Renovations under way at Ypsilanti's Red Rock Barbecue as opening moves back to summer
Shawn Cool recently exited his still-to-open barbecue restaurant on Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti and was stopped by a pedestrian.
The man said he'd frequented T.C.’s Speakeasy, which used to be occupy the space, and had read a previous AnnArbor.com article about Red Rock Downtown Barbecue opening. He asked if he could take a look inside.
City of Ypsilanti web site
“He took a look and said ‘Wow! This looks nothing like it used to,’” Cool said.
Major interior renovations are under way at the 207-209 West Michigan Avenue location, and Cool said he doesn’t expect anyone to recognize it as the spot that once housed the old T.C.’s.
When the new restaurant opens, the smell of greasy food and cigarette smoke will be replaced with the smell of new signature dishes: slow-cooked rotisserie chicken, pulled pork and beef brisket, Cool said.
Those three meats will comprise the backbone of the menu from which other plates and sandwiches are built. Although the menu’s details are still being decided, Cool said diners can expect a variety of Southern-style sides. Around a half dozen barbecue sauces will be prepared in-house and set out on the table for diners to choose from.
Red Rock also purchased the former bar's liquor license and will offer full bar service. Cool said patrons can expect live music several nights a week.
The building was purchased out of foreclosure by Cool and his parents, John and Nancy Cool. In November, a 20-month closing process concluded and work has been under way to some degree since.
Cool was first hoping to open on St. Patrick’s Day, but the process has moved slower than he expected. He received his business permit from the city last week, allowing him to move forward with more significant renovations.
Cool said workers pulled up five layers of carpet and flooring in excavating the original hard wood floor, which he will refinish and leave exposed. The drywall also has come down and the brick will stay exposed, and a mason is installing brick archways in several spots throughout the restaurant.
The kitchen is being expanded, a new bathroom is being installed and upgrades are being made to the electrical and plumbing systems, Cool said.
Cool declined to say how much he is investing, but he was helped by a Redevelopment Liquor License approved by the Ypsilanti City Council. The special license is available at less cost than a regular liquor license for those investing at least $75,000 in a city's downtown.
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