Two Royal Oak restaurants undergoing transformations
- Cantina Diablo's will close Aug. 1 to begin the transition into Diamonds Steak & Seafood
- Red Fox will continue to operate with a refreshed menu, and will later become Pinky's
Two Royal Oak restaurants will be transforming into different concepts over the next few months.
Restaurateur Adam Merkel will take over Kramer Restaurant Group businesses Cantina Diablo's and its upstairs bar, Red Fox English Pub, next month. Merkel, who owns Cello Italian Restaurant, the Silver Pig and Diamonds Steak & Seafood in Howell, says he will close the cantina on Aug. 1 and transform it into a second Diamonds Steak & Seafood.
The airy pub Red Fox will continue to operate with a revamped menu through the summer. Once Diamonds Royal Oak is ready, Merkel will close Red Fox and turn it into Pinky's, a rooftop joint with a lush garden, lots of greenery — and maybe a fountain — serving craft cocktails and small plates.
"A really fun place to gather, very social place to try exciting and new twists on different dishes and fun cocktails," Merkel said of his vision for Pinky's.
Merkel says he and Brian Kramer, owner of Cantina Diablo's and Red Fox, are longtime friends and Kramer will stay involved financially. However, Merkel is taking full control. Merkel said that while the location is "phenomenal," the existing concepts didn't really work.
Both restaurants are located at 100 S. Main in Royal Oak.
"No concerns at all really," he said. "Royal Oak is putting a huge investment into the city with a tremendous amount of parking that they're adding, there's nothing but positive changes," Merkel said. "I think with any big upgrade like that it can be a little stressful in that situation, but I think it forces the restaurant to be more of a destination restaurant and if you're not, it's going to be hard to make it."
He added: "I think the future for Royal Oak is huge."
Merkel says his Royal Oak Diamonds Steak & Seafood will be "a little bit more urban" version of the original. His place in Howell serves an upscale menu with vegetarian and gluten-free options, Sunday brunch, a good variety of salads, steaks, seafood and pasta.