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Tavern 131 Owner Says Old Fenton Fire Hall Has Great Potential

Fenton Fire Hall selection committee conducted interview Tuesday

Restaurant owner Toni Vulaj said he can bring people into the old Fenton Fire Hall.

"It is a historic location with a great amount of potential," said Vulaj, owner of Tavern 131 in Milford and in Brighton. "I know how important a thriving downtown is. This could be a staple stone for Fenton."

Vulaj said he planned to have patio for people to enjoy the view of downtown Fenton. He also stressed he wanted to incorporate the historics of the fire hall in his concept, perhaps using old artifacts. He said he even sees the location on a postcard some day.

"People remember what a place was and it attracts people to the venue," Vulaj said. "You can have a great restaurant, but if you don't have a great concept people won't come

The restaurants plans to provide fine casual dining with everything from burger and fries to filet mignon and pan seared tuna. They would also plan to offer more than 20 beers on tap. His current restaurants' menu consist of sandwiches, burgers, pizza, steak, fish, chicken and more. Dinner entrees ranged from $8.99 to $22.99 with most burgers and sandwiches between $6.99 and $8.99.

"It encompasses everything," Vulaj said. "The key today is a reasonable price."

The plans also include entertainment several nights a week.

He said construction would take six to eight months and cost $700,000 to $1 million. Vulaj applied for the old Fenton Fire Hall two years ago, when the DDA chose .

"I don’t plan to make a dollar for the first two years," Vulaj said. "I want to make sure the people of Fenton get want they want." 

The interview process

The selection committee consists of DDA director Michael Burns, DDA member Tom Bertschy, City Manager Lynn Markland, DDA Vice Chairman Jim Saule and DDA member Doug James, similar to the group that previously selected .

Interviews will began at 11 a.m. Tuesday. After, a financial analysis of the final candidates will be conducted that may take up to 30 days to complete. A recommendation from the committee will then be made to the full DDA Board for approval. The schedule for interviews is as follows:

  • 11 a.m. with the owners of, the Detroit Beer Company and Royal Oak Brewing Company.
  • 12 p.m. with the owners of Tavern 131 and .
  • 1:45 p.m. with the owners of Arbor Brewing Company.
  • 2:45 p.m. with the owners of Union Joints (Clarkston Union and Union Woodshop).

Read about the other old Fenton Fire Hall interviews on Fenton Patch.

The Fire Hall Selection Committee hopes to narrow the list of finalists following the interviews Tuesday afternoon.

The group hopes to have decisions finalized by the DDA meeting on June 19.

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