New bar openings have been somewhat slim over the past couple of years, no thanks to the global pandemic. But situated in tiny a storefront 6408 Woodward in the city’s fast developing Milwaukee Junction area is Time Will Tell, a jewel box sized cocktail bar that opened in March.
Time Will Tell is the latest spot to come from the Detroit Optimist Society hospitality group, the folks behind a slew of other lauded bars and restaurants, including Wright & Company, the Sugar House, and Bad Luck Bar.
Owner Dave Kwiatkowski says much of the aesthetic of the space was informed by the dark wood, mirrored back bar — salvaged from the former 7 Brothers Bar in Hamtramck. The result, a kind of vintage ‘50s neighborhood bar vibe, but instead of wood paneled walls typical of Midwest dive bars, Kwiatkowski takes care to make the spot feel cozy with light pink and green floral wallpaper, a matching long upholstered booth along an exposed brick wall, petit white stone two top tables, and a retro-looking jukebox, loaded with a mix of classic hip hop and other throwback 80s and 90s albums. The vibe is a departure from some of the hospitality group’s other properties, many of which lean in on dim lighting, minimalist design, and a higher price point on the menus.
“We want to have a little bit more whimsy here and have a little little bit of fun,” says Kwiatkowski.
The bar program is managed by Sugar House alumnus Jake Miller, who began planning the bar with Kwiatkowski back in 2019. The menu features playful cocktails with a particular focus on tequila, mezcal, and rum — such as the Hiatus Cowboy, Miller’s take on an old fashioned made with Espolon reposado tequila instead of whiskey, mole syrup, bitters, and grapefruit — as well as a brief list of craft beers, and wine by the glass. Most menu items are $10 or less and none go for more than $12. When guests are handed their checks, they’re usually tucked inside an old book like a paperback version of Agatha Christie’s Appointment With Death.
Kwiatkowski says Time Will Tell has been years in the making. He signed the lease for the space in 2019 (the building is owned by The Platform development firm) but by the time the bar got zoning approval for a liquor license, it was February 2020, just before the pandemic effectively shut down public-facing businesses. After months of construction delays, the spot was completed in March 2022.
Time Will Tell is situated in an area of Detroit that’s experiencing a growth spurt in terms of food and drink establishments. Up the street on the east side of Woodward are Yum Village and the award-winning Baobab Fare. Across the street, Supino Pizzeria opened its second location in early 2021, and not far on East Grand Boulevard, the high-end special occasion Italian seafood restaurant Oak and Reel opened in 2020, and Freya — a vegan-friendly tasting menu restaurant — and its sister bar Dragonfly swung open its doors in late 2021.
“I think it’s the more the merrier, because let’s go, you know, to Yum Village, get get a drink and dinner or walk down the street and maybe go to Supino,” says Kwiatkowski of the growing density in dining and entertainment options in the Milwaukee Junction area; he likens it to the growth experienced in Corktown where his hospitality group’s flagship Sugar House is located. “There are other places to go [here]. If people are willing to spend a little bit more time to park and figure it out you can walk across the street or walk around the block.”
With a couple of months already under Time Will Tell’s belt, Kwiatkowski has his sights set on northern Michigan. He recently purchased the shuttered Garage Bar and Grill in Northport with plans to reopen it. He and a crew are headed to the Leelanau Peninsula to renovate the space in the coming weeks.
Time Will Tell is at 6408 Woodward and is open 5 p.m. to midnight Wednesday through Saturday.