Bar Pigalle, the long-anticipated “playful French” inspired cocktail bar and restaurant has flung open its doors to the public today, June 23. The spot, at 2915 John R. St. on the ground level of the historic Carlton Lofts, is the creation of two Detroit hospitality veterans who met while opening the beloved shuttered Michael Symon’s Roast more than a decade ago.
Partners Travis Fourmont — a longtime mixologist who founded the Detroit Cocktail Classic and Joseph Allerton, a certified sommelier who served as Roast’s general manager for much of his 13-year stint there — teamed up pre-pandemic to conceptualize the project. But the spread of COVID-19 and subsequent shutdowns and delays in renovating the space prolonged Bar Pigalle’s opening nearly three years after Fourmont first approached his former colleague about partnering. The pair have spent the past several days this week and last week hosting friends and family events, as well as previews for surrounding residents, before officially opening to the public.
Named after the Parisian neighborhood, Quartier Pigalle — known for its nightlife, bars, and bistros — Fourmont says he wanted the space to give off casual French brasserie vibes, nothing too pretentious, while providing a high caliber dining and drinking experience.
“I think it’s so important that somebody that’s going to a game can come in with a ball cap and shorts and not feel like, oh, this is really swanky, and they feel uncomfortable,” says Fourmont. “We also want people to be able to come in, and if they want to get a really high in cognac and like a fancy steak, they can do that as well.”
Helming the kitchen is another Roast alumnus, Nyle Flynn, who’s credits including working as a sous chef at Selden Standard and chef de cuisine at the Apparatus Room at the Foundation Hotel downtown. The menu includes a variety of raw and cooked small plates, including bison tartare; a charentais melon salad with Iberico ham, whipped brie, sherry, and plum; and the chef’s selection of oysters — a popular order during a neighborhood preview night on Wednesday evening. For mains, one standout entry has already been found in the Coney-style steak and frites, featuring a choice between the daily butcher’s cut or a 24-ounce bone-in ribeye. To drink, Allerton puts his sommelier experience to work with a brief selection of French wines, focusing on regions that don’t always get a lot of play, but end up being more of a value to customers. Similarly, the cocktail menu highlights French spirits like Citadelle gin, rhum agricole, and Rémy Martin 1738. At the same time, guests can also order bottles of Budweiser, Jolly Pumpkin on draft or in the bottle, and other select craft brews and ciders. Fourmont says the team will eventually add a menu for bar bites and late night snacking.
Fourmont says he first started thinking about launching his own business after spending several years as a bar consultant for Great Lakes Wine and Spirits, realizing that such a corporate job wasn’t in his future long-term. Once he took the plunge, his community of support began to surface, first when he partnered with Allerton, and eventually when he landed on the property where the pair would build out Bar Pigalle.
The space had sat vacant for many years before Fourmont was approached by Carlo Liburdi, owner of the Kiesling bar in the city’s Milwaukee Junction area, who told him that his father owned the ground-level space of the Carlton Lofts building. Even though the space would require significant renovations, he felt like the signs were in place to push him to take the leap and see Bar Pigalle to fruition. The Carlton also held a special place in Fourmont and Allerton’s lives because Allerton was among the earlier group of residents to live in the building when it was rehabbed into condos during the aughts. The pair frequently found themselves sneaking inside the vacant ground-floor space during that period, drinking beers, and daydreaming of opening their own place.
After several false starts with construction, Artesian Contracting was brought on to finish the job, as well as Pink + Wooderson, a Detroit-based design firm, whose previous projects include fellow Brush Park establishments Grey Ghost and Second Best bar. The interior features exposed brick for a subtle industrial feel, but is refined with dark wood accenting the bar and elsewhere, crushed velvet, and an open kitchen area with white subway tiles.
Bar Pigalle is currently open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday and 4 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and is located at 2915 John R. St. Reservations can be made using the following link.