The wife-and-husband team of Mary Liz Curtin and Stephen Scannell, co-owners of Leon & Lulu in downtown Clawson, have nearly completed their redevelopment of the historic Clawson Theater.
They are converting the historic theater, which itself was converted from a theater to light industrial uses in the early 1960s, into a cafe, custom framing shop, and furniture showroom. Curtin expects to open in two to three months.
The redevelopment is a natural extension for Leon & Lulu, the popular furniture, clothing, gifts, and more shop that opened in the old Ambassador Roller Rink building in 2005.
It's been a big redevelopment, too. Curtin says the old Clawson Theater building needed just about everything one might imagine, including new plumbing, electricity, HVAC system, roof, and more.
The theater floor was flattened long ago after it closed in the 1960s. But Curtin and Scannell are restoring a bit of history with a refurbished theater marquee to hearken back to the days of the old Clawson entertainment district. Both the roller rink and theater buildings, separated only by a shared parking lot, were built in 1941.
According to Curtin, Clawson residents used to call the theater "the Show," so the new building will be called "The Show at Leon & Lulu."
The back will contain additional showroom space for furniture from the main shop as well as a custom framing workshop. Up front will be Three Cats Cafe, a place for shoppers to come take a load off after they've finished shopping at Leon & Lulu.
"We think it will complete the shopping experience," says Curtin. "It will be a place for a little sustenance, maybe some live music and a glass of wine. There will be pastries, cookies, and espresso in the morning, salads and quiches at lunch, hors d'oeuvres at night. It will be like the old days where there was a fabulous restaurant inside a department store."
For Curtin, The Show at Lulu & Leon completes the story, providing a center for the community. She says they've never wanted to franchise the Leon & Lulu brand. But they do want to improve the location in downtown Clawson. It's about more than the merchandise, she says. It's an experience.
"What we really sell is happiness and fun."
Leon & Lulu
is located at 96 W. 14 Mile Rd. in Clawson.
Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.