The Stand Restaurant in the Greenleaf Trust Building at Maple and Woodward will be reinvented as Hazel Ravines and Downtown, a casual and creative eatery with a grab-and-go market in a reworked front lobby area, after receiving unanimous support from the Birmingham Planning Board on Wednesday, May 23, to recommend approval for its final site plan review and special land use permit to the city commission.
Birmingham Planning Director Matt Baka explained that operator Beth Hussey and chef Emmele Herrold were proposing to make exterior and interior changes and to change the name. The new owners were seeking to change awnings on the building, add planters, rework the vestibules and the entrance with indoor and outdoor dining, add three new raised evergreen shrubs reading “HRB” in an area in front of the building, and add painted metal trellises with nine-foot high climbing hydrangeas.
“As it is an economic development license, it is not restricted in size nor does it require outdoor dining,” Baka said.
The raised evergreen shrubs were not a hit with planning board members, who also pointed out that they would be placed in the roadway's right-of-way – and Woodward is owned by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), who would have to approve it. Board members also pointed out the lettering was considered non-compliant signage.
Baka explained that in the front area of the restaurant they want to remove storefront glazing on the Peabody Street side and create an outdoor market, “a grab-and-go market, where you can eat in or outdoors, or just take and go,” he said. Plans also showed that they would enlarge the bar area, the conference room, and break up a large banquet room and the large dining room, called “cavernous,” and create three new smaller banquet rooms, while keeping the existing kitchen.
Designer Roman Bonislawski of Ron & Roman of Birmingham said, “We're not proposing to serve out there (the lobby/outdoor area), nor are we proposing outdoor dining. This is a challenging piece of property – that's obvious. There's about $12 million that's been invested into the restaurants (referring to former establishments, Zazio's and The Stand).”
He said of Housey, former Kramer Restaurant Group partner, of One-Eyed Betty's and Pop's Italian fame in Ferndale, along with Herrold, that they were not proposing to recreate those restaurants in Birmingham, but rather to create a vibrant center.
“When we contemplated the property and all the traffic at Maple and Woodward, we looked at the opportunities to make this a vibrant center, beginning with breakfast, with grab-and-go coffee, pastries, to service the population,” Bonislawski said.
He noted they were facing challenges in creating a welcoming environment in the space, which is a large building lobby. “This is a casual hangout space for this restaurant,” he said, which will have well over 200 seats. The Stand had 210 seats.
Housey and Herrold are tentatively proposing a three-part menu, one more “homey,” the second, more “avant garde and edgy,” Bonislawski said, and the third, “Birmingham,” representing different neighborhoods and populations in the city. “We're all in agreement that this is its best opportunity to succeed.”
“The food is number one. If the food isn't good, it doesn't matter how it looks,” said planning board member Bryan Williams, noting the previous establishments. “I like the interior changes.”
“I can't tell you how much I dislike the 'HRD' landscaping – and I'd bet you wouldn't get that approved by the state,” said chairperson Scott Clein.
Bonislawski said he would pull it from the plans.
“I really like the interior improvements. I love the interior patio – you're going to get so much morning and afternoon traffic,” said board member Janelle Whipple-Boyce. “I'm not a huge fan of the 'HRD.'”
Board members unanimously voted to recommend approval of the final site plan and special land use permit to the city commission for final approvals.