The restaurant that invented the Bullshot and gave Barbra Streisand her start as a lounge singer reopens on Friday, May 12.
The Caucus Club has been remodeled and revitalized under the direction of proprietor George Sboukis, 46, a second-generation restauranteur. He inherited his passion for the food business from his Greek immigrant parents, who opened the Riviera Coffee House near Olympia Arena in the 1950s and went on to own Louis’ Chop House in Chesterfield where, until recently, Sboukis was a partner.
The 6,000-square-foot restaurant at 150 W. Congress St. is in the Penobscot Building.
As one of its 155 diners, you’ll enjoy the Art Deco style and you can order the New Bullshot, created by Bar Manager Mike Kreger. While the original cocktail was essentially a Bloody Mary with beef broth instead of tomato juice and vodka, the New Bullshot has homemade beef stock and a special Italian gin.
You’ll be able to choose a booth or a table as well as high and low seating and seating at the bar. There’s also a new private dining space for 25 people where the old kitchen used to be.
The new Caucus Club menu will remind you of New York steakhouse with an international flair. You can sink your teeth into dry-aged steaks, including the rarely seen tomahawk (rib eye with long bone), as well as mint pesto lamb chops, prime rib and sea food such as scallops, pan-seared halibut and lake perch. There will also be daily specials.
Going there for lunch? Try the cheese-stuffed burger. It’s reminiscent of a dish served at the original Caucus Club. Bread is baked freshly daily and desserts include seasonal panna cotta, homemade cheesecakes, tiramisu, and crème brulee.
“With the reopening of Caucus Club, I’m proud to provide the city with a first-class restaurant destination that has its roots in history but which is a celebration of what Detroit is today,” says Sboukis, a resident of Washington Township. “The hospitality part of the business is very important to me, as it was to my parents. I love greeting diners and getting to know them. My father’s mother died when he was 12 so he had a hard start, but felt Detroit gave him a wonderful opportunity. Now I can continue my father’s legacy amidst the resurgence of the city, remaining grateful to my mother and brothers who have carried on the family restaurant while I pursue my dream.”
Sboukis worked with Wendy Silverman, a designer from Scott Shuptrine Interiors, and architect Richard Burmann to renovate the restaurant.
If you previously dined at the Caucus Club, which was open from 1952-2012, you’ll be glad to see some of the original features remain. If you’re new to the place be sure and check out the bar, which has been restored using marble from other parts of the building, the famous phone booth and a glass display case where the restaurant’s original owner, Les Gruber, showcased Caucus Club memorabilia, which will hold both old and new mementoes.
Sboukis, a jazz aficionado, also has built a new stage to showcase local pianists and singers. A Baldwin grand piano, built in 1952, was tracked down and is featured on that stage to compliment the vintage feel.
There has been one big change. The shuttered windows are gone. “I wanted energy and light coming in from Congress and expect that people outside will peak in to see the beautiful space and our talented performers,” says Sboukis.
A team of 34 staff are expected to be in place when the restaurant opens, headed by Executive Chef Hussey, formerly of Filippa’s Wine Barrel in Shelby Township.
The new kitchen will provide an exciting wide screen view to passers-by in the hallway of the Penobscot Building. In addition, the kitchen has a dry-aging room complete with a Himalayan salt wall.
Here’s a quick history of The Caucus Club.
When it opened in 1952 it was an overflow restaurant for the London Chop House across the street. Barbra Streisand started singing at the restaurant in 1961. Caucus Club’s owner, at that time, Les Gruber, reportedly got a call from an agent in New York who said he had heard Streisand sing and thought she would be a good fit for the restaurant. Streisand sang during March, part of April and between July and August of that year.
It seems the final words to one of her theme songs, Evergreen, fit the reopening of this iconic restaurant perfectly … ageless and ever, evergreen
For more information, visit www.caucusclubdetroit.com or call 313-965-4970.