Red Rock Downtown Barbecue coming to Ypsilanti

Pulled pork, beef brisket, and other items of meaty barbecue deliciousness will be on the menu in downtown Ypsilanti, hopefully by the first part of next year.

The goal is to have Red Rock Downtown Barbecue open by spring, ideally St. Patrick's Day, says co-owner Shawn Cool. The building is the former T.C. Speakeasy's, at 207 W. Michigan Ave. The restaurant will serve local and Michigan-made products as well as quality food.

Next up is getting the building ready for demolition and heating, electric, plumbing, and other technical aspects. "Everything's been good so far," Cool says. "We've uncovered a lot of walls and the ceiling, and everything looks like it's in decent shape."

Cool and his father and business co-owner, John, have worked on this project for the last 20 months; the property's foreclosure status made it a bit more challenging. They were able to close with the bank early last month, but slowing down the process, for good reason, was Shawn Cool's wedding a few weeks ago. However, "We're finally in here and ready to go," he says.

Red Rock Downtown Barbecue will take shape in a 150-year-old historic building that has seen several additions over the years. The Cools hope to strip it down to its bare bones and build to make it better suited for a barbecue restaurant. Cool would like to keep a live music aspect to the venue.

The building formerly housed a bar, a shoe store, and perhaps even a funeral home.

The Cools believe barbecue is the right food genre to bring to downtown Ypsilanti. John Cool is retired from the meat industry
and will bring that expertise to the business. "We're doing it together," Shawn Cool says. "From here on out, I'll be out here every day until I get things going."

Source: Shawn Cool, co-owner of the Red Rock Downtown Barbecue
Writer: Kristin Lukowski