Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac n' Cheez! restaurant to occupy old Marwil Bookstore space in Midtown

Marwil Bookstore was a Detroit institution, serving Wayne State University students since 1948. That bookstore closed in 2013, thanks, in part, to competition from the Internet. Gary Sussman used to shop at that bookstore as a Wayne State student. Today, he and his wife and business partner Lorraine Platman are busy renovating that building, preparing it for the late-February target opening for their Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac n' Cheez! restaurant. They're even leasing the space from the Marwils themselves.

The Midtown location will be the company's fifth Mac n' Cheez! restaurant. Their company's first franchise location opened in the Renaissance Center earlier this month. That franchise is owned by Randy Dickow, also owner of downtown's Lunchtime Global restaurant.

Platman and Sussman are also the team behind Sweet Lorraine's, the popular full-service restaurants in Livonia and Southfield. The Mac n' Cheez! concept is more of a fast-casual restaurant, featuring soups, salads, and sandwiches in addition to the macaroni and cheese at the heart of the menu. Platman, who develops the menu, has created 14 made-to-order macaroni and cheese dishes.

"The concept is fun but it's also about quality," says Sussman. "It's an interactive process that's unique to mac and cheese."

Sussman says that the Midtown location will open early in the day with a breakfast menu, free Wi-Fi, and a lounge space. The pair hopes to use locally-sourced ingredients, he says. They're looking at products from Corridor Sausage, Detroit Institute of Bagels, and local bakeries. A Michigan-only beer bar is planned.

Howard Ellman, Principal Architect of Birmingham's Dynamic Designs, and Patrick Thompson, creative director of Detroit's Patrick Thompson Design, have been hired to renovate the 3,000-sqare-foot space. Sussman says that they have already pulled away three layers of vinyl flooring to expose original terrazzo tile floors. The drop ceilings have come down, revealing wood beams above. The windows along Cass Avenue, long-filled in with cinder blocks, will also be opened back up.

The partners are also looking at spaces around Campus Martius for another location. Nothing is finalized, however, and that restaurant could end up franchise- or company-owned. Platman and Sussman hope to open their company-owned Midtown location by the end of February.

Source: Gary Sussman, co-owner of Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac n' Cheez!
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.