovations, Pat has also lengthened the store’s hours and season. In August, he plans to have a farmers market, offering Amish-grown plants.

Exciting new things are happening at 23751 Gratiot, and now is the perfect time to check it out – and don’t forget to pick up something great for mom!

 

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23751 Gratiot Avenue, Eastpointe, MI 48021 (586) 775-3770

 

Hours
Monday – Saturday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Warren business serving up locally-sourced Latin American cuisine

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Pilar’s Tamales in Warren is offering something really unique in Macomb County – gluten-free Salvadoran food with dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan options. It’s made with many all-natural, free-range and organic ingredients from local Michigan farms.

You may have had a tamale the last time you dined at your favorite Mexican restaurant (see A look into Plaza Mexico), but when was the last time you had a pupusa with fried yuca root and tamarind?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI hadn’t even heard of these savory dishes until I tried them at Pilar’s. A pupusa is a grilled handmade tortilla made from stone-ground corn masa filled with your choice of chicken, pork or black beans and cheese. Fried yuca root is derived from the root of a shrubby plant with large, starchy roots. Fried and coated with a spicy seasoning, it is essentially a tropical French fry. Tamarind is a Latin American drink made from the fruit of an Asian evergreen tree. Pilar’s peels their own pods to make this tart and fruity drink.

And of course, there are tamales. Handmade with stone-ground corn masa, these tamales are filled with all-natural chicken, chicken and cheese, all-natural pork, spicy pork with ghost chili peppers, chorizo (pork sausage), jalapeno and cheese, black beans and cheese, vegan black beans or tempeh (soybeans). Then they are rolled, steamed and served with a delicious homemade sauce and a side of curtido (cabbage slaw). In fact, all of their stocks, salsa, sauces and salads are made in house. I recommend the perfect pair special because you get to try both a tamale and a pupusa.

Pilar’s opened their first location in Ann Arbor in 2000. A family of refugees fleeing from the Salvadoran Civil War, they began their business with a tamale cart, selling to University of Michigan students. The business expanded as they became vendors at several farmers markets, offering cold tamales that can be easily frozen and reheated. In early 2014, after looking for a satellite kitchen to be closer to Eastern Market, the Royal Oak Farmers Market and the Birmingham Farmers Market, Juan Carlos Nolasco and his wife Sandra Naimou found an affordable spot in Warren and opened a second Pilar’s Tamales kitchen and restaurant. Juan Carlos’ sisters and mother still manage the Ann Arbor location.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALocating on Mound between Chicago and 14 Mile Road has proven to be a good business decision. In addition to their proximity to nearby farmers markets, Pilar’s is also seconds away from the popular Warren Community Center and pool and two of the largest employers in the area: the GM Technical Center and TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. GM has even invited Pilar’s to participate in a rotating lunch program they offer to their employees.

Juan Carlos was surprised by how much support they have received from the community. “The people here really care about what they are eating; they care about their health,” he said. His favorite part of running Pilar’s is meeting people who are open to new foods and to trying something different.

The recipes are not necessarily traditional Salvadoran because the concept of healthy food was incorporated from the very beginning. While authentic Latin American recipes often contain some not-so-healthy ingredients (think lard), Pilar’s has created their own delicious and healthy versions while still remaining true to their Salvadoran roots. They have devised more varieties of tamales and have included healthier meats raised without antibiotics, hormones or artificial growth stimulants. Kale, squash and other seasonal produce are locally grown at Vanhoutte Farms in Armada. Since everything is free of gluten, it is the ideal dining destination for patrons with celiac disease or food allergies.

I could go on and on about the different sides, drinks, desserts and specials available (casamiento made with organic black beans and organic white rice; fried plantains (like a fried banana); and gluten-free, vegan, soy-free and nut-free chocolate chip bliss bars), but you should really explore this restaurant for yourself. Keep an open mind, and remember, this is Salvadoran food and might not be exactly what you expect at first – but I promise it will grow on you!

This tiny restaurant offers carry out and minimal dining in. Open Tuesday through Saturday, hours are limited, so be sure plan your visit accordingly. And don’t forget their cold tamales, perfect for freezing and reheating for a great meal at home or an office lunch.

 

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32247 Mound Road, Warren, MI 48092 (586) 838-5608

 Pilar’s Tamales Menu

Hours
Tuesday – Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday – 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday – 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday

Cloverleaf: Experience Detroit-style pizza at its best

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Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant is an iconic staple in Macomb County. Founded by the father of the Detroit square pizza, Gus Guerra, it has been in business since 1953. Still using the original recipe, Cloverleaf offers one seriously tasty deep-dish pizza in addition to other favorites like crunchy sweet bread, whipped cheesecake and cold drinks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeing from the area, you might take Detroit-style pizza for granted and not even know what it is. It is defined as a square, deep-dish pizza with sauce on top and a crispy crust. Guerra and his wife Anna first introduced this style of pizza in 1946 as the original founders of Buddy’s Rendezvous in Detroit. They sold Buddy’s and the recipe in 1953 and purchased Cloverleaf in East Detroit. Today, Cloverleaf still sits at 24443 Gratiot Avenue in Eastpointe and is run by the Guerras’ children Jack Guerra and Marie Guerra Easterby.

Cloverleaf offers a large eight-piece or a small four-piece pizza with a variety of toppings from which to choose. The specialty gourmet pies include bruschetta, Hawaiian, barbeque chicken, supreme and BLT. Each pizza is made fresh when you order it. Loaded with cheese, sauce and toppings, the pieces are substantial. Also newly available is gluten-free pizza, which is a really great-tasting option for those looking for gluten-free alternatives.

crunchy breadWhile you wait for your pizza to bake, try one of their delicious antipasto salads. This comes with fresh bread with rosemary baked into the crust and crunchy sweet bread. The latter is buttery, parmesan cheesy and at the same time sugary and sweet. If you decide to forego the salad, I highly recommend you ask your server for a bread basket so you can discover this crunchy sweet goodness for yourself.

Not in the mood for pizza? Cloverleaf also offers classic Italian dishes, pasta, ribs, lake perch, burgers and sandwiches. If you still have room for dessert, try the homemade whipped cheesecake with cherries or strawberries or the whipped Oreo cheesecake – both made in house and exceedingly good.

Also popular is the lunch buffet, offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Eastpointe location offers carryout and so do its franchise locations in Macomb Township, Sterling Heights and coming soon to 13 Mile in Roseville.

pintsThere is a fully-stocked bar with an assortment of beer on draft, bottled domestics and imports, wine and spirits to complement your meal, and if you time it right, there are happy hour specials. Cloverleaf has also been adding a growing number of craft beers to their selection. The bartenders are friendly, and in addition to bar seating, there are also high-top tables where you can watch sports or play Club Keno.

Throughout the rest of the restaurant, there is ample table and booth seating able to accommodate large groups. The enclosed patio is a great space to reserve for events like birthdays, showers or rehearsal dinners (this is where I had mine!). With a family-friendly atmosphere, I often see couples out on “date night,” families enjoying dinner out together and coworkers deconstructing their day over beers. Cloverleaf is also community-oriented, often hosting fundraisers for nonprofit and charity organizations.

Paint Nite logoSomething new being offered is Paint Nite, where an artist instructor guides you step by step to create your own beautiful painting. The registration fee includes the lesson, paint and canvas, making this a fun and easy night out with the girls or with your significant other. Most painters arrive early to grab a bite to eat, and of course, you must enjoy a glass of wine to get the creative juices flowing while you paint! Paint Nite takes place at 7 p.m. every other Wednesday in the enclosed patio. Go to www.paintnite.com to register (discounts are often available through Groupon, Living Social and the Paint Nite Detroit Facebook page).

If you’re looking for a really good pizza or simply a fun place to hang out, give Cloverleaf a try. Check out their Facebook page for current specials and upcoming events. You can also find them on Instagram under Cloverleaf Restaurant.

Cloverleaf entrance

24443 Gratiot Avenue, Eastpointe, MI 48021 (586) 777-5391

  Cloverleaf Menu

Hours
Monday – Wednesday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Sunday noon to 9 p.m.

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on March 18, 2015.