February 13, 2019
Jennifer Timar, Livingston DailyPublished 6:00 a.m. ET Feb. 11, 2019
The oldest commercial building still standing in downtown Fowlerville will get a new life as a bistro, bar, winery, microbrewery and live entertainment venue.
He said the bistro will feature several different spaces, including a main restaurant and wrap-around bar overlooking an open kitchen on the first floor.
“It will feature a faux balcony and look like there is a doctor’s office, tailor’s office, dentist, like the people who would have rented in the building’s upper floor at the time,” Waldenmayer said. “We want to create an atmosphere that is fun and you can also learn about the building’s history.”
The building was formerly the home of the C.D. Hamilton Store, a household, dry goods and clothing store that opened in 1903 and operated until 1969. Ruth’s Resale operated there from 1970 until is closed in 2002.
The first floor of the adjoining building at 108 E. Grand River Ave. was most recently Mr. Druckers General Store, which closed in September.
Portions of walls separating the two buildings will be demolished.
A pub-style area with another bar will be built on the first floor of the former general store.
They are converting part of the basement into a wine cellar and bar with another kitchen in the back.
It will also feature wine-making and brew-brewing areas.
In the spirit of preserving the building’s historical characteristics, Waldenmayer is considering putting bar seating around an old dome-shaped cistern, which once functioned as a water tank.
The second floor above the former general store will be a private events space with a kitchen.
Waldernmayer said chefs will be able to use it for pop-up restaurant events. People will also be able to rent it for private parties and meetings.
Restaurant partner Laura McGaffney founded My Spanish Flan, a Brighton-based dessert catering and online ordering and delivery business, last year, and will operate it out of 1883 Bistro & More.
McGaffney is excited about the bistro’s dual function as an eatery that will also offer educational classes and opportunities for aspiring food industry entrepreneurs to test out concepts in the pop-up kitchen.
“They can make mistakes and learn here before going out into the real world,” McGaffney said.
The bistro will offer classes in cooking, wine making, the process of launching new ventures and other skills.
“Eventually, we’ll have a chameleon food truck that students can use for a day to test out a concept and they aren’t going to go bankrupt,” McGaffney said, adding that the truck will feature changeable electronic signs.
“This will be a place where anyone can come in and be an entrepreneur,” she said.
They also plan to add catering to their list of offerings.
Waldenmayer was a longtime educator who worked as a head chef and culinary arts instructor at Cleary University in Genoa Township before deciding to dedicate all his time to restaurants. He was one of the founders of Cleary’s Pub in Howell, which he is no longer involved with, and has opened several restaurants during his career, including Bistro 127 in South Lyon.
“In the classroom, there is a big gap between what students learn and the real world,” Waldenmayer said. “Here they can get training … and learn from people who have done it.”
The partners hope to open more bistros in the future.
“This is where we’ll prove the concept and hopefully take it to other locations,” McGaffney said.
Fowlerville Village Manager and Clerk Kathryn Arledge said village officials are excited about the bistro and appreciate how it will maintain the village’s historic character.
“In our village of Fowlerville, we don’t have that kind of scene,” Arledge said. “We see (the bistro) bringing people into town and it being a destination.”
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Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at 517-548-7148 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook @Jennifer.Timar99 and Twitter @JenTimar99.