Lovers Only opens Friday in Detroit’s Capitol Park
Lovers Only may sound like a place to pick up lacy unmentionables, but it's actually a new Capitol Park restaurant with a focus on savory burgers, sandwiches and hospitality.
Menu highlights include the Burlington, a six-ounce beef patty custom-blended just for the restaurant that is smothered in cheddar sauce, twice-cooked onions, relish, lettuce and dijonnaise.
Restaurateur Eli Boyer says with the name Lovers Only, he wanted to convey care and compassion.
“When we’re talking about service and hospitality in our restaurants, love is the term that comes up,” he said. “We’re nice people, we like to serve nice people and we want a place that’s welcoming and open. When it comes to branding, having a name that is a little polarizing and can make people think a certain way can be a good thing. We want people to remember.”
Lovers Only – which is set to open Friday in Detroit’s Capitol Park at Grand River and Griswold – seats about 80 and has a well-edited menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads, beer, cocktails and soft drinks.
Natural lighting floods the retro-inspired dining room, which is a mix of low tables and booth seating. There’s also some counter seating and options for larger parties. A a mint-sage green nook with a large globe light holds two booths, and is backed by vintage-looking wallpaper.
“We’re trying to take the quick-service format and add more layers to it to make it feel more full-service,” said Boyer. “You’ll order at the counter and get a number and sit down, but then from there a server’s going to pick you up if you want to order more drinks or get more food.”
Boyer and chefs Justin Tootla and Jennifer Jackson are also the team behind the popular shoebox-sized seafood restaurant Voyager in Ferndale.
That’s not the only Ferndale connection. Farm Field Table in Ferndale is where Lovers Only gets their own blend of beef for the burger patties.
Another local meat source is Sy Ginsberg which can be found in the Recession Dog – a Chicago-style hotdog – and the Bodega, a sandwich with bologna, white cheddar, egg, mayo and mustard.
“The menu is designed to be very nostalgic,” said Boyer. “Our chefs have a story behind every creation that they come up with, whether at Voyager or here. We all kind of have a little story.”
For example, he says, the Fast Eddie is a loose-meat burger that Jen’s dad used to make for her. The Bodega is a version of a one-dollar sandwich that she would pick up when she was in culinary school because it worked with her student budget.
Besides the Chicago-style dog and loose-meat sandwich, another menu item with blue collar flair is the Bitter South, a Waffle House-esque burger on rye with Emmental cheese, hash browns, southern comeback sauce and fried onions.
The menu also has a vegetarian sandwich: the Green Street. An Impossible Burger – which is made from wheat protein, coconut oil and other plant-based ingredients – is served with white cheddar, ice burger lettuce and a parsley and shallot butter.
To wash the burgers down, beverage director Michael Finsilver has crafted a drink menu that includes draft cocktails including house punch, a light and refreshing spicy margarita and a draft negroni. Other cocktails include basics like vodka and soda, gin and tonic and rum and coke. Beer options range from Belgian white beer Wittekerke on tap to Stroh’s in a can.
Basil lemonade and a crisp lime and coriander soda are offered as non-alcohol options, along with Mexican coke and other pop.
Burgers and sandwiches will run $7-$9 and sides like salads, fries and onion rings are $3-$6.
The beef burgers use six ounces of meat, making them just the right size to eat in one sitting, but are big enough to withstand cutting in half for sharing.
Lovers Only is at 34 Grand River in Detroit. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun. Visit loversonlydetroit.com.