Plans to renovate the kitchen and enclose the outdoor patio to create a four-seasons patio room at the Maple Theater received a positive recommendation on Monday, February 4, from the Bloomfield Township Planning Commission.
Theater owner Jon Goldstein told the commission the changes are intended to stem losses from its current food and beverage business, which hasn't been able to achieve sales needed to cover increasing labor costs associated with running a quality food establishment. The current restaurant and cafe are dependent on theater traffic, which peaks Friday and Saturday nights, but is almost empty during other times of the week.
The renovations will facilitate plans to partner with a local private chef, Nishan Andonian, who has expanding clientele, allowing the theater to offload costs with food preparation, but still benefit from sales. During slow times, the labor in the kitchen can be utilized for Andonian's private clients.
Goldstein said the cafe will incorporate coffee and fast casual offerings at a coffee counter area, but will no longer be branded under the Great Lakes Coffee name. He said the food operation will center on counter service, rather than be a full service restaurant.
“It's his menu,” Goldstein said of the chef. “There's not enough traffic to support a sit-down restaurant. It compares to Plum Market at the airport — most people that eat at the theater are in a rush to make a movie. We believe that getting people food faster will allow more of our theater patrons to enjoy eating at the Maple. We think having more 'grab and go' food will allow people to not only sit in the cafe, but grab food to bring into the theater to enjoy during their film.”
Andonian has about a decade of experience in commercial food service in the metro Detroit area, including working as a sous chef at Bistro Joe's in Birmingham from 2010 to 2012. He later became a private chef for a family in Bloomfield Hills, and has been cooking for multiple private families in the area for the past four years.
Bloomfield Township Deputy Director of Planning Andrea Bibby said the proposed patio renovations will add about 411 square-feet of floor space to the cafe area, which will be used throughout the entire year. She said the site plan doesn't call for any changes to setbacks, building footprint or parking requirements.
The proposed plans will add a covered walkway with lighting, as well as a rear entrance door leading to the theater space to allow pedestrian traffic to gain access to the rear of the theater.
The proposed four-season patio will utilize a mix of black aluminum siding with an acrylic finish and reclaimed wood siding. Landscaping along the existing six-foot wide sidewalk will be planted, as well as the addition of a roof-mounted planter box.
No changes are requested to the theater's Class C liquor license, which was obtained in 2012.
The proposed patio addition includes a heated slab and indoor heaters for cold weather. Hard window panels, instead of canvas or plastic, will have the ability to flip upward to attach to the interior for an open-air feel in warmer conditions.
The township's design review committee in January recommended the planning commission approve a recommendation to the township board to approve the proposed plans, pending conditions. Those conditions include the requirement that any future signage requests come before the review board, as well as a requirement for the owner to be responsible for maintenance of water and sewer lines located beneath the patio.
Planning commissioners on February 4 voted unanimously to forward the site plan and special land use request to the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees with recommendation for approval.