I’d had been looking forward to the opening of Michigan Brewing Company in Fenton since I moved back to the area a year and half ago.
Many sources told me there would be plenty of interested parties and that I wouldn’t be disappointed in the applicants. As the Fenton Downtown Development Authority revealed Tuesday, they were right. Owners of several reputable businesses applied and I am excited to see which is chosen.
Many people had commented on Fenton Patch that they would like to see a place like the Clarkston Union or the Union Woodshop (The 2010 Detroit Free Press Restaurant of the year) and wouldn’t you know it, their owners applied. It is a dream scenario for some.
However, as a complete beer geek, another name on the list made me thirsty: the owners of Ann Arbor-based Arbor Brewing Company and the Corner Brewery. Their beer is outstanding and definitely on another level than the Michigan Brewing Company. The Corner Brewery, which is a branch of the Arbor Brewing Company in Ypsilanti, is one of my favorite places around. I go there every time I visit a friend who lives nearby. It is an old brick building (just like the old fire hall) in Depot Town. Every time we go, we sit on couches near a fireplace and play board games and sip delicious beer (Had the Epresso Love stout last time) and order pizza or a sandwich. It is a very relaxed atmosphere that would fit Fenton perfectly. The Ann Arbor location is more of a restaurant. I would guess plans for Fenton might be a cross between the two.
The menu consists of delectable sandwiches to andouille & salmon etouffee and fettuccine aurora. A taste of both the simple and elegant.
Royal Oak Brewery and Detroit Beer Company are much the same way. I often stop into Detroit Beer Company for a beer and pizza before Tigers games. I visited the Royal Oak Brewery for the first time last week and was very impressed. I sat outside on a patio and enjoyed some delicious food and the beer tasted better than I expected. I would very much favor a place with casual dining with prices that are affordable. These places would fall into that category.
On my last two birthdays, I’ve celebrated with dinner at the Clarkston Union and then the Union Woodshop. The food is and out of this world and I love choosing from the 40 beers on tap, but prices are a tad high.
I’ve never been to Tavern 131 in Milford or Ciao Amici in Brighton. I'm told Ciao Amici has good food, but is rather pricey.
Ciao Amici's owner Toni Vulaj said he was looking at Fenton to expand his business because he has had a lot of customers from Fenton come to his restaurants in Brighton and Milford.
"I just think it would be a good hub," Vulaj said of Fenton. "And it's not too far from my other locations, where I can keep a hands-on operation so I can be there to make sure that everybody is taken care of."
Vulaj said he would like to turn the old fire hall into a casual fine dining restaurant - similar to what he did with Tavern 131 in Milford. He said he would like large dinner and lunch menus with 20 to 30 beers on tap and fine wines.
"We want to make it into a nice neighborhood bar/grill," he said. "I want to make it warm and inviting to people. I have a lot of ideas, but it's still too early to share."
I’m not ready to count my chickens (will it be three or five? Fenton City Council still has to decide), but I believe these applicants trump Michigan Brewing Company and can be a great addition to Fenton.
Let’s hope a deal can be reached, renovations start and we can all celebrate sooner than later.