Chef Kate Williams is partnering in not one but two new restaurants and bars at downtown Detroit’s very-soon-to-open Siren Hotel. Williams alongside partner Matt Wang confirmed the news today to the Detroit Free Press revealing that they are collaborating on the cocktail lounge Candy Bar and a second-floor, “not-so-greasy spoon” called Karl’s.
The projects are “kind of like the sophomore album” to her Corktown breakout hit Lady of the House, Williams tells Eater. “There’s a lot of crossover with staff and product,” she says. “Some of the staff work at Lady a couple nights a week.”
Williams first got the idea for Karl’s several years ago, but couldn’t find the right space to fit her vision until she connected with the Siren Hotel developers at ASH NYC in 2016. “I always swore I’d never do a restaurant downtown,” she says. “It was never interesting to me until this came about.”
As Williams continued to work with ASH NYC, she was introduced to future managing partner Matt Wang, a restaurant industry veteran who’s worked for David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant group, who was visiting Detroit as director for new business development at the Marcus Samuelsson Group. “We just had great rapport,” Wang says of his first meeting with Williams. At the same time, Wang says he was at a point in his career where he was ready to “be part of the creative energy of building a restaurant.”
Together the pair struck a deal with ASH NYC. “Our partners in ASH have such an amazing eye for design details,” Wang says. “It was just amazing serendipity and kismet that made it so great to work together.”
The name Karl’s comes from a restaurant once owned by Williams great-great grandparents on the east side of Detroit near Van Dyke and Kercheval called A. Karl’s Kercheval Home Bakery. “They lived above the bakery and this was pre- and during the Depression era,” Williams says. As the Depression wore on, Williams family would give away much of the food from the bakery for free to the hungry people that would gather at the backdoor and Karl’s eventually shuttered.
The reinvented Karl’s will be located on the second floor of the Siren with views of downtown Detroit and the People Mover. The roughly 85-seat, all-day restaurant and bakery will showcase “American classics” such as doughnuts and ham sandwiches made with Lady of the House’s thin-cut Parisian ham, according to Williams.
While the restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, “it’s definitely a late-night space,” she says. “We’re going to have live music because it’s the Wurlitzer [Building] so music was part of its identity.” Karl’s is on track for a late summer or early fall opening.
Meanwhile, on the first floor, visitors to the Siren Hotel will find the millennial pink hotel cocktail lounge called Candy Bar. “The program will be very collaborative,” Williams says of Candy Bar. Bartender Marlowe Johnson (previously Gold Cash Gold) has been tapped to develop a drink menu thats strong on classics as well as original drinks. The cocktails will be flanked by a handful of bar snacks including chips, olives, nuts, and — eventually — a candy bar, Williams says.
The Siren is located inside the Wurlitzer Building and its neighboring 1515 Broadway building and will eventually house seven bars, restaurants, and cafes. Those include an eight-seat tasting menu restaurant by chef Garrett Lipar called Albena, Candy Bar, Populace Coffee, Karl’s, a rooftop bar, a piano karaoke bar called Sid Gold’s Request Room, and an unnamed fourth project.
The Siren Hotel is expected to open partially later this month. Several of the spaces hosted private soft opening events over the weekend and training is underway at Candy Bar. Stay tuned for more details on an official opening date.
• Wurlitzer Building Hotel Development Reveals Three Major Restaurant and Bar Projects [ED]
• Tasting Menu Restaurant Albena Targets Late-January Debut at The Siren Hotel [ED]
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