Detroit Restaurants, Grey Ghost, Lumen, and Detroit City Distillery Talk About Winter Plans
Before March of this year, a new restaurant seemed to be popping up on every corner of town. Like restaurants San Morello, Yum Village, Sevant and Magnet provided great, delicious and innovative culinary experiences in early 2020. The nationwide quarantine should only last a few weeks, then a month, then two, then four. As we near the seventh month, the end of the coronavirus pandemic just seems nowhere in sight.
The ugly truth about a pandemic is that life goes on. The rent has to be paid, the children have to study, the refrigerators have to be filled with groceries. For restaurant owners and employees alike, this spinning ferris wheel that neither of us can get off is real, nerve-wracking, and terrifying. Summer was busy for many restaurants in Detroit. Many dedicated customers support the Detroit food scene. But what does this next step mean for the local restaurants as we enter the long cold season?
The chief financial officer and one of the owners of Gray ghostDave Vermiglio says, “There were a lot of projections.” Just as the Ferris wheel never stops, every rotation is unfamiliar. Nobody really knows what’s next. “I think the word for 2020 is ‘linchpin’,” says Vermiglio.
How do we do what we love, but protect our team and our guests? There is no road map.
For every restaurant in town, the answer to the open question is different, but filled with a similar amount of hope.
The managing partner of LumensGabby Milton says she is hopeful that guests will continue to strive to enjoy their beautiful space during the winter. Milton is far from wrong to say the restaurant is beautiful. Lumen offers a nice look at Beacon park with its numerous windows and two outdoor fireplaces. Soon, their outdoor seating will be transformed into geographic igloos and glass chalets that provide seating for small groups in a confined space.
Lumen is currently 50% busy and has a time limit of two hours for customers. The hope is that this will ensure a faster turnaround for fewer seats in winter. “We try to be creative about how to draw business and keep everyone happy and healthy,” says Milton. Lumen also has special lights that are designed to kill coronavirus germs.
Detroit City DistilleryDCD is addressing a fundamental change. Since the tasting room has very little seating and no windows, the distillery is planning a seasonal move to theirs Whiskey factory. This large, open space allows for more seating as well as the opportunity for social distancing. The founder and partner of DCD, Mike Forsyth, talks about the production of spirits and their presentation in cocktails for guests. “That’s what we’re passionate about,” he says. “We want to find a way to continue doing this, and we want to make people happy.”
There is no earth-shattering destination or grand scheme for DCD as winter approaches. The plan is simply to drive the Ferris wheel as far as it will go, or at least to drive slowly enough that everyone can find their way around the world again.
It’s about keeping people busy and breaking even, Forsyth says. That is our main goal.
Gray Ghost is looking for a addition that could cost more than it’s worth. Unlike lumens, which just add to their already
Gray Ghost acquired a number of igloos and glass chalets and added a covered terrace to the exterior of their building. “It is a nerve-wracking time to spend a lot of money,” says Vermiglio, “but there is a need to protect our employees and guests and to keep doing what we do.”
It seems that the coined saying “you have to spend money to make money” is that all restaurant owners can now place their hopes. Vermiglio says, “If we can add more seating with this covered terrace, we can make some of that money [we spent on it]. “But even with hope, additional seating, and new locations, Vermiglio asks,” Will people keep coming out and traveling to Detroit for the winter to enjoy some food and drink? “
But even if we ask that question, there really is no answer. We can predict and hope, but no one is sure where this journey will end. Of course, the best is hoped for and the worst is planned. So let’s keep trudging into winter, into the eighth, tenth or twelfth month of quarantine, and do our best. Let’s do our best for ourselves, our favorite restaurants and our community. Let’s help each other as we unwittingly spin around the axis of life.