This summer, a season like no other in most of our lifetimes, may have lured many into a false sense of normality. Restaurants with the room to put tables outdoors have done so, and if you can grab one to share a meal with friends on a summer night, it can almost seem like the BeforeTimes.
But fall and winter are coming. With cool weather only weeks away, soon outdoor dining will stop, forcing a choice: To go inside and share the air? Or resign yourself to another night of carryout?
Those warm patio nights may also hide an uncomfortable truth: Many of these restaurants are barely hanging on.
“People don’t want to go out,” said Paul PJ Ryder, owner at PJ’s Lager House, known for its bar and music acts, but with a full-service kitchen, too. “Many of these restaurants are operating at 20 percent of what they need to make a profit.”
The casualties are already piling up: Magnet, in Core City, which launched in fall 2019 to great acclaim, closed its doors for good this spring. Others are teetering on the brink.
Ryder said he was motivated to post on Facebook about his colleagues’ problems after he noticed this: “Every time I go by McDonald’s there’s a line out the door. You have to wait 20 minutes for a hamburger. Why not take the extra 15 minutes to order a burger from a local place, which will be so much better?”
With that in mind, if you plan a meal out, at any level from casual to white-tablecloth, it’s wise to make a phone call to see if they’re open and if you can be accommodated, especially if you're set on eating outdoors.
We did some checking, too. For downtown workers and those who like to eat there, here’s the lay of the land.
The Townhouse, 500 Woodward: The popular foot-of-Woodward spot is no longer open for weekday lunch, but still has a brunch running on Saturdays and Sundays, starting at noon. Both it and its sister location in Birmingham have sanitation protocols posted on their website, including no-touch menus accessed by aiming your phone’s camera at a QR code.
Urban Bean, 200 Grand River: Owner Josh Greenwood’s Capitol Park coffee shop is one of the few pieces of non-Bedrock real estate left in this part of downtown. He’s closed, but for renovations, not Covid. With a recently granted liquor license, Greenwood expects to reopen around late November, depending on how construction and the city permitting goes.
Brome Modern Eatery, 607 Shelby: The Dearborn location is open. There’s still no date as to when the Detroit spot will reopen.
Leila, 1245 Griswold: The modern Middle Eastern restaurant is open for dinner only Wednesday through Sunday.
Plum Market, Detroit: The popular grab-and-go lunch spot is currently closed at both the downtown and Midtown location in the Pistons’ training center. Other locations are open.
Wright & Co., 1500 Woodward: Open, but with limited hours. It’s only open for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, starting at 5 p.m., and with reservations suggested, booked through Resy or call directly to the restaurant. (Parties of eight or more are encouraged to call ahead and make special arrangements.)
Checker Bar, 124 Cadillac Square: Recently closed, undergoing renovations. No reopening date yet.
LaLanterna, 1224 Griswold: Serving pizza and Northern Italian favorites. Open for lunch and dinner six days a week. Indoor and outdoor seating.
Hudson Cafe, 1241 Woodward: Open with restrictions that include: No pirates bigger than six, customers must wait outside until getting a text for their table. Open seven days a week for breakfast and extended lunch.
Texas de Brazil, 1000 Woodward: The restaurant is now just open for dinner, six days a week. Closed on Monday. People can no longer go to the buffet. They check off what they want and the waitstaff brings it to the table.
The Apparatus Room, 250 W. Larned: The restaurant inside the Foundation Hotel had been doing a pop-up pizza offering for the past few weeks. On Friday night, it officially reopened. Hours are limited to Friday to Sunday, 5-10 p.m.
Buddy’s Pizza, 1565 Broadway: Eat indoors, outside or carryout daily. Closes at 9 p.m. and at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Lovers Only, 34 E. Grand River: The Capitol Park lunch spot serves walk-up customers only, at the Iggy’s Eggies window on the Grand River side Wednesday through Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dime Store, 719 Griswold: Temporarily closed while undergoing renovations. Last check, they hoped to reopen in September.
San Morello, 1400 Woodward: Open for dinner outdoors and indoors Tuesday- Saturday. Brunch served Saturday and Sunday 10-3 p.m.
Caucus Club, 150 W. Congress: It never gets old, telling people Barbra Streisand played here in 1961. Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Check hours on the website. Entertainment on Friday and Saturday.
London Chop House, 155 W. Congress: It’s no longer a big deal to be seated at Table #1. But it’s still a snazzy place with lots of history. Open for lunch Monday through Friday and open for dinner Monday through Saturday.
Grand Trunk Pub, 612 Woodward: Closed. No reopening date yet.
Gateway Deli, 333 W. Fort: Open weekdays for breakfast and lunch.
Anita’s Kitchen, 150 W. Jefferson: Temporarily closed. No reopening date yet.
Joe Muer Seafood, 400 Renaissance Center: Open for lunch and dinner, with temperature checks required for staff and guests. Touchless menus available via QR codes and other safety measures.
Avalon Cafe and Bakery, 1049 Woodward: The bakery and restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Republic Tavern, 1942 Grand River: Plans to reopen Sept. 18.
Roast, 1128 Washington Blvd.: The award-winning restaurant just reopened on Thursday. It’s serving Tuesday-Saturday.
Athens Souvlaki, Detroit: A popular lunch spot for lawyers, federal courthouse workers and reporters. Located across the street from the Detroit Free Press and News. Reduced hours are Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bar is open.
Mootz Pizzeria, 1230 Library: Indoor and outdoor seating daily for lunch and dinner.. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Open until midnight on Friday and Saturday.
La Pecora Nera, 1514 Washington Blvd: This little Italian deli is offering carry-out only Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Central Kitchen + Bar, 660 Woodward: Reopening on Thursday, Sept. 10, It will be open Thursday-Sunday with limited hours. Check Instagram for hours.
Maru Sushi and Grill, 160 W. Fort: Patio and indoor dining open from 3-8 p.m. Tuesday- Saturday
Basement Burger Bar, 1326 Brush: Open daily 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Brass Rail Pizza Bar, 18 W. Adams: Open daily until 11 p.m. during the week and midnight on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Go Sy Thai, 1226 Griswold: Carryout weekdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and weekends 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The same for the Cass location.
Fishbones Greektown Detroit, 400 Monroe: Open daily, starting at 11 a.m.
American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island on West Lafayette Boulevard: Survivors forever are open daily.
Prime + Proper, 1145 Griswold: They take customers’ temperature when entering. Happy hour and dinner through the week and brunch Sunday. Closed Monday.
7 Greens, 1222 Library: Open weekdays for delivery, curbside pickup and catering 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Pegasus Taverna, 558 Monroe: Greektown remains open for business. The dining room at Pegasus is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Greenwich Prime Time Pub, 130 Cadillac Square: Patio service only, six days a week. Closed Sundays. Planning soon to open indoor dining.
Niki’s Pizza Greektown, 735 Beaubien: Outdoor and indoor dining is open daily. Hours vary.
Orchid Thai Restaurant, 115 Monroe -- Carryout only Monday-Saturday.
Calexico Detroit, 1040 Woodward: Indoor and outdoor seating daily for lunch and dinner. Open until 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Vicente's Cuban Cuisine, 1250 Library: Dining and carryout available daily.