The team behind ABC Tavern and XYZ Tavern is expanding once again. This Friday, Linda Syrek, Randy Kelly and Alan Glazen take possession of Ponte Vecchio, the seven-year-old Italian restaurant with million-dollar views. The restaurant is located on the Superior Viaduct, around the corner from the Detroit-Superior Bridge.
"The building owners came to us to see if we were interested in taking it over," explains Kelly. "It's a great opportunity. It's a beautiful restaurant so we don't have to lay out a lot of money. It's diamond in the rough, no different from the Parkview, ABC… There was nothing wrong with these places — except they didn't have us."
Kelly blames Ponte Vecchio's ills on a rough start and a rocky reputation.
"It's been a dog from Day One," he says. "They tried to come off as ultra-fine Italian — and it wasn't ever very good. They stuck to the Italian theme, which was just beating a dead horse."
Heading up the kitchens will be Nate Williams, who for years worked with Karen Small at Flying Fig.
"Nate's been holding down the Fig for years," adds Kelly. "We're giving him the chance to shine, which he deserves."
When the restaurant — likely to be called Viaduct Lounge — opens in September, diners can expect an eatery with a much more laid-back vibe. The sunken portion of the dining room will be transformed into a lounge. While the menu is far from established, Kelly says affordable champagne and a raw bar will be part of the action.
"We're not fine dining," he says. "We're fun dining."