A new Europeon-style restaurant—with an Italian tile façade, Spanish flooring and French bistro concept—is headed into town this summer.
Aaron F. Belen, 30, is behind the new
venture in downtown Royal Oak. He purchased the liquor license and building of
the former 9,500-square-foot Sangria Tapas Cafe at 401 S. Lafayette. The new bistro
will serve "classic dishes in a café setting," and it could open by
early September, said Belen.
"There isn’t a better corner," he said of the intersection of Lafayette and Fourth Street.
The first-floor restaurant will be named Bistro 82; upstairs will be an ultra-lounge, Sabrage, in the former Sky Club that once was perched above Sangria.
Belen’s vision is clean and unique and he is investing millions in the hopes of pulling patrons from Ann Arbor, Grosse Pointe, Detroit, Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham to Royal Oak’s “cool, hip, up and coming vibe.”
About Bistro 82
Bistro 82 is approved for 159 “spacious, comfortable, plush” seats, including a dozen seats at a 22- to 24-feet black onyx bar serving “superior” cocktails, Belen said.
“There is nothing like it in Michigan," he said.
Also on the first level is a floor-to-ceiling glass wine cellar featuring 325 bottles of wine on a custom racking system. There is also a private dining room that comes complete with audio/visual capabilities, which can comfortably seat 20 guests.
Audio is a big piece of the atmosphere. With a custom sound system by Harman, the sound will be on point, Belen said.
“Not too loud, but crisp and rich."
Finally, Belen promises to give patrons a five-course meal for the price of a three-course meal.
When a patron finishes his or her steak frites, Belen is hoping they "don’t go home and go to bed" but rather head upstairs to Sabrage.
Aquarium sure to make a splashThe second-story Sabrage, which is approved for up to 226 patrons, will have a dance floor, DJ booth and stage for live jazz performances and other entertainment.
A champagne cellar is a part of the plans, as is a garden terrace and a 900-gallon aquarium, specially constructed using high-grade sound and vibration eliminating materials, including soundproof acrylic glass. It’s not just about going out to eat and drink, Belen said, it’s about a show. He promises there will be plenty to look at.
“It’s not going to be a college-like experience,” he said. “We’re after a sophisticated crowd.
Both Bitsro 82 and Sabrage are currently undergoing renovations. Rainy weather earlier in the summer has hurt the schedule but Belen is confident, after months and months of planning, everything will come together and the doors will open to area tastemakers in September.
James Hayosh, owner of Ronin Sushi at 326 W. Fourth St., is excited about Belen’s arrival.
“What he’s doing makes a lot of sense,” Hayosh said. “The town is ready for it.”
Hayosh referred to Lafayette and Fourth as the “revival corner.”
“We’re a bit off the beaten path,” Hayosh said. “We’ll have our own little vibe over here.”