Granite City Food & Brewery rolls into Ren Cen

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

As downtown Detroit’s workforce and residency numbers continue to swell, places for people to dine and hang out have followed suit.

The latest addition to the downtown dining scene is Granite City Food & Brewery, a Minnesota-based “polished casual” chain opening Wednesday in the northwest corner of the Renaissance Center.

Granite City is known for pub grub like flat bread pizza, wings, nachos, French onion soup and also steaks and seafood.

Granite City beer labels span the gamut of craft beer styles. The signature collection includes Batch 1000, a double IPA, Broad Axe Stout, Prairie Vixen wheat beer, an American lager named the Northern, and others.

The chain’s patented brewing process starts at an off-premise central location in Iowa, and once it’s past the mashing stage, the wort is shipped to Granite City locations to complete the fermentation process. At each Granite City restaurant, the wort is warmed and fermented in a large tank for 3-7 days, depending on the style of beer. The tanks are visible from the dining area through a window.

The Ren Cen’s Granite City will be the third in Michigan — there are restaurants in Troy and Northville — and the 35th nationwide. The Troy location, which opened in 2012, was named the restaurant group’s Restaurant of the Year this week.

DETROIT - FEBRUARY 5: Server Carlton Davis straightens tableware in front of windows showing the beer brewing tanks from the dining area at the new Granite City Food & Brewery Friday, February 5, 2016 at the Ren Cen in Detroit. (Photo by Bryan Mitchell/Special to Detroit News)

The Detroit location won’t just be a carbon copy of the others, though. The company invested in focus group research to determine what the downtown Detroit customers were after.

“Focus groups revealed that a lot of people want to eat out for lunch, but feel there isn’t enough time in the day to get away for a sit-down meal,” Rob Doran, chief executive officer of Granite City, said in a release. To remedy this, diners can call in their order in advance and enjoy it at the table to minimize spending half the lunch hour ordering and waiting.

The Detroit Granite City will have a beer that won’t be available at any other locations, the 48243 Double IPA. Named after the Renaissance Center’s zip code, the limited edition brew is their Batch 1000 Double IPA infused with Spanish cedar.

The Ren Cen location has 16,000 square feet of floor space, an entrance off Jefferson and seating for groups large and small, for business or partying. There are 450 seats inside, 175 on an outdoor patio, three private dining areas and bar seating with USB and electrical outlets.

“We’ve known that for years that (the Ren Cen) had something missing in the middle,” said Claudia Killeen, Renaissance Center development manager. “We had the high end restaurants with Joe Muer and Andiamo and Coach Insignia that are very successful, we had the food court, but we didn’t have a mid-price place where you could go for an affordable lunch.”

Killenn said that the people who work in the Renaissance Center has asked for a place where they could meet after work for a beer that wasn’t in a hotel bar or a fine dining restaurant.

“This is going to fit a niche that has been requested for a long time.”

Detroit native John Knox, who has 25 years in the industry, was brought in as executive chef of Granite City’s downtown restaurant. General manager Bruce Paine is from their Sioux Falls, South Dakota, location and brewing director RJ Nab oversees the beer-making at all locations, including Detroit.

Granite City Food & Brewery

100 Renaissance Center, Suite 1101, Detroit

(313) 309-9120

Opening Wednesday

Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Mon.-Sat. and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun. Kitchen closes one hour before closing