The soon-to-open Marais is transforming a corner in Grosse Pointe's Village business district into a little slice of France.
The restaurant is in the final prep stage before opening day, including painting, decorating and awaiting a health department inspection. Last week walls blocking the renovation work were taken down, revealing intricate woodwork painted in a chocolate brown, ornate copper lanterns and plenty of windows looking out on a dining room with rich dark woods and a neighboring bar with banquettes, tables and bar stools. The feel is French and the food will be influenced by the land of fine wine and cheese.
What's making Marais the next "it" restaurant is not necessarily the decor but the husband-wife team behind it: David and Monica Gilbert. He is the former chef at award-wining Forest Grill and she was the accomplished general manager of that Birmingham establishment.
The couple live in Grosse Pointe and are part of a restaurant renaissance for locals who have long bemoaned the limited options for a meal out.
City inspections on Marais are done, and once a health department inspection is complete Marais should open next week, Grosse Pointe City Manager Peter Dame says.
The opening is coupled with a new gated parking lot that has room for more cars and does away with meters. It opened this week.
Dame says the the credit or cash parking system will allow "visitors to the Village and to the new restaurant to stay as long as they like without any need to run out and add money to the meters or risk getting a ticket," Dame says.
The city has also made improvements to the district, which is weathering the closures of some of its largest storefronts, including Border's, Ace Hardware and the Gap.
The changes, decorative lighting, landscaping in alleys, brick-columned fencing and a brick trash enclosure to hide trash bins, are meant to make downtown attractive not only to customers but potential businesses.
Source: Peter Dame, Grosse Pointe City Manager
Writer: Kim North Shine