On Friday, June 5, award-winning Ferndale restaurant Torino announced its sudden closure. The last dinner service was held Saturday and every seat in the small restaurant was filled with friends, regulars, and fans of the tasting-menu only establishment.
Chef Garrett Lipar prepared 14 courses with wine pairings chosen by manager Ian Redmond. The restaurant's owner, Noah Dorfman, and his girlfriend Michelle sat nearest the kitchen at the bar, interacting with staff and guests throughout the evening, graciously hosting as they enjoyed one last meal in the espresso bar turned nationally recognized restaurant.
The mood was both emotional and celebratory, like a going away party for a very good friend. The service was excellent as always, but there were even more interactions between the servers, Garrett, Ian, and the guests than usual, making the whole evening feel particularly welcoming and warm.
The mood was both emotional and celebratory, like a going away party for a very good friend.
Garrett's menu built on the one he had been using just days prior, with seasonal Michigan ingredients like rhubarb, green strawberries, ramps, morels, and even pine bark flour. He also took advantage of the opportunity to repeat a few of his favorite dishes from the weeks past, including a vibrant and refreshing parsley cake with parsley sorbet, and used staff favorite ingredients like skate. In addition he opened the restaurant's larder, treating guests to melting slices of house-aged Mangalitsa pork and a puree of a house-made kimchi, both of which he had planned on aging longer, but served early due to the circumstances.
Always a two or three hour affair, many guests spent six or more hours enjoying cocktails, tea, and after dinner drinks. Around 11, Garrett stood behind the bar and encouraged everyone to gather as the servers poured tequila for the staff and the guests. He spoke about the progress the restaurant had made in such a short time, and expressed his love for what he does, for the staff who became his family, and for all of the guests, earning a heartfelt toast from everyone present. "This has been the best experience of my life, and this is my family. And I am so, so, grateful enough that I can share this last moment with every one of you," he said.
After the speech, diners lingered long into the night, and as midnight approached the staff began celebrating with the guests, who bought them cocktails and asked about their own favorite dishes throughout the restaurant's two-year run. While the future of the restaurant's talented staff is as yet undetermined, many of them expressed the hope that they would work together on whatever that future project may be. After all, they're not just co-workers, they're family.
Visit the forums for more photos from Torino's final night.