Chef James Rigato and partner Ed Mamou announced today that they will open a restaurant in Hazel Park this summer. Named Mabel Gray after a Great Lakes folklore legend, the eatery will feature a small, rotating a la carte menu, a tasting menu, and a full bar with a seasonal beverage program.
Rigato tells Eater that after returning from his bout on Top Chef Season 12 and a recent cross-country "vision quest" where he dined at more than 60 restaurants, he feels ready to move forward with his next project. "It's not going to be a far cry from the farther reaches of The Root's food," he explains, noting that the menu will offer more daring, "aggressive" cuisine similar to his pop-up tasting menus. Still, Rigato will stay true to the foundations of his cooking — seasonal, foraged, and nose-to-tail ingredients.
The 1,600-square-foot storefront, which previously housed Ham Heaven and most recently a Coney-style diner called Liza's Place, will be converted into a 40-seat restaurant with lots of natural light, mismatch fixtures, and "a worn-in urban look." Ron & Roman, the Birmingham design firm, has already completed plans for the restaurant (expect renderings soon) and Rigato says demolition will begin Friday. "Mabel Gray is an expression of my point of view in the restaurant world," Rigato says.
When the Hazel Park eatery opens, Rigato will promote sous chef Nick Rodgers to executive chef at The Root in White Lake, and will continue to act as a chef/partner in the restaurant.
Recently, Rigato expressed fondness for Hazel Park's Loui's Pizza in the past and says that the city was a natural choice for his next project. "I think Hazel Park is due for some young entrepreneurs to come into town," he says.