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Pontiac’s Menagerie Lounge Names Executive Chef

Chef Marcus Ware will helm the Southern-influenced restaurant

Chef Marcus Ware.
Courtesy of Menagerie Lounge
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Welcome to Chef Shuffles, a regularly updated roundup of the latest shakeups in Detroit’s restaurant and bar community. Have a staffing update to share? Drop a note at the tipline.

November 6

PONTIAC — James and April Forbes, the owners of forthcoming Masonic Temple restaurant and cocktail bar Menagerie Lounge, have tapped Marcus Ware as executive chef. Ware is a culinary school graduate who has spent the past several years working under some of metro Detroit’s best chefs at Selden Standard, London Chop House, and Cliff Bell’s. He’s currently head line cook at Takoi in Corktown. Ware plans to develop a Southern-influenced menu using produce from the nearby Belt Line Farm in Pontiac.

The restaurant is currently recruiting staff for all positions in anticipation of a February 2018 debut. In the meantime, the Forbes’ pop-up restaurant Menagerie Kitchen is hosting a six-course preview dinner on November 18.

DOWNTOWN — Bartender Dorothy Elizabeth has left the soon-to-open Siren Hotel where she was expected to open a cocktail lounge called Candy Bar. Elizabeth plans to focus on travel, consulting, and bartending pop-ups.

September 26

RIVERTOWN WAREHOUSE DISTRICT — Rattlesnake Club chef Chris Franz has moved on from the fine-dining institution after 16 years helming the kitchens, the Detroit News reports. The restaurant announced the change of guard on Facebook this afternoon, stating that Franz “has moved on to a new adventure and has passed the torch” to Chef de Cuisine Jeff Lanctot. Lanctot has been with the Rattlesnake Club nearly as long as Franz having joined the team in 2004. He will be preparing small plates to pair with cocktails at the restaurant’s Drinks with Maria event on Thursday.

EASTERN MARKET — Gather recently recruited a new chef Jessie Patuano to replace opening chef Nate Vogeli. Vogeli amicably split from the restaurant earlier this month. Patuano previously worked at some of metro Detroit’s most respected restaurants including The Root in White Lake under chef James Rigato, Torino, Bacco Ristorante, and Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails. The restaurant is expected to reopen very soon with a refreshed menu focused on locally-sourced produce.

September 5

DOWNTOWN — Wolfgang Puck Steak at the MGM Grand Detroit has named Don Hammond its new executive chef. Hammond is an Ann Arbor native and previously worked as a corporate chef for local restaurant group Peas & Carrots Hospitality and as an executive chef for Major Food Group’s Italian-American eatery, Parm, in New York, according to a release. He also gained experience working under chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Since joining Steak in August, Hammond has reset the menu with a variety of new pasta dishes, steaks, and chops.

BIRMINGHAM — The Townsend Hotel’s flagship restaurant Rugby Grille recently promoted Gary Lawson to chef de cuisine. Lawson has worked for the fine-dining restaurant since December 2016 when he was hired on as a line cook, according to a release. Lawson was previously the executive chef for Compass Group USA in Grand Blanc and began his career as a sous chef at Mackinac Island’s Mission Point Resort.

August 1, 2017

DOWNTOWN — Top Chef season 12 alum Rebecca LaMalfa is joining the league of fellow Chicago-based chefs who have departed for Detroit. LaMalfa has taken over as executive chef at Standby in the Belt Alley, the Detroit Free Press first-reports. Her style leans towards classic French cooking with some Italian and American influences. LaMalfa plans to begin introducing new items to the menu throughout this month.

Jesse Knott, who was named lead chef following the departure of opening chef Brendon Edwards in May 2016, will stay on to operate an Indian-influenced food cart at sister bar The Skip. Bartender Joe Robinson, co-owner of both Standby and The Skip, says Knott has always had his eye on running a food cart out of the more casual outdoor bar. “He loves being outside and I think that's where he shines — street food. He can just dish it out and he gets to interact more with people."

LaMalfa has made occasional appearances at pop-ups in Detroit over the years but those have become more frequent since her husband chef Thomas Lents opened The Apparatus Room in the Detroit Foundation Hotel this spring. In May she prepared brunch at Mabel Gray, operated by fellow season 12 competitor James Rigato. She’s also recently sold out several seatings of a multi-course vegetarian menu at Revolver. LaMalfa, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, was previously chef de cuisine for Virgin Hotels Chicago and executive sous chef at Trencherman.

July 28, 2017

CORKTOWN — Chef/butcher Larissa Popa is officially joining the team at Lady of the House. She’ll been named sous chef for the forthcoming restaurant, once again joining fellow Republic alum and executive chef Kate Williams in the kitchen. Popa was working with William’s behind the scenes at a recent restaurant preview dinner at Frame in Hazel Park. She’s also the founder of The Meatstress, a series of classes on butchering and charcuterie. She studied culinary arts at Schoolcraft College and traveled to France to learn about butchery and charcuterie traditions. Lady of the House is expected to debut in August or September, according to Crain’s.

ROYAL OAK — Lea Schofield has been named the the general manager at award-winning Bistro 82 in Royal Oak. Schofield has 25 years of experience. She previously managed restaurants and bars including Cafe ML and Bill’s Eat & Drink. AFB Hospitality Group (Bistro 82, The Morrie, and SCL) has also promoted Keith Schofield to Director of Operations. Keith has been the general manager at Bistro 82 since February and will now oversee all of the restaurant group’s properties. Prior to joining AFB, he was the food and beverage director at the MGM Grand Detroit, director of restaurant operations at The Townsend Hotel, and senior managing partner at the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group.

June 29, 2017

HAZEL PARK — Mabel Gray has named Lindsay Martinik the new sommelier and service manager to replace outgoing sommelier Rachel Van Til. According to the Detroit News, Martinik previously worked as a server at Mabel and prior to that worked as a beverage manager at Cafe Muse in Royal Oak. She has extensive experience with wine, training under Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon at Morels and later Master Sommelier Claudia Tyagi at Forest.

June 22, 2017

DOWNTOWN — Bartender Dorothy Elizabeth left Standby a little over a week ago to embark on her first solo project inside downtown Detroit’s forthcoming Siren Hotel. Elizabeth has a background in chemistry and tells Eater she’s looking forward to putting those skills to use at the new cocktail lounge, dubbed Candy Bar. The 30-seat bar will feature an entirely pink color palette and a J-shaped bar top. Elizabeth is still developing the bar program but says customers can expect original drinks like the “Capitol Park,” a rye-based drink, mixed with cardamaro, bonal, and a special blend of bitters.

Elizabeth helped open Standby and was a principal bartender at the Belt Alley establishment. Last year she was named an Eater Young Gun — an award that recognizes talented young restaurant industry professionals.

CORKTOWN — Another longtime Standby bartender Marlowe Johnson has joined the team at Gold Cash Gold in Corktown where he is heading up the restaurant’s bar program. Johnson is a close friend of Gold Cash Gold chef Brendon Edwards; the pair both previously worked at Standby and Antietam. Johnson started by developing GCG’s new al fresco bar menu, which features a selection of bottled cocktails. A representative for the restaurant tells Eater that he is now in the process of revamping the main drink menu. Diners can expect a fresh lineup of cocktails including clarified cachaca milk tea punch and carbonated port French 75s.

June 13, 2017

HAZEL PARK — Sommelier Rachel Van Til is leaving the acclaimed metro Detroit restaurant Mabel Gray at the end of the month to work under Master Sommelier Barbara Werley in Dallas, Texas. Chef James Rigato made the announcement on Facebook on June 7. Van Til previously worked at Trattoria Stella in Traverse city and has been with the Mabel Gray team since the beginning. “We could not be more excited for her opportunity to grow as a sommelier and student of hospitality,” Rigato writes.

DETROIT — Chef Mike Han, who had hoped to bring affordable, sustainable sushi to Corktown with a restaurant called Itadaku, has left Detroit. In an email to Eater, Han writes that he had been unable to work out a deal with investors that would have allowed him to keep control of the business. “For that reason, I have put Itadaku on hold for now and have partnered with the Mayanoki team to help open New York City's first sustainable omakase sushi restaurant.” According to Eater NY, the restaurant opened in May with a $95, 15-course menu featuring seasonal and sustainable seafoood.

CASS CORRIDOR — Chef Joe Flores is in the process of revamping Asian-American eatery The Peterboro’s menu. Flores took over after the departure of opening chef Brion Wong for New York last month. Flores previously worked at Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor and Alinea in Chicago. He also did a stint at another Detroit Optimist Society restaurant — Wright & Co.

CORKTOWN — After joining the team at Bobcat Bonnie’s in April, chef Emmele Herrold (perviously One-Eyed Betty’s and Black Eagle) is settling into her new gig. Herrold unveiled an updated menu on June 2 featuring loads of creative sandwiches, rice bowls, and more.

Bobcat Bonnie's

200 West Michigan Avenue, , MI 48197 (734) 879-0663 Visit Website

The Peterboro

420 Peterboro Street, , MI 48201 (313) 833-1111 Visit Website

Gold Cash Gold

2100 Michigan Avenue, , MI 48216 (313) 242-0770 Visit Website


1301 Broadway Street, Detroit, MI 48226 Visit Website

Mabel Gray

23825 John R Road, , MI 48030 (248) 398-4300 Visit Website