Two long-time Detroit restaurant veterans are pairing up to open a new bar in a familiar space. Tocororo will debut in mid-March in the former Stache International space in Eastern Market. The co-owners, Connor Payne and David Previch, will be ready to serve refreshing, fruity cocktails, beer, non-alcoholic drinks, and food in time for St. Patrick’s Day.
Handling the beverage side will be Connor Payne, formerly of Checker Bar downtown and McShane’s in Corktown. The bar program will emphasize bright flavors and fresh ingredients, says Payne.
“We’ll be perfecting a lot of the classics, like piña coladas, strawberry daiquiris, and jungle birds,” he says. “Good, tasty comfort drinking.”
The “comfort drinking” blends with the theme of the bar, which is designed to offer a colorful respite to dreary winter Michigan days. “We want to build a little bit of warmth in Michigan that’s here all year round,” says Previch. “The tocororo is a bird that lives in Cuba. It was the inspiration for the color palette that we’re going to be using. Having something that could fly and be bold in the name and the concept,” he says, is central to their laid-back approach.
Payne and Previch had been looking for a space for about a year, and knew they found the right one when they talked with then-Stache’s owners, Ray and Gracie Moses. “We tied the concept to the space, as opposed to vice versa,” says Payne. “We wanted to build a space to complete rather than compete” with other bars in Eastern Market, and with what had been there before.
Stache owners Ray and Gracie Moses, says Previch, “could not have been easier to work with.” Stache’s two iconic carousel horses that dominated the bar were ceremoniously cut down on the bar’s final day and went home with the Moseses and a friend, but the massive golden poles that they were attached to remain. They’ll be cut from the bar and capped with a pair of horse figurines, and the remaining poles will be incorporated into the railing for the new stage, which will host live music, DJs, and other performers. Payne and Previch plan to continue featuring art exhibits by local artists.
Helming the kitchen is Previch, who has managed kitchens in Portland, Oregon, Chicago, New York, and Detroit. He also worked with Payne at Checker Bar. Tocororo’s food, says Previch, will focus on “eclectic street food with a seasonally rotating menu from all over the world,” including smoked chicken legs, pierogi, dumplings, bao buns, and burgers. The menu will also be vegan-friendly, with vegan options for most of the menu items.
“It will be comforting, deep-flavor recipes. The whole menu from the cocktail menu to the bar program to the food program is going to be accessible, both financially and from a flavor perspective,” says Previch. “We just want to make a comfortable, warm, inviting space for the Detroit community to enjoy.”
Payne and Previch hope to have the bar ready to open by mid-March. To start, Tocororo will be open Thursday and Friday nights and all day and evening on weekends, including for brunch service.. Brunch will feature an eclectic collection of breakfast sandwiches and global dishes with an emphasis on casual rather than formal entrees. The co-owners will renovate and adapt the space during off-hours, and hope to surprise guests with new improvements over the course of several months. Says Previch, “A hospitality space takes on the soul of the people who come here. Ray and Gracie had a great stewardship over the last eight years and we’re lucky enough to be the next stewards of this space.”