Friday, March 29, 2013

[EID Feature] Smoked meats and wines on draft: Red Crown is not just another garage grill rehab

All photos by Nicole Rupersburg.

It's been called the Vinsetta Garage of the East by … well, by me, because that's just the sort of thing that I would say. But I do it in good fun, mostly because the comparisons between the recently-opened Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park and the smash hit two-hour-wait-all-day-every-day Vinsetta Garage in Berkley are inevitable and started immediately upon the announcement of Red Crown opening. Vinsetta is a comfort food, burgers and craft beer joint located in a historic old garage. Red Crown is a barbecue, wine and craft cocktail joint located in a historic old gas and service station.

Well. On second thought, maybe the two don't really lend themselves to comparison as much as it might have seemed – really the only common thread between the two is their respective ties to metro Detroit's automotive history (and let's just be real here: please go out and find me a historic building, the size of which is aptly-suited for a restaurant, that is not in some way connected to Detroit's automotive history … that isn't a church). Oh, and they both have mac and cheese on the menu because, you know, that's not common to see in these parts at all.

So let's just look at what Red Crown is instead of how it might compare to Vinsetta: Red Crown (named after the Standard Oil Red Crown Service Station it was once home to) is an all-American barbecue concept with an all-American menu and all-American beverage program.

Now, that doesn't mean that the speakers blare patriotic rawk favorites from the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bruce Springsteen and Kid Rock. (Think more Stevie Ray Vaughn and ZZ Top.) There's no steer horns on the wall (there is sort of a steer head, but it is plaster and painted black and looks more like an art piece send-up of Texas roadhouse chic). The décor is tasteful and understated, with the color red as the prominent theme.

Owner Mindy Lopus, who has been busy working on expansion plans for her Silver Pig Restaurant Group, wanted to make this more of a casual, comfortable restaurant, and something that was a totally new concept for the area. When she was approached by the Cottons – the family that owns Meridian Health Plan that has been buying up property in Grosse Pointe Park the way Dan Gilbert has done downtown in an effort to totally transform it – to open a restaurant in the area, she found an eager and underserved clientele and decided to open three. "People told me Grosse Pointers only go to their few favorite restaurants and their country clubs," Lopus says, but Red Crown has been packed every day since it opened. (I suppose, in that regard, it is also like Vinsetta.)

Red Crown is the first of the bunch, an upscale American barbecue and comfort food restaurant. In May, Bona Fide Baking Company will open as both a bakery and breakfast spot/café. Then this fall a second location of Lopus's flagship concept Tallulah Wine Bar + Bistro, which breaks ground in Grosse Pointe Park this week, will round out her trio.

Lopus is a savvy businesswoman and a Certified Wine Professional. Restaurateuring is a second career for her, but a first passion. Where other upscale barbecue concepts in metro Detroit (and yes, there are a few of them) focus their beverage program on craft beer, Lopus saw a unique opportunity to promote wine as a choice beverage for barbecue pairing.

“I’m really excited about this," she says. "Comfort food is the perfect food for wine pairing.” Because, think about it: comfort food tends to be high in fat, much like the cuisines typically aligned with wine – French food, American steakhouse fare, seafood in rich cream sauces, the heavy side of Italian cooking. If there has been a backlash against snooty wine connoisseurship in recent years, and there most certainly has been, part of that backlash has not only included a hard and fast embracing of craft beer but also a refusal to accept the idea that wine is only meant to be paired with a certain class of cuisine. Red Crown falls more heavily into the latter category (though those who opt for the former will not be disappointed with Red Crown's small but respectable craft beer list, or their ambitious craft cocktail program for that matter) with an ambitious wine program that includes – ye gods! – wine on draft.

In the last two or three years, sparkling wine has started popping up on menus throughout Michigan. (The first place I was introduced to the concept was Left Foot Charley in Traverse City, where winemaker Bryan Ulbrich was working up a draft system for one of the other area wineries based on his own draft system for ciders. This was early in 2011, and the concept was still entirely foreign.) Recently Local Kitchen + Bar in Ferndale made a splash when they introduced a bubbly by M. Lawrence (aka Michigan's esteemed sparkling winemaker Lawrence Mawby, based on the Leelanau Peninsula) on draft. But still wines on tap are STILL unheard of … until now.

Red Crown is the first restaurant in Michigan serving still wines on draft. The advantage? The wine is temperature-controlled, stays fresh down to the last glass, is never corked, and enables them to sell these wines by the glass for a much (MUCH) lower price than what you would otherwise pay if they were poured from a bottle. The keg is also refillable and creates less waste. Just as wine drinkers have adapted to synthetic corks and screw-top bottles over the last decade, even the fussiest among them finally recognizing the advantages in quality and economy both offer, they will now learn to embrace wine in kegs.

The wine list is organized by price as opposed to being organized by region or varietal. For wines on draft, a glass is $8, a half carafe $15, and a full carafe $29. Glasses are available in $8, $11 and $14 price points, and bottles are $29, $49 and $69. All of it is American, and each quarter one of Michigan's best wine producers is highlighted in their "In the Mitten" program.

Oh, and they also have an M. Lawrence bubbly on draft: "Sex," to be specific.

Chef de Cuisine Jim Delao's food menu is small but mighty (and meaty). Barbecued meats made in their wood-fired "little red smokehouse" in their kitchen, which burns local fruitwoods and mesquite charcoal. Ribs, sausages, pulled pork, pork shoulder and brisket, complemented by southern comfort sides like mac and cheese and braised greens (with bacon). Appetizers include masa-crusted onion rings and peel 'n eat Georgia shrimp. For "supper" there's comfort food favorites like shrimp and grits and grilled meatloaf. Non-alcoholic drinks include milkshakes and floats. Lunch, weekend brunch and Sunday support will start in April, and the massive patio is sure to be a massive hit this summer.

Want to see more? View the Flickr set here.

 Red Crown on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 28, 2013

[Real Detroit] Easter Candy (Detroit-Style)

Gayle's Chocolates.

If you gave up chocolate for Lent, get ready for the ultimate post-deprivation binge. If you didn't give up chocolate, or don't even observe Lent, well – still get ready for the ultimate binge, because these metro Detroit candy makers and bakers are in full-bore chocolate bunny (and beyond) production mode. Grab your pink plastic baskets, fill them up with neon green "grass" and stuff them full of chocolate bunnies, peanut butter eggs, marshmallow Peeps and jelly beans (the good kind, not those cheap crappy ones where half of them are licorice flavored). Your days of sacrifice are over and spring is here! EAT MOAR CHOCOLATE.

Read more.

[Real Detroit] Falling Down Beer Company

Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

Let's just get this out of the way: yes, there is a brewery opening in Warren that is called Falling Down Beer Company. Yes, this is actually its name. Yes, it is meant as a joke – an inside joke, in fact, referring to a time co-owner Mark Larson tripped after having a beer and his friends from that point forward forevermore would jokingly ask if he was "falling down drunk yet" after one beer.

So how's that for an origins story? Not quite X-Men: First Class, but as far as anecdotes go this will definitely be a good one to share with all of the new friends you will surely make once Falling Down Beer Company opens to the public on 3/29.

Read more.

[Real Detroit] Panache 447

Downtown Plymouth offers a burgeoning food scene with ample opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond, which is the reason father and son owners Robert and Blake Kolo decided to open Panache 447 in this location.

Speaking of big fish ... wait, we'll get to that.

Read more.

[Real Detroit] Epic

Note: I may be just a little bit making fun of the name here.

You know, the word "epic" gets tossed around quite a bit. And, it's like, not everything is "epic," you know? Not every Instagram photo is epic, not every Saturday night is epic. But every Saturday night can be epic at Epic Tavern and Grill in Novi!

While you might disagree with the idea of bar being named "Epic" in the first place – Is it too presumptuous? Too arrogant? Can it ever really live up to its own name? – this recently-opened mega bar in Novi probably comes as close as anything ever could.

Read more.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

[HOT LIST] Easter brunch

Lemon ricotta pancakes at Rodin in Detroit.

A list, for your holiday brunching enjoyment. A lot of copy/pasting happened so do forgive any formatting errors. (And halfway through putting this together I saw this post, but it's cool 'cuz I still managed to sneak a few in that the Freep missed.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

[Model D] SkyBar and Lounge now open on 33rd floor, previous ground floor space being renovated and expanded

Photo from SkyBar's Facebook page.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, "Sky Bar" was a bit of a misnomer, what with the bar and lounge being located on the ground floor of the David Stott Building in downtown Detroit.

"We are in the process of a rebranding," says Marshal Simons of Impakt Digital, community manager of SkyBar and Lounge. "When the owners first opened they were new at the bar industry and wanted to get in on the ground level of Detroit" … so to speak.

Read more.

[Model D] Bagger Dave's in Greektown moving forward after construction delay

Photo from Dig Downtown Detroit's FB page.
You may have seen the new vinyl banner that reads "Coming Soon!" with the Bagger Dave's logo that was hung over the weekend at 1224 Randolph Street next to the recently-opened Buffalo Wild Wings in Greektown. While the restaurant is still a long way out from opening, Southfield-based Diversified Restaurant Holdings, Inc. is moving forward with plans to open this as a Bagger Dave's despite some unforeseen setbacks.

After the lengthy Buffalo Wild Wings renovation that soared into the millions ($3.5 million for the renovation work alone; $5 million when factoring in other opening costs like purchasing equipment), Diversified is now focused on Bagger Dave's. This will be the first Bagger Dave's in Detroit and the fifth in metro Detroit. There are 12 locations total in Michigan and Indiana, and seven are planned to open this year.

Read more.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

via @eatitdetroit on Instagram
NAAAAAAAAAIN! (Also photo-spotting friends of EID!) Also, sheNAINigans. [MLive / Pure Detroit]

Happy Snowberon Day! (br)Oberon was released today. The groundhog may have been wrong but Oberon never is -- spring is on the way, really! And even though there was snow on the ground this morning, the sun is shining inside every metro Detroit beer store today! Now please enjoy my analysis of Oberon as the Gateway Beer. [EID]

Chef Kate Williams of Rodin took home the $7500 judge's prize while Andy Hollyday of Roast took home the $2500 People's Choice award at Detroit Harmonie's annual International Experience Top Chef: Coney Dogs contest for their inventive international takes on the classic Detroit coney. [EID FB]

This thread? Still going. If you'd like to meet the brain trust behind it, be sure to follow Detroit BBQ Co on Facebook and say hi to them at an upcoming event. [EID FB]

Ladies and gentlemen, I am the official R-Go blog of Detroit. Because I said so. Here is Mr. Gosling hugging on his biff Larry Mongo and some redhead (kiiiiilllherrrrrr). OMG, J/K!!! [D'Mongo's FB]

OMG, he also offered Larry a role in his film How to Catch a Monster! (Kiiiiiiillhiiiiiiiim.) [MLive]

Dostoyevsky and drinking. I support this. Ferndale Public Library will now be able to serve alcohol at special events. [C+G News]

There's been plenty of discussion of urban farming in Detroit (and plenty of cynicism to go with it), but until now the future of the urban farming has been dubious at best because of (not always enforced) legal restraints. With an EFM now in place this may or may not be City Council's swan song, but at least they got this one right. [WDET]

Sylvia Rector takes a look at the new chef and new menu at the Rugby Grille; Gastronomy's Brandon Zarb will compete for the Chaine des Rotisseurs' national Best Young Chef title in Chicago on June 8, and that Food Network show that's casting in Michigan with the prize of getting a year rent-free in a space in a Michigan mall? Yeah, it's called Food Court Wars and the mall is in Midland. Try to contain yourselves. [Freep]

Just call it Meaddale: here is an in-depth story on Schramm's Mead from The Ferndale 115, and why it's a pretty big deal that it's opening (and in Ferndale, the apparent mead capital of the Midwest, or at least southeastern Michigan). [Ferndale 115]

Let's never drive again. Uber is now in Detroit. [Thrillist]

Grace of India is now open. [HuffPo]

Beer. [Ashley's Westland Cask Ale Festival ... tickets on sale now!]

Sports. [Forbes]

Beer and sports. [DRAFT Mag]

Home-brewed beer (homebrewers get your apps in now!). [Rochester Patch]

Detroit's first ever (official) Nerd Nite is this Thursday at IFAD. Though really every night is nerd night in these parts, in case you hadn't noticed from the oddball fashion sense that dominates the social circuits and the plethora of Mac books lit up in every bar. [Detroit News]

Another Detroit-area restaurant mogul has passed away; Jim Hearn, your product may be "bad" but it tastes oh so good. So long and thank you for the flavored crusts. [Freep]

Sorry to miss this last weekend of the Rust Belt as it was, but I only had eyes for a little red devil this weekend. [Ferndale 115]

Detroit's hard-hitting experts on fuckery Wilson give their top picks for the best party bars in Michigan. [Noise Creep]

The Whitney has added weekday breakfast to their menu. [Detroit News]

Tokyo Sushi is now open in the former Pete's Place spot in Ferndale. [Ferndale Patch]

A history of Zingerman's at 31 years young (though we all know we stop counting after 30). [Michigan Daily]

#7: Buy tickets to a beer release and/or wait in line for several hours for a beer release and/or participate in a lottery ticketing system for a beer release and/or buy a bottle of a limited beer release on eBay for $100 or more. Wait, no; that in fact sucks. Can we please stop the beer geek train from chugging full-bore to Douchetown? (Oh hey, shout-out to Right Brain!) [Food Republic]

Traverse City is another best-something. [Fodor's]

Friday, March 22, 2013

[EID Feature] Have Beer, Will Travel: Falling Down Beer Company Opens March 29

All photos by Nicole Rupersburg.

One of the things that has particularly impressed me about Falling Down Beer Company is not their beer. I haven't even had any of it yet. In fact, hardly anyone has, save for a few mug club members and friends and family of the owners. What has impressed me is the strong following they've been able to build – over 3,700 followers on Facebook alone – before they even opened their doors.

There is a lot of talk in the media about the power of social media for small businesses. Some of it is pat; puerile even. As one media friend of mine has noted, careers in social media are the new pyramid scheme: one social media expert teaches others who want to teach others how to be social media experts and then you just Tweet social media tips to people who then re-tweet them to their followers, and so on. It's a silly reality of our nü economy and one that has yet to be fully vetted for its long-term reliability as both marketing tool and career plan, as there has yet to be a social media platform that has proven itself to be long-term sustainable. Will people flee Facebook the way they mass-exited MySpace when things just got too Blingee? Only time will tell.

But in the here and now of 2013, Facebook is arguably the best way to build and reach an audience. And Falling Down Beer Co. has been able to do that exceedingly well, considering they're not even open yet.

When I sat down to talk with co-owner Mark Larson about how exactly he was able to amass such a strong following in advance of opening their doors, I found out that Larson actually has a marketing degree, though he currently works in IT (in addition to now owning a brewery). "I'm the sole marketer [of Falling Down]. I'm actually using the degree I've never used!" he jokes.

His strategy was pretty intuitive: get friends and family to like the page first. Then he spent $100 on Facebook ads targeted to over-21 craft beer drinkers in Warren and surrounding areas. He started liking and interacting with other brewery pages, reached out to the journalists and beer bloggers, posted to fan pages like the Detroit Red Wings and 97.1 to increase visibility to other potential fans (and Warren is definitely a Red Wings/97.1 kind of town). The rest has all been keeping their Facebook community constantly updated with photos of the bar in progress, the brewing process, the building permit, photos and regular updates to engage their audience. All in all they spent $100 (from which they got about 500 new fans) and are already a known name in the southeastern Michigan craft beer community without even tapping their first public keg.

Another innovative strategy they implemented prior to opening was selling mug club "founding members" memberships in advance of opening. Founding memberships weren't cheap ($125) but the 82 people who bought one received a lot of incentives other mug club programs don't offer, including six growler fills, T-shirts, and invitations to private events. (The mug clubbers, most of which live in or near Warren, have already tried the Ninja Chicken and Beaver beers.) And there was also an Indiegogo campaign early last summer, too.

Mark Larson (left) and George Lang, owners of Falling Down Beer Co.
Mark and his founding partner George Lang (who also works a day job in IT) started out as homebrewers. Their home-brewed beers gained a following amongst their friends and family and they started getting requests for kegs, so it made sense to start a brewery. "IT started as a hobby, so now I'm working two hobbies!" says Mark. As the saying goes, do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life. (It also helps that Mark and George are both telecommuters, which is an ideal situation for anyone trying to juggle multiple careers at once – take it from someone who does exactly that.)

During their due diligence phase, they reached out to several cities. Warren happened to offer the best location, an old ice cream shop and diner (that looks like it was probably a Big Boy's before that) located right by the Hazel Park racetrack. It's not glamorous, because nothing in Warren is, but there is an established base of beer geek culture here that cannot be denied – Kuhnhenn Brewing Company and Dragonmead Microbrewery, both also located in Warren, have a devout following, and despite the fact that neither of them produce enough beer for any level of significant distribution, both are known names in craft beer throughout the Midwest region and are multi-time national award winning breweries.

In fact, when Mark started doing his research, he actually found the location to be quite ideal. "I used Short's in Bellaire and Witch's Hat in South Lyon as case studies," he says. "Look at Witch's Hat: they're in South Lyon and hard to get to, but they had a line out the door for the first three months. It was crazy. I knew so many people who ran out there and made the trip [just to check it out]. And there's Dark Horse in Marshall, in the middle of nowhere, and it's always packed."

Agreed. Beeries have most certainly established "Have beer, will travel" as a code of ethics.

"We also liked this spot because it's right off the freeway, it's a straight shot to Ferndale, and Chrysler and GM are nearby." Warren is also metro Detroit's largest suburb and the third largest city (by population) in Michigan. Bottom line: there's plenty of thirsty people out there.

Falling Down Beer Company opens to the public on Friday, March 29. In next week's issue of Real Detroit Weekly I'll have more information for you about the beer they'll be serving (like the Ninja Chicken and Beaver beers noted above), the origin of their name, their long-term plans for distribution and their commitment to all things Michigan-made, but I do so very much hate to repeat myself so you'll just have to keep your peepers peeled for that.

Want to see more? View the Flickr set here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

[NEWS BITES] The Root to open second location in Howell, renovating historic movie theatre

Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

After a previous deal fell through, the Root Restaurant and Bar in White Lake has finalized the purchase of the Howell Theatre, located in downtown Howell, for a second location of their popular modern Michiganian restaurant.

The Howell Theatre is a historic structure, built in 1927, and an iconic landmark in downtown Howell. The Root owner Ed Mamou has purchased the entire building, including the apartments above, and will be renovating the whole structure (including those apartments, for super-fans of the Root who might want to have the restaurant as their de facto lobby). "We're going to dump a ton of money into downtown Howell," says Executive Chef James Rigato, who grew up in Howell right across the street from the theatre. "You could see the marquee from my bedroom window!"

Howell is another one of those adorable Michigan downtowns that is the very picture of picturesque. Much like the Root's original location in White Lake, a location that certainly fell under some scrutiny when they first opened, the Howell restaurant will likely raise some eyebrows. Why not Detroit, Ann Arbor, Royal Oak, Birmingham -- the social and cultural centers of southeastern Michigan where all the other restaurants are?

Because that's where all the other restaurants are.

The Root's success in the far-flung northern suburb of White Lake has demonstrated that destination dining WILL bring people out of their normal comfort zones and even act as a catalyst for further development in an area that could really benefit from that extra bit of attention. 

"Downtown Howell reminds me of Clarkston or Milford before [restaurants like the Clarkston Union or Five Lakes Grill] opened," says James, referring to their small town Main Street charm and all-local clientele. "This is a restaurant that will make a splash and hopefully bring more businesses to the area." 

He sees a lot of similarities between Howell and White Lake, and a lot of opportunity to repeat the same success they've had with the White Lake location. "There's people with money ... it's not this tiny shithole town." (Which isn't to say that only people with money are welcome; rather that the outsider perception of these being "redneck" rural cities is simply, egregiously, wrong.)

Also, being a Michigan chef using Michigan products is James's biggest passion and the thing he is most proud of and most excited about as a chef. Being in cities like White Lake and Howell, which are surrounded by farmland, enables him to be close to the source of much of his product. "We basically open restaurants where food comes from."

James has some big plans for the new restaurant. He wants this to be a multi-faceted dining experience -- catering, banquets, a "really cool bar" that offers more of the nightlight experience. While plans are still very much in the early stages, he's even considering keeping the projector and throwing kung fu dance parties. And he definitely plans on keeping the "badass" marquee.

In keeping with that movie theme, James says, "This is basically Terminator 2. We've got the big cameras and the big budget now." The Root Howell will be a bigger, better, flashier version of the original. 

The theatre will continue operation for the next two or three months, and then renovation work will begin. James expects the project will take nine months to a year, though that is of course an estimate -- they'll know more once they actually dig into the structure itself and see how much work really needs to be done. 

Earlier this month James was a finalist for Food and Wine's "Best New Chef: Great Lakes" for 2013. (Though he did not win, he was the only chef from Michigan even nominated.) Since opening in May 2011, the Root has been named Restaurant of the Year by the Detroit Free Press, and most recently filmed a full-length episode for a new show premiering this year on the Cooking Channel.

[Real Detroit Weekly] Marche du Nain Rouge

Photo from Facebook.

It has been called Detroit's answer to Mardi Gras. This is wrong. The Marche du Nain Rogue is not Detroit's answer to Mardi Gras. It is not Detroit's answer to anything. This is Detroit: we answer to no one.

Well, no one except for the Nain Rouge.

The Nain Rouge is Detroit's little red devil, a crimson-colored dwarf said to be a harbinger of doom that has tormented the city for over three centuries starting with one of its founders. He is rumored to have been seen at the site of each of Detroit's most catastrophic events throughout history. In an effort to rid themselves of his curse, the Detroiters of yore would "banish" him in a ceremonial march held before the spring solstice, ridding the city of his malevolent influence until the following winter.

Read more.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

[Model D] MotorCity Wine moving to Corktown this fall

Detroit's MotorCity Wine, currently at 608 Woodward Avenue on the second floor above Foran's Grand Trunk Pub and Foran's Deluxe Diner in downtown Detroit, is relocating this fall to the space currently inhabited by the Express Bar in Corktown. The new address will be 1949 Michigan Avenue.

Read more.

Monday, March 18, 2013

[NEWS BITES] Royal Oak to Welcome Monk: Belgian Beer Abbey, Craft and Bastone Brewery expansion this Spring

Remember when I first told you about Monk back in December? Well, here is the full press release (including more news about Bastone expanding and basement lounge Commune being re-branded as Craft), which you are probably about to see get re-posted a LOT.

Something big is brewing at the corner of Fifth and Main streets in downtown Royal Oak this spring. Restaurants that have won over customers for years are transforming or expanding – all in the name of craft beer.

Café Habana will make way for Monk, a Belgian Beer Abbey. Commune Lounge will become Craft, and Bastone Brewerywill expand to two levels. Vinotecca will feature a new wine and food menu. All locations are part of Union Brewery, LLC., whose owners invested $300,000 to make these changes possible and to improve the overall experience at each venue. All three projects are expected to be completed and open spring 2013.

On Feb. 24, and after nine successful years, Café Habana closed its doors, allowing the owners to develop the space as Monk.

“It wasn’t without hesitation that we closed Café Habana,” said David Ritchie, operating partner, Union Brewery, LLC. “Café Habana has always had very solid sales, but we decided to move forward with our plan to strengthen the Belgian theme that Bastone Brewery was built on.”

Loyal Café Habana customers can look forward to future plans that include a new, bigger space elsewhere in Royal Oak.

In the meantime, newcomer Monk will offer a deep, rich monastery feel with wood that will reach 10 feet high along its walls. A lantern style lighting package will accentuate the natural color scheme.

Monk will follow a similar layout to Café Habana, but will feature new banquettes and tables. Other changes include: new doorways, an expanded kitchen, a new sit-down counter and flat screen TV’s.

Seating capacity will remain the same inside, but Monk will add a new outdoor patio with 36 seats along Fifth Street.

Monk’s menu will offer unique chef-created burgers, mussels, frites, and waffle sandwiches. In addition to serving Bastone Brewery’s Belgian style craft beer, guests can expect an extensive bottled Belgian beer list as well as French wine selections.  Monk will open every day at 4 p.m. for dinner only.

Next door, the Bastone Brewery expansion will add 1,500 square feet to Bastone’s floor plan in the space along Fifth Street on two levels. The main floor expansion will add six tables for guests, and the second floor, which will overlook Bastone’s bar, will have a capacity of 20. It will be designated for private parties.

To celebrate the expansion, Bastone Brewery has released new imagery for its six signature beers on tap, which will be featured in new advertising, branding, social media, merchandise and apparel.

Located beneath Bastone Brewery, the venue, currently known as Commune Lounge, will soon be renovated and re-emerge as Craft. The new concept aims to create a hip 1970s look and feel. Imagine vintage record players, bicycles, Edison bulbs, wallpaper, wood panels and a fresh color scheme.  Additionally, a wall of old speakers will be installed behind the bar to add to the whimsical basement vibe.

Craft will feature a new stage for live music on Wednesday and Thursday nights; and will continue to welcome a DJ Friday and Saturday nights.

“We want it to embody the craft of musicians as well as the craft of beer, spirits and unique cocktails,” said David Ritchie.

Craft, in addition to keeping absinthe on the menu, will serve an array of exclusive craft beer cocktails, craft spirits -  such as Civilized - a full bar, Bastone beer and more.

New websites and social media networks are in progress to be launched for each venue.

Of note, Vinotecca Wine Bar will remain as it is, but will offer a new menu this year.

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

Hey girl(s). Ryan Gosling is apparently not Irish-minded and also likes bad coffee. [MLive]

Neil Patrick Harris says Polish Village Cafe is legen...wait for it... [@ActuallyNPH Twitter]

Whatever thread I recently dubbed "the greatest comment thread in EID's history"? Has been forever replaced by this: Welcome to the Bob and Timmy Show. This is the thread that deserves its own Facebook fan page.
It started with this: "Looks like I can't go drinking in Ferndale for the next 3 months. (What? Don't act like you don't get down on some drunken Taco Bell.)" [Ferndale 115 / EID FB]
Will the Great American Stuffed Burger Co. be the next big thing for Garden Fresh Salsa? It would certainly seem so. Read on about this $100-million+ company's planned for its newest product launch. [Crain's]

Detroit Restaurant Week returns April 19-28 and has a snazzy new look to go with it! Produced by Paxahau and presented by Shinola, this is the fourth spring edition of the popular 10-day dining event. Three new establishments have joined the spring Detroit Restaurant Week event this year, including Greektown Casino Hotel’s flagship Brizola, the freshly-updated formerly Mosaic space Santorini Estiatorio Detroit in Greektown, and the Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria + Cucina at the MGM Grand Detroit.  [DRW / EID FB]

Things just keep getting bigger and better for the boys behind Pizzeria Biga: not only is a third location set to open in A2 while they continue looking at additional sites, but they've also got a vineyard and microdistillery in the works. [Crain's]

Thrillist got a first look at the newly-opened Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park. [Thrillist]

Bill's Beer Garden in A2 has reopened for the season and Treat Dreams also reopened with a grand unveiling of their newly-expanded space. [BBG FB / TD FB]

"Unexpected" isn't really the right word, as this has been pretty openly discussed for awhile now and it sounded like the old owners wanted out anyway, but it's officially official: Janet's Lunch has closed. The Cotton family, who are pushing the development of Grosse Pointe Park, own the building and plan on keeping it a "greasy spoon" diner. [GP Patch]

Eastern Market sets the standard of a model regional food system. [QC Times]

We love the food at St. Cece's. We also love when they bring in other people's food. Check out their Tuesday night pop-up series, featuring a different pop-up concept every week. [Detroit News]

The Detroit-based Three Olives of soda, Faygo Beverages Inc., now has "ginger soda" called Faygo Gold, which is, of course, a Vernors knock-off. [MLive]

Dominick's is now open for the season! (It's an Ann Arbor thing.) []

Was ist dis "biz-niss plan?" Turns out you need one. ("ZOMGZ KICKSTARTERYOUGUYS!" doesn't count.) Here are some resources for that. [Good]

~Here's a nice story from on Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. and their plans to expand (enabling them to significantly increase distribution), which are moving along quite nicely (and that be an insider insight). []

~No list of the strangest beers in the world would be complete without Shorts Brewing Company. [Bon Appetit] praises the farmhouse ales at Brewery Vivant. []

~The secret to Buffalo Wild Wings' success? Beer. [HuffPo]