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, tooCommissioners 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.