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Posted on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Ypsilanti's Red Rock Barbecue to have grand opening Friday

By Danny Shaw


The interior of Red Rock Downtown Barbecue in downtown Ypsilanti.

Chris Asadian |

After a year and a half of planning and renovations, Ypsilanti’s Red Rock Downtown Barbecue will have its grand opening April 27.

“This has been an idea for five years now, so it’s great to be at this point,” co-owner Shawn Cool said. “We worked literally for a year and a half straight, every day. It’s a relief.”

The new restaurant is located at 207-209 W. Michigan Ave., in the former T.C.’s Speakeasy space. Red Rock has hosted several preview weekends at which customers could check out the food and drink menus.

Cool said the business had a soft open on April 20, and the restaurant is operating on its permanent business hours, of 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., but will have a limited menu until the grand opening on April 27.

Cool is opening Red Rock with his parents, John and Nancy, and said he couldn't be more excited to see the family’s hard work pay off. Cool said the restaurant wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration.

“My parents moved out-of-state 10 years ago and have been staying here for the last year and a half to help,” he said. “My wife and my brother have been helping non-stop, too. It’s really been a family project.”

Cool even put his personal life on hold for the family-driven endeavor.

“I got married the week we signed for the space,” Cool said. “We haven’t even had our honeymoon yet. So once everything settles a bit, I’m really looking forward to that.”

The restaurant hopes to appeal to a wide range of clientele, including business people, students and Eastern Michigan University faculty members.

Cool said the house specialty is a no-brainer: the barbecued pork.

“We’ve really spent a lot of time perfecting our pork,” he said. “It’s all great, but the pulled pork and ribs really have been on-point.”

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Wed, Apr 25, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Well, had lunch at Red Rock yesterday and it was really great! And what an amazing job they have done on the renovation of Ty Cool's old place! It is gorgeous!! The food was excellent. The service was super !! I enjoyed our waiter and enjoyed the obvious desire to make us comfortable and make sure we enjoyed our experience. Good food, good atmosphere, good service = winning!


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 10:16 p.m.

Looking forward to having dinner and a beer. Good luck with your new venture.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Great food, good beer, and great renovation. Definitely worth crossing 23 to try.

Steven Jaye

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 2:48 a.m.

I use to go to Slows in Detroit but not anymore this place blows it out of the water. This place knows BBQ and has great beer.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:57 p.m.

Congratulations to these local business owners! I look forward to trying your new place out!

free form

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:19 p.m.

I've been to Red Rock once a week since it's St. Patrick's day preview. I've seen the progress that has taken place at RR and I'm super impressed. The menu keeps growing with more interesting and delicious choices and the service keeps getting better and better. There have been a few issues here and there but I think it's to be expected with any new business as they try new things and figure out what works and what doesn't. The prices are definitely reasonable and the portions are generous! My personal plea is to bring back the Zombie Killer mead or start a small wine list. I love Riesling. Just sayin'

Benjamin Cool

Mon, Apr 30, 2012 : 4:40 a.m.

They now have Zombie Killer in a bottle. I hear they are trying to get it on tap again soon.

Trent Boston

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

I attended a soft opening on St. Patty's Day and was there this past Friday with a group of friends and was really impressed with several things. 1) Great atmosphere. The brick interior, lighting and wrap around bar makes for a real comfortable experience. Great place to watch a game or just hang out. 2) One of the best craft beer selections you'll find in the area. Good variety from IPA's, Stouts and Lagers. Its refreshing to hit up a bar that has Michigan beers at a reasonable price. 3) The food I sampled was really top notch. These guys know what they are doing. The dry rubbed ribs are succulent and mac and cheese is a fantastic. I have also heard great reviews about the pulled pork and beef brisket sliders. Many items are very affordable and there is a good variety of stuff to choose from. Lastly, I was impressed with the service. You can tell when restaurant workers really care about your experience. These guys are so friendly and helpful that you can't help but hope for their business to become a success. I wish them all the luck as I plan on spending many night there.

Alan Black

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

Why was my comment voted down?

Alan Black

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

I was really just curious. I don't see the "Vote Up/Vote Down" feature discussed in the guidelines, so I wasn't aware how they are used. Other sites used a feature like that for self moderation, to get rid of posts that go against the sites posting guidelines, not for if you disagree with an opinion.

free form

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

Oh Alan, this will probably be deleted too but I'll give it a shot... Yes, your post was just your opinion but I did not agree with it. Instead of going line by line to refute and trivialize your complaints, I thought it was much faster to just give you a thumbs down. Apparently, I was not alone. Don't be so sensitive. It's just the internet.

Alan Black

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:08 p.m.

It was my opinion, I have no reason to bad mouth these guys other than my experience.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:58 p.m.

Just serve me a plate of good BBQ and some good beer and I'll be a regular customer for life.

Alan Black

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

I went to Red Rock on St. Patrick's Day as well as yesterday (4-22). My first trip was not good. The ribs were black with a chalky coating that was not appetizing. The Mac n' Cheese was nothing special and very boring once you got past the bread crumb crust on top. The second trip I went with a couple of friends. I had the Brsket sandwich. On the menu they gave you an option of a few different breads that it could come with. When I ordered it I wasn't given any of these options and it ended up coming on just a plain looking bun. The brisket itself didn't have any flavor, and tasted like it was boiled rather than smoked. To save this I used the sauces that were provided. There were three different sauces; Smokey, Sweet and Hot, and a Vinegar based sauce. The "Smokey" and "Sweet and Hot" tasted identical. The Vinegar based sauce, despite having an orange tint to it, tasted just like vinegar. The waffle fries were good, if not a little over salted, but not bad at all. The coleslaw was tasty with the apple and dried cherries they put in it. My friend's pulled pork came cold, the excuse for this was that the back door of the kitchen was open. You can get much better food in Ypsilanti for less money. I really wanted to like this place.

Alan Black

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:06 p.m.

Ben, the cold food was remedied, like I said, there was an odd excuse givenf or it. I'm sorry I didn't mention that another plate of food was brought out. When you're at a restaraunt hoping to enjoy a meal you don't always want to gripe about everything going on to the staff. I wasn't looking to get a free meal out of it. I also don't see a problem with stating it in a public forum. Most of it was just my opinion anyhow.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

Can't wait to check it out.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

Anyone know if they will be doing catering in the future?


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

Anything vegetarian on the menu?

free form

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

"but I took a look at the menu and realized that there is nothing vegetarian --not enough appetizers either" As stated in the article, this menu isn't even the full selection the restaurant will have once the "grand opening" occurs. Even with the current limited menu you are still wrong. The Mac 'n' Chesse is the vegetarian entree and there are other vegetarian side items and salads. Did you even look at the menu? I'd also point out that this is a BBQ joint. How much veggie BBQ do you expect? As for pricing, I think you are WAY off there as well. As far as the entrees go I think everything is a great deal. I get a half chicken and two HEAPING sides for $12. There is another BBQ place on Washtenaw that serves smaller portions and lower quality for near the same price. Yes, this is downtown Ypsi where I have been waiting a year and a half for a decent place to eat dinner. Red Rock is my wish come true!

Deborah Wiloch-Bargardi

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

My husband and I went there on Saturday night and to be honest--although the interior and the new look was beautiful--I loved sitting at the bar and watching the Tiger Game--but I took a look at the menu and realized that there is nothing vegetarian --not enough appetizers either. If I am going to be honest--I think the beer/food prices were too high. This is Ypsilanti--not Ann Arbor. It's a bummer because I thought this might be our new hang out!


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

They have macaroni and cheese, which I've heard is really good. Also, why did someone downvote you for this?


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

Stopped by on St. Patrick's day with my wife and infant son (nothing wrong with taking a baby to a bar on St. Patty's, right?!?!). Great owners, great environment, and great food. Go Ypsi!


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

I've been waiting for this place to open and look forward to trying it out. i'll wait a bit though and let them get the hiccups out of their system. Any one know if they have BBQ chicken nachos? Smokehouse used to serve those and they were pretty tasty. Oh, "and if you meet somebody who don't like soul food they still got a soul......."


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

Really looking forward to checking this place out.. couldn't be more pleased to potentially have business coming to Ypsilanti. Good Luck to all involved!

Christine Moellering

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

We've been there once and I can't wait to go back. The food was great, the people were even better. LOVE it!!


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

Also, Shawn Cool? What a great name.

Benjamin Cool

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

It should be noted that Shawn Cool and I are not related to Neil Ty Cool (owner of TC's Speakeasy from the 70s through the late 90s)


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Figures you would say that Joe. Get it Joe Cool, lol?


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

Ty Cool used to own T.C's Speakeasy, hence the name.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

This place is amazing! My wife and I went there a week ago for her birthday. The interior is beautiful and the food is absolutely delicious and reasonably priced (we got half a rack of ribs, a pulled pork slider, a beef brisket slider, two cornbread muffins, a plate of waffle fries and a pint of beer for $23). We sat at the front window, watching Michigan Ave. while we ate. We had a very pleasant time. We can't afford eat out regularly, but we will make an effort to come here as often as we can. I'm so pleased to see businesses with such a commitment to quality opening up in downtown.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

I'm so hopeful. Was very disappointed in the changes at Smokehouse....just my opinion. So I am looking forward to some good BBQ. And I was heartbroken over the loss of Pub13 and the Mongolian Grille downtown. Looking for some great luck for a downtown Ypsi eatery! It's a tough battle.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

No need to be hopeful - the place rocks!


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

I also agree about the changed Smokehouse. The place has an identity crisis inside and the food was not all that good. Granted, we went there on opening night. I might go back sometime in the summer to see if things have changed.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

I agree with the disappointment in Smokehouse was a weekly stop for us, now we havent been there in months. :/


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

Mongolian was pricey at best. So it did not meet our budget. Otherwise, love a good Mongolian any day of the week. Hope this is successful.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

This is cool.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:49 a.m.

They've done an amazing job renovating the space and exposing the brick. And the pulled pork was sweet and tender, as if it had just come from the beast.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

As long as it isn't smoked MOOSE, eh! LOL

Mary Bilyeu

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:25 a.m.

This will be wonderful ... :)


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

My husband and I went to the soft opening on the 20th and really enjoyed everything we had! Come check it out! It's great to have a great new option for barbecue close by. Cant' wait until we can try their dessert when the full menu arrives.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:19 a.m.

Here's hoping the Cool family's considerable efforts and investment find success and perhaps spark more life into downtown Ypsi's continuing transformation.