10 Detroit area restaurant openings and re-openings to watch for in 2020
Two chef-driven concepts in Milwaukee Junction are on the way, as is the return of Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles
The trays of holiday cookies are gone, the leftovers have been wrapped up and dispersed and the last of the Christmas Champagne has been consumed.
You're probably not thinking about food right now. That's too bad, because here I am to shine a light on the new bars and restaurants that are expected to open in 2020.
I think the trends this year are going to be more national fast-casual brands, pizza and hopefully the expansion of more locally-based chains. We'll also see some hotly anticipated chef-driven restaurants in neighborhoods such as Milwaukee Junction, and there are also at least two Detroit restaurants scheduled to re-open in early 2020.
Michigan &Trumbull: This Detroit-style pizzeria popped-up for a few months inside Fort Street Galley in downtown Detroit, but is just about ready to debut in its permanent home at the crossroads for which it's named. Expect red and white sauce pizza, thick and cheesy, plus fried calzones called "Boblo boats" as early as next week. I'm told beer/liquor service will come at a later date. 1441 W. Elizabeth, Detroit. michiganandtrumbull.pizza.
Bobcat Bonnie's: From its first Corktown location in 2015, this colorful and hip neighborhood watering hole has expanded to locations in Ferndale, Wyandotte, Ypsilanti and soon Macomb County. The latest Bobcat Bonnie's will serve brunch, lunch and dinner as soon as February at the Mall at Partridge Creek where Max & Erma's, which closed Tuesday, was at 17330 Hall in Clinton Township. Owner Matthew Buskard said he will extend offers of employment to all former Max & Erma's staff members. bobcatbonnies.com.
Freya and Dragonfly: I expect these to be the most anticipated pair of restaurants to open in the city proper this year, at least among those we are expecting. Chartreuse Kitchen and Cocktails owner Sandy Levine and chef Doug Hewitt are planning a dual concept in the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood. Levine said he wants Freya to "push the envelope" and have a chef-driven tasting menu, while Dragonfly will be a more casual space with an interesting bar including low-alcohol and no-alcohol cocktails. Find them this year at Beaubien and E. Grand Blvd.
Oak and Reel: Also in this neighborhood, chef Jared Gadbaw plans to open an Italian restaurant this spring with a focus on seafood with house-made pasta and a wood-burning hearth. Gadbaw is a Michigan native and an alum of Michigan State University, but has been doing big things in New York City, working with award-winning chef Michael White. 2921 East Grand, Detroit.
Barcade Detroit: This city has arcade bars, and soon we'll have a Barcade, a 15-year-old chain of such hangouts that has locations in other cool spots such as Brooklyn, Philly and Los Angeles. Expect bar food, draft beer and cocktails and lots of vintage and new games as early as March. 666 Selden, Detroit. barcadedetroit.com.
Bucharest Grill: The famed shawarma makers will expand to its first location outside of Detroit proper this year when it opens this spring in Royal Oak. The suburban Bucharest will be at 13 Mile and Woodward in the Woodward Corners development. bucharestgrill.com.
Saucy Brew Works: This brewery and brewpub is readying to open this spring in Brush Park, on Alfred Lane in Bedrock Detroit's City Modern residence. The Ohio-based brewery uses a precision, German-engineered system called BrauKon that reduces waste and uses stainless steel from the brewing tanks to the draft lines. The food menu will be similar to itsCleveland location, which has pizzas called "apizza," stone oven-baked wings and other small pates, plus sandwiches and salads. Brush Park, Detroit. saucybrewworks.com.
ImaginATE: Chef Omar Mitchell's Table No. 2 has been a talker around town since it opened in April on Detroit's Avenue of Fashion. Now the expertly trained chef is gearing up to launch another dining destination which he says will be "social media driven." He's hoping to open this month with wild serving ideas like giant forks, popcorn shrimp served in a mini popcorn machine and other accessories that will make diners want to take their cell phones out. Ramada by Windham Southfield, 28100 Franklin, Southfield.
Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles re-opening: This hot spot on Detroit's Avenue of Fashion decided to close and renovate while the street and sidewalks out front were also getting an overhaul. It's been a construction project that has plagued many businesses on that strip. The neighborhood destination, which has all-day breakfast, is shooting for a February return and is now hiring staff. 19345 Livernois, Detroit. kuzzoschickenandwaffles.com.
Founders Brewing Company re-opening: This Michigan beer-maker's Detroit taproom closed in the fall of 2019 after details of a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by en ex-employee leaked and made national news. Weeks of controversy ensued, and Founders closed the taproom temporarily and agreed to pay employees while it was closed at least through the end of the year (they also settled the lawsuit). When Founders' Detroit taproom re-opens in early 2020, the company will donate 100% of profits to Detroit charities and community organizations through at least 2022, which could be about $2 million. 456 Charlotte, Detroit. (313) 335-3440.