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Dan's Expands Again

And more Saline marketplace changes

by Billie Ochberg

From the December, 2017 issue

The last couple of times owner Dan Kolander made changes to Dan's Downtown Tavern, there was a lot of construction dust. Back in 2011, he knocked down walls and expanded into the former cycle shop next door. He did the same thing in 2015 when another adjoining business vacated. But this year, Dan chose a cleaner, quieter route to expanding his business.

"We've added a weekend brunch," says Kolander, taking a break on a busy fall weekday. Nearby, four city firemen are finishing up a quick lunch; three moms and their toddlers gather at another table laughing about kids and ketchup; and the rest of the tables host an array of diners, many on a first-name basis with servers. It's like the Cheers of Saline.

"Business has been steady, plus I've got a great new chef, Miguel Aguilar," Kolander says. "Brunch is something I've wanted to do for a long time."

"Everyone loves it," says server Becky Khalil, sharing the highlights while on a five-minute break. "One of last weekend's specials was the salmon Wellington"--a puff pastry baked and filled with salmon, rice, spinach, and Colby Jack cheese for $12. "A lot of people ordered the eggs benedict, the huevos rancheros, and the bacon and cheese frittata," she says. There's also a breakfast burrito--loaded with three eggs, chorizo, sweet peppers, sweet onions, potatoes, Colby Jack, and salsa--as well as light options like fruit and yogurt. The breakfast potatoes are hand cut.

"The waffles are really good, especially the ones with Nutella and strawberries. You can get eggs to order, omelettes, and all kinds of pancakes that kids love," says Khalil. A peek at the previous week's pancake offerings included plain, peach, tropical fruit, M&M, chocolate, blueberry, Nutella, banana, and vanilla ice cream.

"There aren't a lot of places to get brunch downtown, so this made sense," says Kolander. "We served 148 people the first weekend. We even started running out of stuff," he says with a smile.


...continued below...

its popularity has something to do with the Bloody Mary bar. Diners choose their preferred vodka and doctor it up for just $8. "We got an early-serve license," says Kolander. "So, yes, there's the Bloody Mary bar, plus we've got sixty-four beers on draft" as well as a champagne mimosa for $8. If you're the designated driver, there's plenty of coffee.

"We're still tweaking things," says Kolander. "So far, we're getting a lot of the football crowd on the weekends. Maybe it's pre-tailgating, but whatever it is we're pretty happy with the way it's going."

Dan's Downtown Tavern, 103 E. Michigan Ave. 429-3159. Weekend brunch Sat. 10 a.m.-noon, Sun. 10 a.m.-1 p.m.


Benito's Pizza in downtown Saline has quietly changed hands.

"We're part of the regional corporate chain now," explains manager Robert Burgett by phone in October. Previous franchise owners Nick and Amy Wallen could not be reached for comment.

"Nick Wallen hasn't owned it for about a year," confirms Burgett. The restaurant closed in October 2016 and reopened under the company's ownership in March.

"Apart from a fresh coat of paint and new flyers, though, not much has changed. We have a few new pizza deals," says Burgett."Our most popular order is probably the large pizza with one topping and Benito bread for $10.99."

The hours changed only slightly (see below).

Burgett directed all other questions to Benito's Livonia headquarters. Operations manager Ron Morelli explains that "when the Wallens no longer wanted to own their franchise, we didn't want to lose our presence in Saline. It's a great city, and we like the downtown location. We were happy that the landlord let us stay."

Benito's Pizza, 100 S. Ann Arbor St. 429-2555. Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun. noon-10 p.m.    (end of article)

[Originally published in December, 2017.]


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