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Metro Detroit’s Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings, Fall 2021

Two food trucks gain brick and mortars as seafood spots set up shop downtown and in the burbs. These are the hottest restaurant openings around Detroit this fall

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A wall behind a restaurant booth holds a clock, art and other knickknacks
Union Assembly
Gerard + Belevender

The pandemic is far from over, and most restaurants are struggling with a shortage of workers. This fall, however, the restaurant scene seems to be taking cautious steps back to some sense of normalcy. Almost. Diners have slowly returned to restaurants. And there’s much to look forward to: a massive new restaurant across from Comerica Park, Nigerian food in Cass Corridor, and vegan on the Avenue of Fashion, for starters.

An opening date is a moving target for any restaurant, but for now, here are a few of the most exciting restaurants expected to open their doors in the next few months.


Union Assembly

Three booths on the mezzanine
The mezzanine includes both booth and table seating.
Gerard + Belevender

Opened: September 22, 2021

Key players: Union Joints

Union Joints, the restaurant group behind suburban hotspots Vinsetta Garage, Clarkston Union, Gran Castor, and others is opening a new two-story, 14,800-square-foot restaurant at Woodward and Columbia in Detroit. The restaurant, which anchors the Little Caesars corporate extension, has elevated views of Woodward and Comerica Park from the indoor-outdoor bar, and profiles of the Fox Theatre and Fillmore Detroit. It’s Union Joints’ first new construction restaurant. The menu will include game-day classics, including Detroit-style pizza, “grown-up hot pockets,” macaroni and cheese, Nashville hot perch, an extensive lineup of salads, and other items that draw on the national and international experiences of the executive chefs. 2131 Woodward, Detroit.


The Dixboro Project

Opened: September 3

Key players: Sava Farah, Louis Maldonado

The Dixboro Project encompasses three concepts under one roof: Dine-in restaurant The Boro; Boro to Go, a pizza and bakery takeout space; and the Dixboro House, a fine-dining experience. The Dixboro House offers a seven-course pre-fixe meal, wine pairing, and live performances once a night. 5400 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor


Sloppy Crab

Soft opening: September 15

Key player: Chef Al

Chef Al has been packing them in at Sloppy Chops, the popular northwest side restaurant since opening in 2020. Now, he’s opening Sloppy Crab, a restaurant serving “upscale seafood with an urban twist” across from the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. Soft VIP openings have started in the former Briggs Detroit space. Expect prawns, crab cakes, and seafood boil bags. 519 E. Jefferson, Detroit


Oishi Soul Cafe

Opened: September 2021

Oishi opened recently, in the former space that housed LeCulture Cafe in Eastern Market. Described as “comfort food with a Japanese twist,” the menu of the restaurant features lamb chops, firecracker shrimp, Asian slaw salad, and honey hoisin grilled salmon. Currently, the food is available through DoorDash. 1428 Gratiot Ave., Detroit


The Halal Guys

An artist rendering of the coming dining room shows a fast-food counter with writing on the walls that says “Serving the Street since 1990”
An artist rendering of the coming dining room
The Halal Guys

Opened: September 2021

New York food-cart institution the Halal Guys has brought its chicken and rice over garlicky white sauce to Dearborn Heights. The menu at the local brick-and-mortar is the same as all of the franchise’s other locations, including its original site in New York City.

It’s the first of four stores planned for the area, a company spokesman says. The second is planned for 1043 Woodward in midtown Detroit.

Dearborn Heights customers can order beef gyro, chicken and falafel sandwiches and platters, as well as sides of hummus and baba ghanoush, and baklava for dessert. 26650 Ford Rd., Dearborn Heights


Barcade

Opened: September 2021

Galaga, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Asteroids, and Bubble Bobble are just a few of the old-school games at this arcade-slash-bar in Midtown. There are sandwiches, sliders, salad, sweets on the food menu, and lots of American craft beer on tap. 666 Selden, Detroit


Louisiana Creole Gumbo

Projected opening: September 23

Gumbo has been the main event for 50 years at Louisiana Creole Gumbo’s storefront in Eastern Market. After nine months of searching for staff, they are bringing the eponymous dish and other bayou favorites such as red beans and rice, jambalaya, and shrimp po’boys to the burbs. 29216 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills


Mare Mediterranean

Projected opening: Late September 2021

Key players: Nino Cutraro, Sean Force

Restaurateur Nino Cutraro, owner of Bella Piatti in downtown Birmingham, plans a new 6,800-square-foot seafood restaurant this month, featuring freshly cooked fish from Greece and Sicily. Sean Force, formerly of Ocean Prime, is executive chef over a menu of entrees centered on lots of fish and crudo that guests can select from an ice-filled display. The menu also includes pasta, steaks, and chops accompanied by an extensive wine list with selections from Italy, France, and Greece. Diners can hang out in a lounge area before and after dinner, where appetizers and drinks are served. 115 Willits Street, Birmingham


Fork in Nigeria

The side of the Fork in Nigeria food truck shows an open window. Signs on the truck read “catering,” Ubereats, Grubhub, and indicate it accepts credit cards
One of the area’s most popular food trucks soon will have a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Monica Williams

Projected opening: October 2021

Key player: Prej Iroegbu

The popular food truck Fork in Nigeria has new wheels, a new spot in Ohio, and plans to expand to a brick and mortar in Cass Corridor this fall. A nod to the owner’s Nigerian roots, seating will be on the floor and diners will be eating with their hands. The restaurant will feature fish items for the first time, such as ocean tilapia soup, ogbono, and fish pastries. The upcoming location will have dining indoors and an outside heated patio. 4219 Woodward, Detroit


The Lobster Pit Stop

Projected opening: October

Key players: Nick Wilson, Kathryn Wilson

There’s always a line of vehicles for drive-up service wherever The Lobster Food Truck pulls in, a setup that proved smart at the height of social distancing. Customers rave about the hot lobster rolls with garlic butter, lobster mac and cheese, loaded lobster fries, and shrimp tacos. Lobster is sourced directly from Maine and shipped overnight, so it’s always fresh. “Chef Nick” developed his talents working with seafood in Florida and other places around the country before returning home to Detroit to open the truck in 2018. Now he and his aunt Kathryn are planning to open a brick-and-mortar site. Ford Road and Wyoming, Dearborn


Trap Vegan

Projected opening: October

Key player: Rondy Raiford

Trap Vegan, featuring health-based vegan items, is opening soon on the Avenue of Fashion. The smoothie bar will feature an array of raw juices, smoothies, and vegan burgers. Moe’s Smoothie, for example, will be filled with fruits and vegetables in honor of the owner’s late brother. Produce is locally sourced and the restaurant is focused on carryout. 20198 Livernois, Detroit


Freya and Dragonfly

Opening: Late 2021. The company is currently hiring hosts.

Key players: Sandy Levine and Doug Hewitt

Restaurateur Sandy Levine and chef Doug Hewitt of beloved Detroit restaurant Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails are planning a 40-50 seat fine-dining restaurant with a tasting menu (Freya) and a separate cocktail bar (Dragonfly) in the same building as Chartreuse in Milwaukee Junction. 2929 E. Grand Blvd., Detroit


Shake Shack

Projected opening: Fall 2021

A rendering of Shake Shack
A rendering of the restaurant
Shake Shack courtesy photo

Shake Shack’s fifth Michigan location opens in Rochester Hills this fall. This outpost of the buzzy New York chain will offer the traditional lineup of 100 percent all-natural Angus beef burgers, as well as fried chicken sandwiches, flat-top grilled hot dogs, and shakes. It will include a 600-square-foot outdoor patio, and a walk-up window to pick up orders made via the app or website. The chain introduced the window in April 2020 at other locations to accommodate social distancing. 104 N. Adams Rd., Rochester Hills; shakeshack.com


Bohemia and Pearl’s Deep Dive

Projected opening: Fall 2021

Key players: Adam Merkel Restaurants

The plan for the corner of Main Street and 11 Mile Road in downtown Royal Oak includes Bohemia, a Mediterranean restaurant on the ground floor, and Pearl’s Deep Dive, a casual seafood restaurant. The restaurants were initially expected to open months ago, but are now set to open in the next few months. 100 S. Main St. Royal Oak; eatatbohemia.com


Bonchon

Projected opening: October 2021

This popular Korean fried chicken chain lands in Michigan this fall. The fast-food restaurant also offers other fusion foods such as tacos and sliders, and Asian potstickers and pork buns. 27915 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington; bonchon.com


Townhouse Detroit

Key players: Heirloom Hospitality

Townhouse Detroit relaunched in the central business district in a fresh, new space. The interior additions include a large, pill-shaped bar with seating around the perimeter, a lounge area, a coffee and dessert counter bar, as well as traditional dining tables and banquet seating.

The menu also was overhauled for fine dining that includes black bass; ora king salmon tartare using coffee, silan (rich date syrup) and shoyu (Japanese style soy sauce) egg yolk, and A5 wagyu beef with garlic, shallot rings, and grilled chicory. 500 Woodward Avenue, Detroit


Ladder 4 Detroit

Key players: Sons of Banat, LLC

Projected opening: 2021

Not many details are available about this wine bar being developed in an old firehouse in southwest Detroit. Co-owner James Cadariu is developing the bar, which is expected to focus on natural wines, with live music and a rooftop patio. Five/Eighths architecture is involved in the construction, which is near completion. 3396 Vinewood, Detroit


James Oliver Coffee Co.

An artist’s rendering of the brick exterior of James Oliver
Besides coffee, bagels, and bagel sandwiches, there will be an espresso bar, tea, and a pour-over station at the Corktown site.
James Oliver Coffee Co.

Projected opening: 2021

Key players: David Shock, Miranda Clark, James Oliver Clark

The former home to Detroit Institute of Bagels will serve as the flagship cafe for family-owned James Oliver, operated by owners David Shock and Miranda Clark, daughter and son-in-law of the company’s founder and namesake. The spot will again serve bagels, along with coffee, espresso, cold brew, tea, and a pour-over station. The renovated space will include a drive-thru and walk-up window. 1236 Michigan Ave., Detroit; jamesolivercoffee.com


Metropolitan Bar & Kitchen

Key players: Hailey Enszer, Brendon Edwards, Ashley Price, Rick Stanza, and Jonathan Hartzell of DSC Hospitality

Projected opening: 2021

The site of the former Craft Work restaurant in West Village will be replaced with a craft bar/market/restaurant/deli/tasting room. The owners, who were previously involved in Corktown’s former Gold Cash Gold restaurant, had plans to open in March 2021; perhaps there’ll be an opening before the year is out. 8047 Agnes St., Detroit; metropolitanvariety.com; 313-469-0976


What’s Crackin’

Projected opening: 2021

Key players: Max Hardy, Ron Bartell

Chef Max Hardy, who owns the Caribbean restaurant COOP at the Detroit Shipping Co., the now-shuttered River Bistro, and the forthcoming Afro-Caribbean spot Honey, also plans a takeout spot for seafood boils on the Avenue of Fashion, just north of Seven Mile. For this venture, Hardy is teaming up with Ron Bartell, owner of Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles just up the avenue. 19163 Livernois, near Seven Mile


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