There’s something so magical about walking through the doors of your favorite restaurant. After so many months of pandemic shutdowns and restrictions, it’s beyond enchanting now. To be seated by a host, to order something you would never dare make at home, and to sip the sharp chill of a cocktail while the hum of conversation fills the space around you has come to mean so much more after this past year.
The Siren Hotel and its amenities are definitely a grand contributor to Detroit’s downtown magic. Karl’s striking, time-traveling interior, the Siren Cafe’s delicious brews, and Candy Bar’s luxe, all-things-pink ambiance give nothing but mystical whimsy in terms of hospitality.
As Candy Bar begins accepting more guests and Karl’s reopens to the public, both Chef Kate Williams, owner and chef of Karl’s, and Ryan Villareal, Food and Beverage Director at the Siren Hotel talk about a restaurant’s environment, its inspirations, and of course, their favorite dish on the menu.
HOW DOES KARL’S UTILIZE LOCAL PRODUCE AND GOODS?
Chef Williams: “We use as many local products as possible! We purchase a lot of goods from Cherry Capital Foods, based out of Traverse City. They source from farms and makers around the state. We also love our Detroit Farmers and Suppliers- Food Field, Marrow Detroit, Brother Nature, and, of course, Guernsey Dairy, my very first job, supplies us with heavy cream, sour cream, ice cream, and all other dairy products!”
HOW HAS MANAGEMENT/STAFF RELATIONS CHANGED DURING THE PANDEMIC?
Villareal: “Management/Staff relations have only strengthened throughout this pandemic. Our teams have pulled together in a positive way to combat the struggles that the pandemic brought, to learn from this unprecedented time, and to band together as one as we reopen our doors stronger than ever before!”
WHO ARE YOUR INSPIRATIONS?
Chef Williams: “My mom and my grandmothers. There was NOTHING they couldn’t get done. No problem too big, no crisis too strong. Grandma Barb made all the toys and doll clothes for 5 daughters when they had no money, and Grandma June taught herself to type, drive, and traveled the world all after becoming a widow. And if you need a project done, call my mother. Sharon Williams can paint an entire house (including the corners I miss and the areas I forgot to tape) in basically 24 hours.”
HOW DO KARL’S AND CANDY BAR PLAN TO CREATE A BETTER ENVIRONMENT FOR EMPLOYEES AS PEOPLE COME BACK TO WORK?
Villareal: “We offer above board wages and extremely strong benefits to our employees, not only as an incentive but as a belief in the well-being of our staff as a whole.”
IF YOU COULD HAVE A DRINK WITH ANYONE LIVING OR DECEASED, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU DRINK?
Chef Williams: “My Dad’s dad, my Grandpa Jack. I never met him, he died before I was born. He drank Manhattans, so we’d drink Manhattans… in fact, his sister was pouring him a Manhattan up north in Michigan when he died. My dad thinks so highly of the man he was, and it would be great to get a glimpse of that.”
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS FOR HOSPITALITY STAFF, BEHIND-THE-SCENES THAT RESULTS IN A SEAMLESS GUEST EXPERIENCE?
Villareal: “Fostering a culture of education, passion and individuality among our staff is paramount along with solid and consistent communication. We lead by learning.”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MENU ITEM?
Villareal: “Our Deep Fried Cheese Curds, served with a complex chili pepper jelly, represents what we do best here at Karl’s—classic Americana dishes with a modern Chef’s touch and technique.”
Chef Williams: “The Barb’s Maurice Salad. It’s the thing I craved most regularly during COVID 🙂 Or maybe the chicken fingers… or meatballs…. Ha! Spoiler Alert! Karl’s menu is really just the stuff I want to eat a lot of, lol.”
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