Leopold Bros., Rush Street sites due for makeovers
Two high profile Main Street restaurants are getting new looks -- the former Leopold Brothers space and the Rush Street martini bar.
AndrusÂ McDonald,Â a University of Michigan graduate and former owner of bars in Detroit, is part of ownership groups involved in both spots. He said he's focusing his efforts on Ann Arbor because of the unique clientele the university brings.
"It's highly educated and more worldly, and there's a natural revolving base of people," he said. "You have the opportunity to build something that can be around for 30 years."
The 10,400-square-foot former Leopold Brothers space a few blocks south of downtown will become the Vintage banquet and event facility.Â McDonalÂ said he expects a liquor license to be approved by the state within weeks, after which point he'll start marketing.
He said the ability to convert the bare brick walls and concrete floors into any type of decor will be a selling point for people looking to escape the standard hotel environment for their events.
"We can build you anything you want there. That's sort of a niche," he said. "There's a dearth of places to have large party downtown."
McDonaldÂ said Vintage may also be used as a concert venue, and that the costs to rent the space would depend on the event, with the minimum being a few hundred dollars.
He said an LLC involving himself and building owner Jerry Spears is on the verge of closing a purchase of the building. According to state records, real estate investor Jeff Starman of Arch Realty is also a member of Vintage Club LLC.
"We don't have any development plans for that site right now," he said.
Spears also owns the building that houses Rush Street.
McDonald,Â who purchased the restaurant as part of a group in August, said he's planning a complete makeover of the space sometime next year. But first he's developing a new menu that will be ready by the end of this year.
He said he has "no idea" how the nightspot will look after renovations in the summer or what the new menu will contain.
"Whatever we do in the winter semester well may be a teaser,"Â McDonaldÂ said.
McDonaldÂ has owned bars in Detroit, including Envy, but sold his stakes in them a few years ago. He's also involved with a new club in Detroit called Honey, but is focusing his day-to-day efforts in Ann Arbor, he said.
Spears said he's confident about the long term prospects of the restaurant and the banquet facility.
"I believe both spaces will do just fine," he said.
Leopold Brothers, a brewery that grew many of its ingredients in the same Main Street building, closed in May 2008. The building has been empty since.
Freelance reporter Dan Meisler can be reached at email@example.com.