In spite of everything going against the service industry right now — particularly pandemic-related capacity restrictions and difficulty finding staff — new restaurants are opening in Metro Detroit this spring and summer.
Some are places we’ve been waiting for, like Sloppy Crab in downtown Detroit, which was on my list of anticipated fall openings but still has yet to emerge from its shell.
More upcoming openings are from familiar players, like the relocated vegan restaurant Nosh Pit and a new project called Imaginate from Table No. 2 chef and owner Omar Mitchell, both coming to the restaurant-dense streets of downtown Royal Oak. Mitchell is hoping Imaginate opens in June, and six months after that is up and running, he is reopening Table No. 2 in a not-yet-announced location in downtown Detroit (it closed on the Avenue of Fashion in 2020).
The restaurateur says in spite of the lingering pandemic, now is the time to open new places because people will soon be ready to go out and dine in droves.
“Now is the best time ever because everyone is so anxious about getting out,” said Mitchell, adding that people have asked him if he’s “crazy” for opening a restaurant during a pandemic. “There are so many restaurant opportunities right now. You’d be a fool not to jump on board. These are the best restaurant opportunities I’ve ever had.”
He’s about ready to start staffing and is looking for an executive chef, dining room manager and a sommelier.
“I’m being positive about (staffing) because if you build a great concept and a great restaurant, you’re going to get employees knocking the doors down trying to work for you because they want to learn and they want to work for someone that’s doing a really good job, so that’s how were going to attract staff — by doing an impeccable job.”
Here’s what we know about of the new cafes, bistros and date-night destinations readying to debut this spring and summer.
Nosh Pit: This vegan restaurant, caterer and food truck Nosh Pit lost its brick-and-mortar restaurant in Hamtramck during the pandemic, and is just about ready to reopen with a bigger space in Royal Oak, just a stone’s throw from the Emagine and Main Art Theatres. More space means more menu items to join the vegan coney dogs, sloppy joes and other sandwiches, plus soups, snacks and desserts. Guests can also look forward to a more technology-driven approach to ordering and service. “We’re going to specialize in fast service. That is one of the things we have done for years on the food truck is fast, good vegan food,” said co-owner Karen Kahn. 304 N. Main, Royal Oak. (313) 486-0777. noshpitdetroit.com.
Imaginate: This “posh” concept from chef Omar Mitchell is expected to open in June in the former Bistro 82 space, which also was an upscale destination. Mitchell says entrees will run $27-$59 and this is also his first restaurant with a liquor license, so he’ll have a full bar and wine list. Imaginate, which was once planned as a restaurant inside the Ramada by Wyndham Southfield, will also have room on an upper level for private and special events. 401 S. Lafayette, Royal Oak.
The Goblin: This Clinton Township sushi bar is barely 2 years old, and the owners Jo Cho and Jin Cha are already looking to expand on their fresh, minimalist concept. The Goblin sushi’s second spot will be fully up and running at 2547 Bagley in Detroit soon (they held a test run last weekend). In July, sushi fans in Macomb Township can look forward to a location at 21876 23 Mile Road.
Sloppy Crab: Greektown’s seafood options will get bolder when Sloppy Crab opens in a redone space where Briggs sports bar was, coming from the team behind Sloppy Chops in Detroit on W. McNichols near the Lodge Fwy. Think king crab legs, deep-fried soft-shell crab and other shelled delights that can be enjoyed at the bar, inside the dining room or on the rooftop. Sloppy Crab is expected to announce an opening date in a few weeks. 519 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit.
Freya and Dragonfly: Sandy Levine, owner of beloved Detroit restaurant Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails, is making progress on these hotly anticipated spots, located in the same building in Milwaukee Junction. We should be sipping cocktails and enjoying chef-driven cuisine here before the end of summer. Beaubien and E. Grand Blvd., Detroit.
Barda: Pending a few loose ends, this fire-fueled South American restaurant should be ready to debut as soon as next month in Detroit. Buenos Aires-born chef Javier Bardauil is keeping some visual elements of the restaurant Magnet, which was in this space for a short time in 2019, but will cook his own menu of meat, seafood and vegetables via open flame or wood-fired oven. Perpendicular to the open kitchen is a full bar with nods to South American spirits, wine and drink trends. 4842 Grand River, Detroit. bardadetroit.com.
The Beer Exchange: We’re still waiting patiently for this unique concept to join the downtown craft beer and dining scene. Besides a restaurant with beer prices that fluctuate in real time based on demand like a fun stock market, the Detroit location of the Beer Exchange (the original in Kalamazoo opened in 2010) will also have a pizzeria called Shorty Bell’s Pizza and the Grand River Ballroom, a game room and event space. Washington and Grand Blvd., Detroit. thebeerexchange.com.
Sylvan Table: Panning out to mid-Oakland County, this new restaurant inside an immense 300-year-old barn will serve super seasonal, American fare cooked on an 8-foot wood-fired grill and a wood-fired pizza oven. Sitting on three acres of farm, Sylvan Table — which has a two-level dining room, outdoor patio and a full bar — will have a strong focus on freshness and sustainability. 1819 Inverness, Sylvan Lake. sylvantable.com.
Bronze Door: Last year, Andiamo owner Joe Vicari announced he had teamed up with Anthony Soave of Soave Enterprises to purchase the Hill Seafood & Chop House in Grosse Pointe Farms. They’ve rebranded the restaurant as the Bronze Door, an homage to a Grosse Pointe restaurant of the same name that thrived in the 1970s in this same location. “In the ’70s it was a special place to go,” said Vicari. “Kids that went to Grosse Pointe South would go there for their proms and homecomings and your family would take you there for special occasions, someone’s birthday.” He said the new Bronze Door will have a lively vibe and a menu “that’s going to appeal to everybody,” including some healthy options and a few dishes that some seasoned diners may remember from the original. The 21st century version of Bronze Door may open the first or second week of June. 123 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Farms. bronzedoorgp.com.
The Great Commoner: Expected to have a soft open this month, this Dearborn cafe will serve coffee drinks, fresh-pressed juices and breakfast, brunch and lunch — think ricotta toast, beignets and shakshuka — to enjoy in the 6,200-square-foot renovated, historic space. Dinner service will come later, and there may be craft beverages and mocktails, but no alcohol. This is a project of chef Matt Knio of Cannelle and the team at Brome Modern Eatery. 22001 Michigan, Dearborn. (313) 403-1200. greatcommoner.com.
Supergeil: The owners of Two James distillery is opening a döner kebab shop in Corktown across the street from their facility and tasting room, next to popular Thai restaurant Takoi. Besides the Berlin-style sandwiches, they’ll have beer, wine and spirits. They say Supergeil may be ready to debut as soon as June, or maybe July. 2442 Michigan, Detroit.
Joe Louis Southern Kitchen: Opening this week, this 2,600-square-foot restaurant will serve brunch all day, 7 a.m-3 p.m. The theme is southern home cooking, with homages to the boxing legend. Managing partner Johnny Cannon and Joe Louis II plan to take the concept national in the future. 6549 Woodward, Detroit. facebook.com/jlskdetroit.
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