After two years away, Browndog Barlor officially reopens in downtown Farmington

What’s happening: Browndog Barlor & Restaurant has officially reopened its doors in downtown Farmington. The restaurant, bar, and ice cream parlor first closed in the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic and, despite repeated attempts to reopen in the time since then, staffing shortages essentially kept the downtown business shuttered for two years. Browndog returns with an updated food menu, an expanded line of their boozy milkshakes, and newly-commissioned art on the walls. Their signature handmade ice cream is back, too.

How they did it: Co-owner Paul Gabriel credits their ability to adapt quickly and pivot with keeping Browndog in business throughout the pandemic. The initial COVID-19 wave forced Browndog to scale back, shuttering its Farmington location while focusing on their store in downtown Northville. The company was able to quickly overhaul its website to allow for online orders. Their wholesale business — with somewhere around 80 to 90 accounts, he says — has grown during this time. Farmington’s Downtown Development Authority even leased the dormant storefront as a small business incubator for several months.

But it was their receiving a grant from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund that Gabriel ultimately credits with enabling Browndog to commit to reopening in downtown Farmington.

“That single-handedly allowed us to reopen,” he says. “We burned through our reserves over those two years and it just wouldn’t have worked otherwise.”

Scaling back, scaling up: Now that Browndog has regrouped and reopened in downtown Farmington, the company looks to continue growing its wholesale business and even expand their brick-and-mortar footprint. A planned Browndog Barlor in Lansing is expected to open this fall.

Farmington focus: For all their growth, Gabriel says that getting their Farmington location situated is their biggest priority right now. The storefront has received a bit of a facelift, including updates to their signage, kitchen, dining area, and more. Menu changes at the Northville location have arrived in Farmington, like the popular Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich. And downtown Farmington’s social district The Syndicate, which opened while Browndog was shuttered, offers the business new opportunity for their more adult-friendly menu items, like their boozy milkshakes.

“We’re very excited to be back — it was not fun to make that decision to close in the first place. Farmington was our first full-scale restaurant, so it was not a happy decision to close,” says Gabriel. “We’re very happy to reopen and hit the ground running.”

Browndog Barlor & Restaurant is located at 33314 in downtown Farmington.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.