Behind the Scenes with Dave Kwiatkowski

Behind the Scenes with Dave Kwiatkowski

From neighborhood bar to swanky downtown dining, Dave Kwiatkowski’s Detroit Optimist Society represents the best of Detroit and with the acquisition of the Buhl Bar, they’ve added another gem to the collection.

Dave Kwiatkowski follows three rules when it comes to expanding his business empire:

  1. It must be in Detroit.
  2. He won’t do the same thing twice (don’t expect to find a Sugar House in Birmingham or Grand Rapids).
  3. Is the concept new and exciting?

The Buhl Bar has similarities to Sugar House and Bad Luck Bar but its atmosphere is completely its own. When you enter the small bar you are almost surprised you aren’t greeted by Don Draper in the corner, hat on the table and cigar smoke hanging in the air. The quaint space, wood paneling and vintage bar brings a bit of formality to rather casual city.

Dave isn’t changing much at Buhl but he has put together an A-list staff of bartenders: Rick Paulger (Sugar House + Roast), Michael Eisenberg (Roast) and Lucy Carnaghi (owner of Rose’s Fine Food). He’s keeping the former bartender as well and the group will allow the bar to extend its hour.

Also staying is the Savoyard Club. Named for a private club that was located on the top floor of the building, the Buhl club offers members exclusive benefits including mixology classes, premium whiskey tastings and the luxury of keeping privately purchased bottles of whiskey behind the bar. Members will also be allowed to order their drinks with a chip and pay their balance at the end of the month. It’s an old-fashion concept that fits the old-fashion vibes.

SUGAR HOUSE // Sazerac Cocktail, grandfather of the American cocktails. I have all my bartenders make me the drink before I allow them to bartend because it’s a really simple drink but really difficult to get right.
WRIGHT & COMPANY // The sweet and spicy shrimp on the menu is incredible. It’s been there since we opened and I hope it never goes away because it’s delicious.
PETERBORO // Our chef added sesame chicken to the menu a couple months ago and I try to order different things but I just can’t. I order sesame chicken two or three times a week.
HONEST JOHN’S // I get the Hani. It’s like a coney island kind of thing with chicken tenders, lettuce, tomato and mayo with Swiss cheese and rolled in a pita – it’s incredible. My Sunday mornings more often than not look like a Hani John and a Bloody Mary. It’s a good brunch.
BAD LUCK BAR // My favorite drink right now is The Crown. It’s wild turkey, single barrel bourbon whiskey with a mushroom syrup that is amazing. We pair it with a Bon Bon and it’s a great great drink.
BUHL BAR // The Buhl cocktail is rye, amaro  and a little maple syrup. It’s like a Manhattan but it’s to die for.

Buhl Bar
535 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226
Monday – Thursday: 5pm – 10pm
Friday & Saturday: 5pm – 12am
Sunday: closed


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