Tally-ho, Roger Monk!
Classic roadhouse that it was (the building's history is complicated, but the site has been a restaurant more or less since 1928), the place surprisingly never had a bar designed for people to sit at--just a short functional counter where drinks were made. It also had a lot of dead space around a front foyer, so without sacrificing any seating, Kay was able to create an ample bar, which is now stocked with high-end liquor. (It's especially heavily stocked with New Holland spirits, from the Holland, Michigan, brewery and distillery that's quickly making a name for itself with its "Hatter Royal Hopquila," a tequila-tasting spirit distilled from the operation's own beer.) Most of the carpeting has been replaced by a gleaming cherry floor. Outside, overgrown hedges were jettisoned, making the rooms bright and airy in the daytime. Also gone are the white tablecloths. "People were intimidated," Kay says. "They would leave rather than mess up a table if they just wanted a cocktail."
Roger Monk's is not exactly what you'd call a burger joint, but the menu is long on burgers, and Kay has brought the prices on non-sandwich entrees down to the $12-$18 range. He also hopes the bar and TV suggest that it's okay to hang out and eat (slightly upscale) snacks: instead of chicken wings, he offers "duck drummettes."
Roger Monk's, 5400 Plymouth Rd., 662-1647. Tues.-Fri. 3-10 p.m., Sat. noon-10 p.m., Sun. noon-9 p.m. Closed Mon. rogermonks.com
[Originally published in October, 2010.]