Cliff Bell's, Downtown's iconic bar, restaurant, and jazz club, will be making some significant changes in the next few months according to their brand new General Manager, Matthew Buskard. Owner Paul Howard, who restored the bar in 2005 and has been running it ever since, hired Buskard for the GM role about a month ago. The next month will see even more change, as they have hired a new chef, Jordan Ceresnie, to replace Matthew Baldridge.
Buskard, who is from Grand Rapids, formerly worked at The Winchester, Donkey Taqueria, and with the What The Truck food truck. His approach to Cliff Bell's is to keep what works, and change what doesn't. They'll be redoing the menu, improving service, and more in the coming months, but are keeping their strengths-the entertainment and cocktail programs-the same.
The changes in the kitchen will begin shortly, as new chef Jordan Ceresnie takes over for Matthew Baldridge. According to Buskard, Baldridge was ready for a change and wanted to shift his focus (he will be hosting a pop-up dinner with Chez Chloé at the Majestic Café next week). Ceresnie is currently working as the Sous Chef at Toast in Birmingham, but will be moving into his first Executive Chef position in the next week or so. Buskard said his energy, skills, and experience are what made him perfect for the job (he received his Culinary Arts Certification and Baking and Pastry Certification from the Napa Valley Cooking School and staged at Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery for a year, for starters).
Ceresnie will be moving the menu in the direction of shareable small plates, which Buskard believes will better suit the dining needs of Cliff Bell's clientele. As for the beverage program, the cocktails will stay the same, but there will be an improved draft beer selection, and the wine list will be updated. Wine is one of Buskard's passions, and he hopes to curate a wine list that better reflects current trends and tastes.
The club has also hired a new events coordinator, but the change that guests should notice first is better service. Buskard, like so many other restaurateurs and chefs in the city, is anxious to provide a guest focused experience to diners, and he knows that good service is absolutely crucial. He is working with the staff to ensure that service not only improves, but is consistent moving forward.
· Cliff Bell's [Official Site]
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