Renovated Caucus Club expected to open this weekend

The 155-seat fine-dining restaurant will serve steaks, seafood and a revamped version of the famed bullshot drink

Melody Baetens, The Detroit News
  • The restaurant seats 155, including a 25-seat private dining area
  • The original owners of the London Chop House opened the Caucus Club in 1952
  • The new Caucus Club will serve dry-aged steaks, seafood and a table-side Caesar salad
  • Proprietor George Sboukis’ family owns Louis’ Chop House in Chesterfield

 

The renovated Caucus Club, which closed in 2012 after 60 years, could reopen as soon as Friday. It will include a 25-seat private dining space.

After months of delays, the storied Caucus Club is ready for its second act. The revamped restaurant in the Penobscot Building in downtown Detroit is expected to open this weekend.

“We’re anticipating opening here very, very soon,” said owner George Sboukis, who plans to go to Lansing on Wednesday and get the liquor license, then open the iconic restaurant to the public as soon as Friday.

Caucus Club owner George Sboukis, right, and his son, Anthony Harris, stand in the dining room of the renovated Caucus Club, which could open as soon as Friday.

Early reports had the famed restaurant — known for inventing the popular bullshot drink and for once hosting a rising singer named Barbra Streisand in the early 1960s — shooting to reopen in May of 2016, but the renovations took longer than expected.

Sboukis has enlisted executive chef Rick Hussey to run the kitchen and oversee the menu, which includes dry-aged steaks, a raw bar, prime rib and seafood. The Caesar salad ($10) will be tossed tableside on a handsome wooden cart.

Meat cuts will vary from a 32-ounce tomahawk ribeye chop ($89) to a 8-10 ounce cut of prime rib served with au ju and horseradish ($22). Steak add-ons include béarnaise sauce, demi glace or zip sauce, or compound butters made with truffle, garlic, herbs, gorgonzola bleu cheese, smoked bacon and onion.

Chef Hussey has worked at acclaimed (but now closed) Detroit restaurant Intermezzo and was most recently the chef at Filippa’s Wine Barrel in Utica.

Bar manager Mike Kreger will update the classic bullshot to be made with homemade beef stock and Italian gin (the original recipe called for vodka). Along with the bullshot, live music will return. The restaurant has a small stage for jazz pianists and possibly singers, too.

Visually, the 155-seat, 6,000-square-foot restaurant on Congress looks much different than it did when it closed in 2012 after 60 years of service.

Wendy Silverman, a designer at Scott Shuptrine Interiors, decked out the steakhouse with royal blues, grays and whites, plus iron accents with an art deco look. The bar was restored using marble from other parts of the building. A corner phone booth and glass display case the reads “the Juggery” is still in place from the old days. Sboukis has a vintage pay phone that he plans to install in the booth.

Sboukis told The Detroit News in April that he’s going for a hospitality-orientated, old-school approach to the restaurant because he says “classic never goes out of style.”

“I want to build friendships,” he said of his new clientele. His open approach to the restaurant continues with the layout, which includes a kitchen that is visible through large windows leading to the hallway of the Penobscot Building.

Sboukis is a second-generation restaurateur. After immigrating from Greece, his parents opened the Riviera Coffee House near Olympia Arena in the 1950s. His family owns Louis’ Chop House in Chesterfield currently. This is Sboukis’ first endeavor on his own.

“They’re a little nervous for me,” he said, adding that he has their full support.

The family tradition is being passed down to the next generation. Sboukis’ son Anthony Harris, 19, will be working with him at the Caucus Club, doing a little bit of everything.

“I’m kind of all over the place,” said Harris, who has been working with Sboukis since he was 11 or 12. He describes the family business as stressful but says he enjoys it.

“I like communicating with people and satisfying people in any way you can accommodate them ... it’s beautiful really, it’s like an art, especially when you get to work in an establishment like this. I’m looking forward to it.”

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2402

Twitter: @melodybaetens

The bar at the renovated Caucus Club, which is inside the Penobscot Building on Congress in downtown Detroit.

The Caucus Club

150 W. Congress

Detroit

Call (313) 965-4970 for reservations.