The interior of what will soon be Republic boasts lighting fixtures, furniture, and even glassware behind the long bar, but finishing touches are still underway as the restaurant prepares to open sometime in January 2015.
Chef Kate Williams tells Eater Detroit that while the lunch and dinner menus have been set, they have yet to choose an official opening date for Republic, the more upscale of her two new restaurants in the G.A.R. Building. The second restaurant, a diner called Parks and Rec, should open a month or so after Republic.
The restaurants have been nearly three years in the making, but Williams has stayed true to her visions of tavern and diner. She says she recently went through her original notes from her first meeting with the building's owners, and that while they considered changes throughout the process, it's all come back around to those initial concepts.
One major part of her concept was keeping the food as local as possible, and she's staying true to that despite the winter openings. Williams said she always knew it would be a lot of work, but she's confident that seasonal produce like squash and cabbage, augmented with local greenhouse grown vegetables, will keep diners happy, even if the first menu won't be featuring summer fare like tomatoes and fresh basil.
The menu at Republic will be meat-centric, and what the chef calls "manly food". She likes rustic dishes, and while she says vegetarians will have plenty to eat, she's staying true to what she loves. Williams' favorite dish on the Republic menu is the beef tartare, her own take on what she calls her "favorite dish in the world." As for Parks and Rec, she says more of it will be vegetarian friendly. The diner's menu is still in progress, but even if some of her favorite dishes don't make the final cut, she says that they'll at least make an appearance as a daily special at some point.
When it comes to a beverage program, Williams has brought on Paul Fradeneck, who, she says, meshes perfectly with her cooking style. William's says she knew he was the right fit, and she feels that he will bring a great deal of experience to the position (he most recently worked at Bacco Ristorante in Southfield). The long, hook-shaped bar is one of Republic's best features, and the drink menu already boasts over 100 whiskeys, suggesting that the restaurant could draw a big after work crowd.
For service, Williams said that they have held several private events to help them hire their "forever staff" and she is happy with the result. Expect a lot of continuity between the front- and back-of-house, Williams says. Chefs will be visible inside of the restaurant and will leave the kitchen to serve and explain certain dishes, as well as to assist in creating that community-based tavern feel. The goal is five-star, professional service, while still feeling comfortable.
As for what Williams wants diners to come away with, her goal is to stay true to what a tavern is at its heart: a meeting place, eating place, and drinking place. She aims to provide interesting but comforting and familiar food, with drinks to match. It should feel like "a celebration", featuring nose-to-tail cooking shared in a festive atmosphere.
Republic will open in January, official date to be determined, for lunch Tuesday-Friday and Dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The diner, Parks and Rec, will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday, and then for late night dining from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.