If corporate chain investment serves as the major validation of downtown vibrancy, then the recent announcement of
Buffalo Wild Wings
plans to open a restaurant near Greektown is a big stamp of approval of just how far the revitalization of downtown Detroit has come.
"I have been looking at that site for 3.5 years," says Michael Ansley, president & CEO of Diversified Restaurant Holdings
, which is a Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee. "I see Detroit starting to come back."
The Southfield-based company plans to open its newest location in the Temple of the Odd Fellows building at the corner of Randolph and Monroe streets, halfway between Campus Martius and Greektown Casino. The $3 million project will renovate the first two floors of the four-story building, which Buffalo Wild Wings will occupy with its normal restaurant/bar and a second floor banquent room. The owner of the building bought the small adjacent lot to the north and plans to build the sports bar's kitchen there and a rooftop deck on top of it that will be accessible from the banquent room.
"It's a really cool building," Ansley says. "It has a lot of potential. There are not a lot of places where I will control a four-story facade. When you look at that building from Campus Martius it really sticks out."
Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants have begun popping up in some of Metro Detroit's most vibrant downtowns, including Ferndale and Ann Arbor. Construction on the downtown Detroit location is set to begin soon. The sports bar is expected to open in November.
The Odd Fellows building, 1211 Randolph, almost didn't make it to this point. The circa-1874 building is the tallest on a block of commercial buildings that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building has gone through various redevelopment plans that have improved it in fits and starts. The back end of the building blew off in a fierce wind storm a few years ago and was ordered demolished before receiving a reprieve and a new lease on life.
Diversified Restaurant Holdings also owns Bagger Dave's
, a popular burger restaurant chain. Ansley was originally looking at incorporating one of those restaurants into the Buffalo Wild Wings project, too, but couldn't make it work. He is still looking for a downtown Detroit location for Bagger Dave's.
Source: Michael Ansley, president & CEO of Diversified Restaurant Holdings
Writer: Jon Zemke
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