Encore Catering in negotiations with city to operate Blossom Heath Inn

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 14, 2021

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Stating that his goal is to bring Blossom Heath Inn “back to its original opulence,” Encore Catering and Banquet Center’s Robert Anthony Nahra, known as “Chef Bobby,” was chosen to be the new operator of the historic banquet facility at 24800 Jefferson Ave.

Mayor Kip Walby formed a committee of city council members John Caron and Dave Rubello, along with incoming Community Services Director Denise Pike, to solicit bids for a new contractor to operate the historic facility after Kosch Catering, which took over management of Blossom Heath Inn in 2015, notified the city that it wanted to end its 10-year contract with the city early, at the end of 2021.

The city received bids from Cass Catering, Crank’s Services and Encore Catering. The committee recommended, and City Council voted unanimously in favor of, choosing Encore Catering as the lessee of the facility.

“All three companies that applied are very capable, qualified caterers,” Caron said at the Oct. 4 meeting of City Council. “For me ... it really did come down to local roots, local interests. There are a lot of synergies that can be had by having Encore Catering take over.”

Encore Catering and Banquet Center is located at 21801 E. Nine Mile Road in St. Clair Shores, and Chef Bobby already partners with the Parks and Recreation Department to provide cooking demonstrations during the St. Clair Shores Farmers Markets.

“I’m so glad that Encore put their name in,” Rubello said. “He grew up right here on Harper. You took the old hall on Nine Mile Road, Alcamo’s, and turned it into a palace.”

In Encore’s proposal to the city, it stated that Encore would like to hold quarterly pasta dinners to bring residents in to enjoy the historical landmark of Blossom Heath Inn, offer holiday brunches, hold pancake breakfasts to support local nonprofit fundraisers and have an open house to get those interested in renting the hall in the door.

Councilman Chris Vitale said he liked all of Encore’s ideas.

“There hasn’t been a lot of opportunity to get the community into that building,” Vitale said. “That’s how you drum up business. You’ve got the right idea there.”

City Council unanimously approved a motion Oct. 4 to allow City Manager Matthew Coppler to begin negotiations on a multi-year contract with Encore Catering. Once drafted, the contract will return to City Council for its approval.

“I’m really excited for this. I think you have that connection in the community already,” said Councilwoman Candice Rusie. “Having a fresh start at Blossom Heath Inn is going to be fantastic.”

Nahra said he’s excited for the opportunity to work more with the city.

“My team, I’ve invested in human capital to take this opportunity and run with it. I want to invest some time in the brand,” he said. “It’s an honor to be in the city.

“I will continue to be a good person in this community, do a great job and represent my hometown, St. Clair Shores, where we make a living and like to create great food and memorable moments.”