New Eateries Pop Up on Woodward, Including One With Food Truck Theme
Downtown Royal Oak, for the most part, looks very much like a food court these days, with restaurant after restaurant, coffee shop after coffee shop. And oh yes, a few bakeries.
All that's missing is someone handing out samples of Chinese chicken and Cinnabons on toothpicks.
In the past few weeks, there's been a new addition: Hamlin Corner, a restaurant-sports bar just north of the Main Art Theater.
But as of late, the real restaurant expansion seems to be spilling over onto nearby Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak and Berkley.
Cruise down Woodward, between 11 and 14 Mile roads, and you'll notice three new entries into the market. Two will open this summer. The most distinctive is, the Food Truck Cafe, which opened Monday on Woodward near 11 1/2 Mile Road in Berkley.
The inside of the restaurant, which is the brainchild of Kerry Johnson, has facades that look like the front of food trucks: One for Mexican food, another for sandwiches and a third for coffee. There are picnic tables inside and painted sewer covers on the floor to give it a roadside feel. Johnson is the former owner of the Cupcake Station, a chain of cupcake joints.
Jon Glab, co-owner, says Johnson came up with the concept about a year ago.
So far, on the second day, Glab says the customers are excited.
When they come through the door, he says "they get a giant smile on their face."
Up the road, south of 14 Mile Road, on the east side of Woodward in Royal Oak, Tom Chinonis is about to open Kalamata Greek Grill, which boasts of "Fresh Greek Fast."
Chinonis says the specialty will be "the world's greatest gyros. That's our thing." There will also be other Greek fare.
People will pay at the register, then walk to the end of the counter where they'll pick up the food. It has the similar look of Chipotle.
Chinonis says he opened his first Kalamata Greek Grill in Troy in 2008. The second one on Woodward will open the doors sometime this summer.
"We're super pumped," he said. "We wanted to be in Royal Oak since we opened in Troy."
Another new entry on the block is a Thai food carryout joint, Bangkok Cuisine, south of 14 Mile on the same side of the street as Kalamata.
Owner Somnuk Arpachinda says this outlet in Royal Oak will be her 11th restaurant, including one in Detroit. Some of the outlets are sit-down eateries.
She said she hopes to open in about three weeks.
Last year, Vinsetta Garage opened on Woodward Avenue, just south of Catalpa, adding some zip to the street. It became an instant success.
Back in the day, some of the legendary Woodward Avenue restaurants on that stretch of Woodward included Totem Pole Restaurant, Susie-Q and the Egg and I. All have since vanished, perhaps to culinary heaven.
Thai restaurant owner Somnuk Arpachinda.