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Kate Williams Brings Two New Ventures to GAR Castle

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Kate Williams and GAR Building.
Kate Williams and GAR Building.
Photo: All Photos Chris and Michelle Gerard

Chef Kate Williams, formerly of Rodin, is opening two new restaurants in the Grand Army of the Republic Building that occupies a triangular space between Adams, Cass, and Grand River. The GAR Building, or the "castle" as many people affectionately call it, will be home to two very different restaurants with one shared kitchen sometime this fall. According to Williams, "The layout of the first floor is perfect for that, it's a triangle. Also, I've always loved the idea of two sides of dining and cuisine" in this case, both "whimsical diner food and higher end".

The larger, and more expensive restaurant, will be Republic, an "old world European tavern" which was inspired by the building itself. Williams wanted to create a concept worthy of a castle, and she found a painting that perfectly illustrated what she wanted for the space: it shows a room with a wood floor, huge communal tables, and big pots of food where everyone can reach them. Guests interact, dogs run around, and it has a community feel. What Williams loves about it is that the people are gathered "not just for nourishment, but for personal nourishment".

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Part of that means going back to hyper-local and seasonal cuisine, which she aims to do for both restaurants, with a few ingredient exceptions like citrus juices. Whole hog butchery is something Williams plans to incorporate, and Republic's menu will be more meat focused. While upscale in feel, Republic will still be a place to have a burger during the week; something she feels is necessary being so near Comerica Park and Ford Field.

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The drink program will feature Michigan craft beers and ciders, a strong whiskey program, and American and European wines. As for décor, look for reclaimed materials, wood, and three-top tables, for an intimate communal feel.

The second concept is Parks & Rec, so named because the building once housed the Parks and Recreation department for the city. This is a diner concept, with only 20-15 seats compared to Republic's 85. The same kitchen means the same local ingredients, but made into things like boozy milkshakes, hand pies, sandwiches, homemade pizza rolls, and "a lot of vegetarian staples". Here, the emphasis is on fun, the kind of food Williams says she likes to eat on her day off, and it will be at a lower price point as well.

Expect laminated menus, antique Detroit park benches, and a more traditional diner feel. The diner will have a separate entrance from Republic, and its own hours. Upstairs, Mindfield (the film and media production group that owns the building) is creating their own offices, but other than a small entrance to their office, the entire first floor will be home to Williams' ventures.

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Between the two restaurants' schedules, Williams will be kept busy. She likes the idea of Parks & Rec being open 24 hours, at least on weekends, and it will be open 7-days per week, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Republic, by contrast, will be open for lunch and dinner only, closed on Mondays. She plans to train staff on both restaurants, as that will allow for a more cohesive front of house operation, since the kitchen will already be doing double duty. Look for Parks & Rec's opening around October 1st, with Republic opening November 1st, if all goes according to schedule.
· GAR Building Official Page [Facebook]
· Rodin Chef Kate Williams Leaving [-ED-]

1942 Grand River Avenue, Detroit, MI

1942 Grand River Avenue, Detroit, MI

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