Pop-up restaurants coming to McNamara building

Stephanie Steinberg
The Detroit News

Employees at the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building on the corner of Cass and Michigan avenues will have a new lunch option starting Tuesday.

A company called GuestRaunt (which stands for “guest restaurant”) will bring Metro Detroit restaurants to the building’s basement once a week, so employees and anyone in the public can grab lunch.

The building at 477 Michigan Ave. will be one of several locations the company hopes to cater in, pop-up style. The goal is to feature established brick-and-mortar restaurants in buildings that don’t have cafeterias or food service. The 1-million square-foot McNamara building, which houses several federal agencies and occupies a full city block, doesn’t offer food.

Co-founder Mark Dansbury, of St. Clair Shores, says GuestRaunt is a win-win for everyone.

“It gives the restaurants an opportunity to show what they can offer, and it saves people the time and energy of having to leave their office to get their favorite foods. GuestRaunt brings it right to them,” he says.

The first restaurant at the McNamara building will be Woodpile BBQ Shack from Clawson on Tuesday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Owner Scott Moloney says the menu will include pulled pork, chicken sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, sausage, coleslaw and cornbread. Maloney also owns Treat Dreams in Detroit and Ferndale and will sell ice cream for lunchgoers who want dessert with the barbecue fare. His other restaurant, Atomic Chicken in Clawson, will participate in a few weeks.

Other restaurants in the rotation include Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, Oasis Mediterranean Cuisine, Noodles & Company, Piada Italian Street Food.

Given that there’s no kitchen in the basement of the McNamara building, Moloney says the food will come already prepared.

“It will be more like a catering gig where the restaurants are bringing in the food hot and kept warm,” he says.

Tables and chairs will also be set up for areas without seating.

Before starting GuestRant, Dansbury, an executive chef, and his partner Jim Foley worked at Aramark, which manages food services for universities, hospitals and companies like General Motors.

Since launching in Detroit earlier this year, Dansbury says they’ve brought 30 mom and pop local restaurants and national brands to offices, manufacturing sites and federal buildings, with the goal of giving restaurants new venues to serve their food.

“It helps them grow their business and creates this opportunity for them that they didn’t have in their restaurants, because a lot of restaurants at lunch times are very slow,” he says.

They’ve submitted a proposal to bring GuestRaunt to the Federal Reserve Building at 160 W. Fort St. — owned by Dan Gilbert and the location of The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press — which doesn’t offer food service, Dansbury says.


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