After welcoming guests into their metro Detroit restaurants for more than four decades, acclaimed restaurateurs Norm and Bonnie LePage, and their son, Scott LePage, will open their first restaurant in the city of Detroit on the site of the new public park by DTE Energy at Cass and Grand River Ave. The new restaurant, currently under construction, is scheduled to open this fall offering eclectic craft fare, a towering beer list and a distinctive alfresco dining experience.
The LePage family currently oversees operations for the popular Birmingham destinations Big Rock Chophouse and Got Rocks Diamond Crown Cigar Lounge, The Reserve banquet facility and Griffin Claw Brewing Company. In Rochester Hills they own Clubhouse BFD and plan to open a second Griffin Claw Brewing Company location there this fall.
Norm LePage shares more information about the family’s exciting new destination in the heart of the city here.
We’ve been here for most of our lives and love the city. We’ve watched its amazing transformation over the past few years and have been looking for an opportunity to be a part of something special. DTE is creating the ultimate outdoor entertainment experience at the park, with year-round events, music, sports activities and family programing. The park’s great architecture and design and its location – close to the entertainment district and the central business district – made us want to be a part of it.
What can diners expect at your new restaurant?
Our style has always been very casual, fun, family-friendly, with a little something for everyone. The menu will be a refreshing take on great brasserie and Belgium beer garden food and, of course, we’ll feature our renown craft beers from our award-winning Griffin Claw Brewing Company. Guests will have the choice of sitting inside our dining room or bar, or outside on our expansive patio at a table, or around one of two large fire pits. We’ll be bringing the quality and passion our family is known for to this new location.
What’s unique about the building’s architecture?
The restaurant has a stunning modern design with a green living roof terrace and huge glass doors that open up onto the beautiful park and separate the indoor and outdoor dining space. One of my favorite elements is the grand outdoor staircase that leads to the rooftop dining area. There guests will have panoramic views of the park and city skyline. Overall, the space is thoughtfully designed to interweave park activities, live entertainment and gatherings with friends and family to enjoy great food and drinks.
How did you get involved in the restaurant business?
Our first venture was 46 years ago. Bonnie and I were living in Germany and I was working for American Express Bank. We had saved $16,000 and I called my father-in-law and asked him to find me a business to buy so we could move back to the states. We bought a doughnut shop in Dearborn, Southern Cream Doughnut Company, and packaged doughnuts for the Ford Rouge plant. Over the years, we’ve owned more than 20 different restaurant and food businesses – way too many to remember!
How has the restaurant business changed over the years?
Good question, it’s changed bigtime! Customers are clearly looking for a more casual dining experience with smaller portions and shareable items. We are seeing less big meals. It’s really a new approach to dining out.
When did your passion and expertise for brewing craft beer begin?
Well to be honest with you, we started doing this 18 years ago at Big Rock Chophouse before most craft breweries in the country. We had an amazing Brewmaster, Dan Rogers, who kept winning awards and we decided to get more aggressive about beer and opened Griffin Claw Brewing Company in 2013. It’s really been quite an evolution over the years.
What do you attribute your success in the restaurant business to?
My wife, Bonnie. She is our quality police for all of our restaurants and really makes sure everything is the best it can be. My son, Scott, also really gets what’s going on today in the restaurant business and has a great deal of input in everything we do.
What else should people know about your new restaurant?
Our new location in Detroit will offer people attending sporting and entertainment events downtown a convenient and new place to stop for a great meal. Local residents and business people can enjoy lunch or a drink after work. Our menu will offer delicious, quality food and a wide range of beverages at approachable prices. We can’t wait to serve you!