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Commission Approves Changes of Operation for Downtown Bars

Royal Oak Police do not object to requests from Bastone and newcomer Sabrage, which is set to open in mid-November.

Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue advises the city commission Monday night.
Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue advises the city commission Monday night.

With its grand opening just a couple of weeks away Dexter Hospitality Holdings, L.L.C. got the approval of the Royal Oak City Commission to tweak its plan of operation for its 9,500-square feet of space in the former Sangria Tapas Café, which closed in January. 

Aaron F. Belen, 30, is behind the new venture at 401 S. Lafayette. The first-floor restaurant will be named Bistro 82 and will serve "classic dishes in a café setting," and it could open by mid-November, Belen told commissioners. 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,” he told Patch last summer.

[Read and see photos: New Royal Oak Bistro Sure to Make a Splash with Aquarium, Onyx Bars and More]

Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue said he had no objections to Belen's request to add DJ music on both levels, increase the overall seating from 159 seats to 163 seats and to change the end time for live entertainment on both floors to 2 a.m.

Belen has also hired a third-party independent structural engineer to oversee the installation of a 960-gallon aquarium that will be added to the second floor. 

"We have received emails from people concerned about the fish that are going be in there, in particular they are worried about sharks," said Mayor Jim Ellison. "What is the plan to make sure these animals are well taken care of?"

There are no plans for sharks at this point, said attorney Scott McDonald.

"It will just be standard aquatic marine fish," McDonald said.

"I am sure the attorneys at the table will like to hear that," joked Commissioner Carlo Ginotti.

Commissioners unanimously approved the changes to the Plan of Operation for the establishment. (Commissioner Peggy Goodwin was not present.)

Bastone and Detroit Zoo OK'd, too

Commissioners also allowed the Bastone empire, which includes Monk, Vinotecca and Commune, to amend its the Plan of Operation and increase table seating on the first floor by 8 seats to 74 seats and decrease table seating on the second floor by 3 to 16 seats. 

And police had no objections to allowing the Detroit Zoo to use one or two portable bars as needed in the Royal Oak portion of the zoo.

The zoo currently has a Class C License with the city of Huntington Woods that permits a permanent bar in the Arctic Cafe and a portable bar in the Wildlife preserve. Both areas are in Huntington Woods.

The zoo also petitioned for an entertainment permit that would allow it to occasionally show movies on the premises. 

Commissioners unanimously approved the requests from Bastone and the Detroit Zoo. 

Patience October 22, 2013 at 11:24 AM
As far as the zoo goes, is the permit to show movies one that will be placed in the "Royal oak area" of the zoo? what area of the zoo is the 3d/4d theater they currently have located in? Does that said area require an entertainment permit? Is the 3d/4d theater not suitable for showing standard movies?
Judy Davids (Editor) October 22, 2013 at 11:52 AM
Good question Patience. I made a call to the Zoo to get an answer.
TJO October 22, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Has the commission ever said no to a bar? Or do they just reserve that for the residence.
l.c. October 23, 2013 at 10:12 AM
looks like a rubber stamp PD department.understaffed yet have no problem speaking out concerning potential increase in drunk/disorder runs.any commisioners for safe neighborhoods who have residents priorities ought to speak up.
Jack Manning October 23, 2013 at 10:12 AM
Sharks! Some people concerned about whether there will be Sharks in the aquarium.....where do these people come from? And the silliness continues.
Jeffrey Newton October 23, 2013 at 03:41 PM
Bistro 82/Sabrage sought and received permission to feature LIVE music on both floors until 2:00 a.m.... ...but they ALSO sought and received permission to have DJs on both floors..... "Live music is best," and DJs are NOT "live" music!!! They play prerecorded music that others performed, produced, and/or recorded. They may fiddle with/tweak that music, but live musicians they are not. Let's hope these new bars actually DO hire LIVE MUSICIANS. Meanwhile, you might still find me playing saxophone on the sidewalks of Royal Oak if the weather warms up! :)

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