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 A new fast-casual dining establishment, Detroit Eatz, 32704 Grand River Ave., sits where downtown Farmington’s former Burger King sat for more than 40 years.

A new fast-casual dining establishment, Detroit Eatz, 32704 Grand River Ave., sits where downtown Farmington’s former Burger King sat for more than 40 years.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Former Burger King site reframed as new restaurant

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published December 10, 2019

 Owners Scott and Lisa Bruso own a new restaurant, Detroit Eatz, in downtown Farmington.

Owners Scott and Lisa Bruso own a new restaurant, Detroit Eatz, in downtown Farmington.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Community members packed the seats at Detroit Eatz Nov. 25.

Community members packed the seats at Detroit Eatz Nov. 25.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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FARMINGTON — When downtown’s former Burger King, 32704 Grand River Ave., decided not to renew its lease and to close its doors in 2018, property owner Bill Schonsheck, who has owned the site since 1982, had three options: sell the site to another large corporation, continue to run the site as a Burger King himself, or bring in a new business to fill the space.

Schonsheck chose the third option, starting and building a new fast-casual dining business, Detroit Eatz, with his daughter and son-in-law, Lisa and Scott Bruso, the owners of the business. Detroit Eatz celebrated its grand opening Nov. 25. The fast-casual concept features diner food, including deli items, hamburgers, chicken fingers and fresh-cut fries, according to the restaurant’s website.

Schonsheck said the demographics of Farmington are “very favorable to start a new concept.”

Though if people who drive past the new Detroit Eatz don’t initially notice a huge difference from its former counterpart, Scott Bruso said that was done intentionally.

“Knowing this has been a restaurant the whole time, they know where they can go to get food. They know they can count on us being here,” Bruso said.

He said he and his wife wanted to bring something fresh to the city of Farmington without making too many changes to the site’s appearance.

“We wanted to kind of maintain the image that has been done (here) and not throw a big shock to the community with something like that,” he said. “We were talking about doing some things to the outside, but we intentionally kept some of the look to maintain that comfort level.”

Aesthetic changes to the site, however, were made to the interior and the drive-thru menu. Bruso said the restaurant’s entire inside was gutted and give a modern outfit, with new tiles, upgraded booths and digitized menu technology.

Keeping the drive-thru intact was another reason Schonscheck decided to reinvest and repurpose the building. Drive-thrus are not allowed by city ordinance in the downtown corridor anymore, explained Farmington’s Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christianson, but because the drive-thru was developed before the ordinance passed, it’s grandfathered in.

“Those elements of the site can continue as long as there is a change of use to a conforming use without any expansion of those facilities,” Christianson said. “So the drive-thru can continue to be used as it has in the past.”

Christianson said the adaptive reuse of the building benefits residents by providing them a new spot in town to dine, and it breathes new vitality into the community and its surrounding businesses.

“The opportunity to reuse existing properties and existing buildings and facilities is part of the opportunity to bring forward successful redevelopment and continue the economic vitality of businesses and properties within the community,” he said, adding that the city’s long-range plans seek out those types of opportunities. “The city’s continuing focus on these elements of preservation, enhancements, transformation and redevelopment will only continue to add to the city’s quality of life.”

Scott Bruso said he’s hoping to get involved in as many community events as they’re invited to. He wishes his family and the company could have begun their involvement earlier during the development process, though he admits things were too hectic at the time. They were a sponsor of the Holly Days celebration Dec. 7.

While Detroit Eatz may have just opened a few weeks ago, Schonsheck said he’s already thinking about restaurant Nos. 2, 3, and 4.

To learn more about Detroit Eatz, visit detroiteatz.com or visit them on Facebook.

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