Innovative chef Lorraine Platman and partner Gary Sussman will close the Southfield restaurant on June 25 after 33 years; a cookbook could be next
Considered to be one of the area’s original farm-to-table and vegetarian-friendly restaurant, Sweet Lorraine’s Cafe & Bar will close after more than 30 years at the end of June.
Chef Lorraine Platman announced this week that she and her husband and business partner, Gary Sussman, would close the Southfield restaurant on June 25 due to Platman’s desire to slow down. She says she’s been working 70-80 hours a week for more than 25 years.
Sussman says the outpouring of support has been constant since the news broke.
“I can’t turn around without the phone ringing,” he said. “Lots of support, tons of social media and emails ... people who we haven’t seen in decades, people who used to work here, guests that have been coming here for a million years and a lot of media folks. Lots of emails from people showing support.”
Platman opened her award-winning, eclectic Southfield restaurant in 1984, two years after she opened Sweet Lorraine’s Deli & Cafe in Madison Heights. Over the years, she’s had Sweet Lorraine’s restaurants in Ann Arbor and across southwestern Michigan.
The creative chef isn’t hanging up the apron. She’ll continue to be involved with her Mac n’ Brewz and Mac n’ Cheez locations, and a new Sweet Lorraine’s GameTime Grill restaurant is set to open this summer at the On the Dunes sports facility in Commerce Township. A cookbook is also on her mind.
She says the Southfield location has a special place in her heart, however.
“It is indeed bittersweet, with so many memories and millions of happy guests (over) the last four decades,” Platman said in a press release. “But I have to be realistic and do what is best for our staff and my health.”
Sussman says that with the announcement of the closure, the influx of well-wishes has made Platman “wistful.”
“She was really the first of her kind in our area,” he said. “She just offered people what she wanted. She was sort of the first chef to look for local ingredients, local suppliers, local growers, and they were hard to find back in the day.”
Sussman remembers visiting farmers markets with his wife decades ago before anyone had heard of heirloom tomatoes. “Everybody had the same stuff,” he said.
“Things in the culinary industry have changed 180 degrees over the last 30 to 35 years. It’s a different world now, but she’s plugging away here until the bitter end with great recipes.”
Platman may share those recipes — perhaps her famous Caesar salad with clams, gluten-free pecan chicken or vegetarian meatloaf — via a cookbook.
“She’s thinking about it,” said Sussman. “She has so many recipes that there’s too many to put on a menu in a restaurant. She’s hoping to be able to spend time sitting down for a while and writing a cookbook.”
After sending fresh, simple-yet-craveable dishes into the dining room for four decades, the consensus is she deserves a seat.
Sweet Lorraine’s Cafe & Bar, closing permanently June 25, is at 29101 Greenfield in Southfield. Call (248) 559-5985 for reserve seating. Reservations can be made in advance for parties of six or more.