It may be a few months past that spring opening advertised on its exterior, but Cork & Gabel is finally gearing up to open its doors on Michigan Avenue. The new Italian-Irish-German comfort food restaurant is slated to make an entrance on Wednesday, December 19, in Corktown, just a stone’s throw from Michigan Central Station.
The sprawling brick building spans 4,450 square feet beside Two James Distillery with seats for roughly 112 people. Building owner Joe Mifsud and chef Matthew McGrail collaborated on the project, which has an industrial aesthetic that incorporates some Detroit-made elements. Customers enter the space through a repurposed oil barrel that Mifsud acquired on the southwest side of the city. It features a colorful graffiti interior. Above the barrel in the interior of the restaurant is a large bell circa 1901 made by a turn of the century Detroit iron factory. The wooden chairs and stools throughout Cork & Gabel as well as the iron gates surrounding the parking lot are also from Mifsud’s collections.
The long, bowling alley-like space features a U-shaped bar and an open kitchen layout surround by a mixture of two-tops, banquettes, and booths. A semi-private 12-seat table for large groups is tucked into the corner next to the kitchen; it faces toward the northeast side of Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Park. A staircase into a lower-level storage space and cellar features a blue railing and signs referencing the ill-fated Detroit Subway plan of 1915. , The restaurant walls feature massive twelve-by-four foot doors that can open up in warm weather. Mifsud and McGrail topped the whole renovation off with a clock tower on the roof of the building.
Cork & Gabel’s menu will feature options like crispy Dubliner cheese, soft pretzels with beer cheese, apple-sage bratwurst on pretzel hoagies, and schnitzel BLTs. The bar, meanwhile, is expected to feature a mixture of beer, wine, bourbon, whiskey, and scotch. Photographers Michelle and Chris Gerard took a look around the space ahead of the anticipated opening. Take a peek inside Corktown’s bold, new beer hall and restaurant in the gallery below.
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