Work is well underway at R.U.B. BBQ in Grand Circus Park, despite a several changes in the initial renovation plans. In February, The Detroit News reported that R.U.B. had recruited Slow Roll co-founder Jason Hall to manage the restaurant and lead its conversion into a bike-friendly eatery called Cykel.
At the time, the restaurant was scheduled to debut on March 29. However, by late-March it appeared communications between Hall and the partners at R.U.B. BBQ had broken down. Responding to an inquiry by Eater, Hall says that he had decided to part ways with the project. "I already have too much on my plate," adding that if the project did move forward it would not be under the name Cykel.
General manager and chef David Wood says that despite losing Hall, R.U.B.'s partners are still renovating and updating the menu. He expects the first section of the remodel — a "family-style" bench seating area decorated with blue and white wooden wall treatments — to be complete by Monday, in time for Tiger's Opening Day. The bar area will remain the same through the season opener; however, within two weeks Wood says it will undergo a similar renovation. Crates hung on the walls will be painted and the ceiling will change. R.U.B.'s owners have even purchased bowling alley flooring to create new tables.
Wood says the new menu will roll out after third Tiger's game. Barbecue will still be the main event, but the restaurant is switching to local ingredients from farms in Bay City.
"Barbecue is so basic. We want to do something that's inventive, exciting, and take it to the next level. We're a successful business that's been here for five years, and things are good, but we want to raise the bar."
The restaurant is aiming for more "world flavors" says Wood including Asian sticky ribs coated with plum sauce and Moroccan-spiced pork butt.
Without Hall in the driver's seat, Wood says that R.U.B. will still become a more bicycle-friendly, but it won't be directly associated with the Slow Roll. Wood says the second floor at R.U.B. is already fully booked for Opening Day, but baseball fans are welcome to come grab a bite or a beer on the main floor and check out what's new in the restaurant.