CANNON TWP. — The Mitten Brewing Co. is once again leaning on pizza — a company mainstay that helped it through its early brewing years as well as the COVID-19 pandemic — with a new takeout and delivery concept.
“From the get-go, when we first opened, our pizza was what got us through,” said Max Trierweiler, co-owner of the Grand Rapids-based brewery. “Our beer needed to improve, and we knew that. We got to the point where we’re just as proud of our product that we’re putting out in cans as we are our pizzas.”
With its flagship location in Grand Rapids, Mitten now plans to put its pizza on full display with a new Rockford-area location called Mitten Pizza Co.
Unlike its taprooms in Grand Rapids, Saugatuck and Northport, Mitten Pizza Co. will feature pizza — both longtime items from its menu and new products — without any beer.
Mitten has leased a 1,600-square-foot suite at 6051 Belding Road NE in Cannon Township, located between an AGO gas station and local ice cream shop Frosty Boy. Mitten will also offer delivery.
“This is kind of our test store for delivery,” said Trierweiler, who lives in nearby Belmont. “If things go well, maybe we can add it to Grand Rapids and Saugatuck and future Mitten Pizza endeavors.”
Trierweiler said his team has avoided major challenges along the way, leveraging the experience it gained while expanding its taproom to both Saugatuck and Northport.
Mitten Pizza Co. is targeting a Sept. 1 opening. It is partnering with Comstock Park-based Amore Trattoria Italiana, which will make signature dishes also available for takeout or delivery.
Trierweiler added that the opening process has been slightly delayed by difficulty in sourcing equipment, primarily a walk-in cooler for the restaurant.
The restaurant will also open as the economy lifts out of the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged the restaurant industry. Trierweiler said Mitten’s pizza was also central in keeping the business afloat during a time when dine-in service went away for nearly a year.
“COVID taught us that our pizza kind of got us through the shutdown,” he said. “We were able to continue to do our pizza to go and we wanted to kind of protect ourselves if it were to happen again. This was a good way of doing it.”
Still, Mitten will have to contend with a business climate that includes rising food costs and a profound labor shortage. The labor issue does cause some concern for Trierweiler.
“We believe we have a pretty good model set up,” he said. “We just announced that, at all of our locations, we’re going to make sure that people make at least $15 an hour. That’s been making it a little easier to find good people, and I hope that continues at Mitten Pizza.”
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