Slows expanding, adding more seats and offerings

Detroit’s most famous restaurant is currently going through a much-needed expansion.
Slows BAR BQ, which has been covered in national media from the New York Times to Food & Wine and was a 2012 finalist in Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America on the Travel Channel, is largely credited with kick-starting the rebirth of Corktown, attracting several new independent businesses on its block of Michigan Avenue and leading to what is now a total lack of available rental units according to Ryan Cooley, co-owner of Slows and owner of O’Connor Realty.
The original Slows space, which seats about 80 indoors (not including the seasonal outdoor patio), was ill-equipped to handle large parties, and long wait times inside the enormously popular restaurant inevitably led to a lot of bottle-necking at the front door by the bar.
"We're adding on the new space but it will serve as more a beer bar, private dining room and waiting area," Cooley says. "With bigger parties this is really going to help with efficiencies."
The new 1,200-square-foot space, which is overtaking the former office of O’Connor Realty (which has since relocated down the block), will be connected by a door to the original location but will in effect be its own separate space ideal for private parties and grabbing a drink while waiting for a table.
The new bar will feature 36 tap handles, many of which will be duplicate selections from the bar in the main restaurant for efficiency’s sake. The beer cooler will be expanding and moved into the basement, freeing up additional space upstairs.
Behind the scenes, the kitchen will also be expanding into the new space and will be fully updated. "We opened on such a shoestring budget the first time through we had to buy used equipment. This will allow things to be more streamlined," Cooley says.
This is good news for serious barbecue enthusiasts, as this will enable Slows to slow down their smoke times and make a good product even better. Chef and co-owner Brian Perrone will also be able to host more beer dinners and run additional specials, allowing him more creativity in the kitchen.
Cooley says that by the time the kitchen is expanded and bathrooms added, the new space will add about 20 new seats. "We didn’t want to add to ton of space, really. We didn’t want a huge open-feeling space. We kind of wanted to keep it small and intimate."
At press time the main restaurant is on track to re-open on their target date of Jan. 9, while the new space may be delayed just a day or two.
Source: Ryan Cooley, co-owner of Slows
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Nicole Rupersburg is a former Detroiter now in Las Vegas who regularly writes about food, drink, and urban innovators. You can follow her on Instagram @eatsdrinksandleaves and Twitter @ruperstarski.