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Royal Oak

Oxford Inn to become Bobby’s Nashville Bar and Grill

Quarter century of stability cues time for a change

February 13, 2013

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The Oxford Inn in Royal Oak has had a similar look for the past 25 years. In the next several weeks, owner Bob Higgins plans to transform the venue into Bobby’s Nashville Bar and Grill, changing 60-70 percent of the menu to feature “gourmet country” food.

ROYAL OAK — After 25 years, Oxford Inn is changing its theme.

One of the longest standing venues in the city, 1214 S. Main will soon be known as Bobby’s Nashville Bar and Grill.

“My family’s from Tennessee and I kind of wanted to get back to my roots,” owner Bob Higgins said. “I’m teamed up with 99.5 (WYCD) and they’re going to be live every other week from 7-10 p.m.”

Although the name is changing, the remodeling is only expected to take three weeks and include mainly the flooring and a paint job, Higgins said of the 5,000-square-foot restaurant.

“I’ve been here 25 years. You don’t want to get stale,” Higgins said. “I’m not going to be one of those huge country dance clubs.”

Higgins said the newly themed restaurant would have a small dance floor, but the music and menu would experience the most changes. The music will be country and the menu will follow suit, in large part. After all, the new motto will be, “A taste of southern hospitality.”

Of the 50 items on the menu, 60-70 percent will be new, Higgins said. The well-known oysters Rockefeller and award-winning ribs dishes will remain, but new items, such as beef briskets, pork tenderloin, country fried steak, and shrimp and grits will all be new.

“It’s more a difference in a theme,” City Manager Don Johnson said. “I don’t think we have anything like that in Royal Oak. It looks like he’s picking the theme that’ll make him unique. Bob’s a good operator, so I hope it works out for him.”

Higgins said he planned to approach the City Commission this month to formally request the name change and that he would expect all the renovations to be completed in March. He said, since the venue is already sectioned off into three rooms with two bars, it would stay open during renovations, which will occur room by room.

“I get a lot of mixed reviews,” Higgins said. “A lot of my senior clientele are not really happy.”

He said he made the decision to change Oxford Inn’s format after attending a country concert on Aug. 18, 2012, and seeing the type of crowd it brought out. He said he’s also gotten a glimpse of country fans at the Downtown Hoedown in Detroit.

“I’ve been listening to country for a while,” Higgins said. “I took my daughters down to Ford Field to Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney.”

In addition to a desire to both do business beyond 8 p.m. most nights and fill a niche market in a bar-heavy city, Higgins also sees county music as a continually growing genre of fans. He said the most recent winners from each “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “The X Factor” were all country musicians.

“Because I’m a music nut, I watch all the music reality shows,” Higgins said.

Getting the country theme going early, Oxford Inn was scheduled to host Allen Park natives Annabelle Road Feb. 12. The country band has found increasing success in the past few years, but still finds time to play at local bars, so Higgins expected a packed house for the fairly intimate show.

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