The Birmingham City Commission on Monday approved requests for two existing restaurants and one future restaurant to move forward with their requests for bistro liquor licenses.
Representatives of six restaurants — including four that are in the planning stages — had five minutes each to tell the commission why their establishment would flourish in Birmingham if granted a bistro license, which is a special liquor license granted to smaller establishments in the city.
In the end, the Birmingham Sushi Cafe, What Crepe? and the potential new restaurant, Crush, were chosen to move forward into the next round. The three selections will go before the Planning Board at a later date. Under the city's 2007 bistro ordinance, only two bistro licenses are approved each year. Bistros are defined as having seasonal sidewalk seating, a full-service kitchen and no more than 65 seats.
The Birmingham Sushi Cafe
By a unanimous vote, Birmingham Sushi was selected, primarily based on its location and loyalty to Birmingham. Located on Hamilton Row, the restaurant has been in business since 2009 and serves sushi, Japanese food, Asian fusion and is the only restaurant within the city to offer Korean food. Birmingham Sushi, which applied for a bistro license last year, hopes to receive one to enhance its "zen-like atmosphere." The alcohol will be served at the sushi bar, and there may be a new addition of appetizers created to pair with the drinks.
"It could immediately start to draw even more people to Birmingham," said Keith Logsdon, architect of the project.
What Crepe?, in business since February in Birmingham, is seeking a bistro license to match that of their Royal Oak location. Owner Paul Jenkins, Jr. cites that 20 percent of his business at that location comes from drinks alone.
"We've proven ourselves over the past three years in Royal Oak," said Jenkins, Jr. "My job was to let people know that we're here and we're staying here."
Jenkins, Jr. says his establishment looks beyond the traditional cuisine, where people can now enjoy crepes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. He says he receives questions every day asking if he will soon be serving alcohol and cites customer satisfaction as his first priority, feeding more than 4,000 per month.
The last candidate to move forward is Crush, a potential new bistro inside the 555 Building near Birmingham's Triangle District. Crush was selected primarily because of its potential new location, as Mayor Nickita claimed that it would "activate the south end."
Crush, which would be operated by the owners of Sinbads Restaurant in Detroit, would serve decadent seafood and meat options. The owners believe that it would attract a "large amount of foot traffic from the residential neighborhoods".
Parking would not be an issue for Crush as patrons would be able to use the existing parking garage near the building. Further details concerning Crush's potential development will be discussed at a future Planning Board meeting.
The other candidates
Three candidates did not make the cut at Monday night's meeting:
- Craft Republic - Operated by the same owner as the Townhouse, the potential bistro would be pizza-oriented, serving meals in a casual and sophisticated setting. Crafted beers, from many of Michigan's breweries, would be available at a full-service bar. The address would be 255 S. Old Woodward.
- The Foundry Kitchen - At the north end of town, the Foundry Room envisions being a small single story restaurant with a roof terrace and outdoor platform. An "eclectic and warm" atmosphere, the restaurant would use ingredients from the nearby Birmingham Farmers' Market to create its dishes.
- Twenty-Five Degrees - Taking over the former Olga's location downtown, this would be the sixth location for Twenty-Five Degrees and run by the same owners as its Chicago location. The establishment would serve gourmet cuisine in a setting of tiled wallpaper and black chandeliers.
The Commission agreed together that all six candidates formulated good ideas for their bistros, but the main reason for not choosing these three was based on location.
A date for the Planning Board meeting has not yet been set.