Downtown Detroit’s new spot for griddled burgers and sandwiches, Lovers Only, is preparing to make its entrance in Capitol Park on Friday, March 9. The latest restaurant from Voyager restaurateur Eli Boyer and chefs Jennifer Jackson and Justin Tootla plays on nostalgic foods with Southern flavors threaded throughout the menu.
Designed by Five/Eighths Architecture, the roughly 70-seat restaurant located at the base of Bedrock’s 28 Grand micro apartment building is “part mid-century modern, part finished basement,” Boyer tells Eater. The interior is plastered with lots of bold, graphic wallpaper ranging from cowboy tableaus to cattle to faux white marble next to wood paneling. The seating includes a mixture of two-tops paired with pastel schoolhouse chairs, U-shaped booths, and banquettes. Large windows and globe lights throughout the space keep it feeling bright, despite the overcast winter weather. Later this summer, the restaurant will add a few additional seats on a street side patio.
Lovers Only hovers somewhere between fast-casual and full-service dining. Customers will place their orders at the counter and receive a number and their beverage. Meals will then be delivered to the table. There will also be options for patrons looking to carry out and, eventually, an online ordering component through a third party app. The restaurant will also begin service out of its walk-up window located along Grand River Avenue sometime in late spring.
Six-ounce griddled burgers and sandwiches are the main players on Lovers Only’s brief menu. The Classic Smash features an extra thin patty grilled on a flat top for maximum caramelization. It’s served on a Brown’s Bun Bakery sesame bun with American cheese, sliced onions, lettuce, mayo, and mustard. The Burlington — which gets its name from Burlington, Wisconsin — has also come out as an early crowd favorite during the restaurant’s friends and family previews. It features a beef patty piled with dijonnaise, lettuce, cheddar cheese sauce, and twice-cooked onions with a slightly sweet pickle relish. “It’s got this like sweet, tangy, cheesy kind of thing,” Boyer says. “It all works together.”
On the sandwich side, the Extern — chef Jackson’s homage to a Southern fried chicken tradition and a popular item from Bakesale Betty in Oakland, California — features crispy fried chicken, slathered in Alabama white barbecue sauce and topped with a jalapeño coleslaw. Fans of a Detroit classic, the Maurice salad, can also find a rendition here. For vegetarians, the restaurant opted for an Impossible Burger patty on its Green Street. In addition to the food, Lovers Only also offers a house made sodas and a full bar where patrons can order everything from cans of Stroh’s to a tapped cocktail such as the spicy margarita soda.
Photographers Chris and Michelle Gerard visited Detroit’s new burger spot ahead of the opening. Take a tour of the restaurant and get a sneak peek at the menu below.
Lovers Only is located at 34 W. Grand River Ave. in Detroit; open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.