The G.A.R. Castle's charming diner restaurant, Parks & Rec, makes its official debut next week, but before the anticipated opening photographers Michelle and Chris Gerard got an inside look at this new downtown breakfast spot. The Detroit Department of Parks and Recreation occupied the G.A.R. beginning in the 1940s and designs at the diner draw on that history. Artist Jamie Young was enlisted to create the restaurant's rustic wooden sign featuring Belle Isle's James Scott Memorial Fountain. She also added unique touches throughout the space such as repainting several kids-sized stools to look like Oreo cookies. Shuffleboard sticks and pucks were saved during the G.A.R. renovations and have found a new home above the sign. A white laminate bar with metal details swings frame the several large windows displaying plants and preserves. Green, park bench-style booths line the opposing wall behind chessboard tables.
General manager Lisa Carleton tells Eater that diner staff will also don t-shirts with food-centric illustrations pulled from LA artist Greg Siff's mural inside Republic. In addition to dishes like strata, Dutch babies, and biscuits and gravy, chef Sarah Welch's menu will feature Water Tower coffee, boozy milkshakes, and bloody marys. Bartender Joe Vargas has also created a specialty brunch cocktail, The Battlefield Betty, made with Two James vodka, beet & carrot drinking vinegars, orange juice, and spicy grenadine. Parks & Rec opens Monday. Seating is limited so make sure to get there early.
Parks & Rec will open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.