Union Joints, the team behind some of Southeast Michigan’s most popular restaurants, unveiled its latest highly anticipated restaurant project in Troy on August 20. The Latin American fusion restaurant Gran Castor (which means “great beaver” in Spanish) is located at 2950 Rochester Rd. in the former Hooters and Wagon Wheel Saloon building.
Where Union Joints has built its brand on repurposing historic properties such as Berkley’s Vinsetta Garage and the church that houses Clarkston Union, with Gran Castor the team had the liberty to create something entirely new. “I’m used to designing by following s what the building was and the whole process of repurposing it [and] always being respectful of what the building’s original intention was,” says restaurant designer Ann Stevenson, who founded Union Joints with her husband Curt Catallo. “In this case there was a certain liberty of approaching it in incredibly fresh way of thinking.”
The restaurant seats roughly 245 people total including the patio area that sits along the busy corner of Big Beaver and Rochester roads. The restaurant features a cafe serving coffee roasted at their other Latin-influence Clarkston restaurant Honcho, as well as espresso drinks, tea, and pastries during the day. There’s also a large dining room with a lunch counter facing the open kitchen, booth seats, and a lounge area surrounding a orange metal fireplace leftover from the the building’s Hooters days. Towards the back of the building, past the wood-burning pizza oven, customers will find a large bar area with a mixture of communal tables, booths, and bar seats. The restaurant also features a private dining space with seats for 32 people.
Stevenson was aiming for a “funky” atmosphere with a Central American and South American elements. The interior features lots of printed wallpaper and patterned cement tile floors while the bar is constructed from a sandy colored cement, plaster, and inlaid ceramics by artist Michele Quan. The dining room is lit with large onyx cross-shaped fixtures.
“We took Honcho as a base, took that and grew from that,” chef Cameron Berg says of the menu at Gran Castor. Like the Clarkston restaurant, Gran Castor serves a variety of Latin American-influenced dishes combined with other international flavors and ingredients. Customers can expect options like curried oxtail and jackfruit tacos alongside pollo borracho — a tequila-brined half chicken that’s baked, deep fried, and served with mole. Gran Castor also offers pizzas topped with options like chorizo, fingerling potatoes, mole, smoked cheddar, and salsa. For dessert there’s everything from spiced dark chocolate soft serve to passion fruit pie in a jar. From the bar, look out for frozen margaritas, frosé, and beer.
Gran Castor is currently open for dinner with service starting around 4 p.m. The restaurant plans to open the coffee shop for service all-day in the coming weeks and will eventually roll out breakfast and lunch.