Highland Park welcomes first new bar and grille in decades

As Lawrence Johnson watched Detroit's comeback, he kept asking himself why can't the same thing happen in his hometown of Highland Park.

So instead of complaining, he got to work. With the help of a buyout from his last employer, he purchased a building on Woodward and turned it into the Woodward Avenue Bar and Grille. 

"This is my first restaurant, bar, you know, startup," Johnson said.

The grand opening kicked off Friday and Johnson says his business has something for everyone - a sports bar, live music, a patio for summertime and don't forget the food.

"Lots of bar food, chicken quesadillas, mozzarella sticks, lamb chops, things of that nature" he said. 

Johnson's employees say they're excited to be onboard.

"Beautiful service, beautiful hospitality -including myself - the food is great and drinks are strong,” said Shay, a barmaid & waitress. 

Johnson believes one business opening in Highland Park could set off revitalization for the entire city.

In fact, Johnson says it's been decades since a bar and grill opened, or even existed in Highland Park.

"(There) was two, one was the pretzel bowl and I think dewdrop Inn," he said. "But that was when I was in high school and I've been out of high school going on 30 years."

But Johnson says it's time for people to start investing in Highland Park  

"The neighborhood is waiting for it," he said. "We need other people to come in and try some things out because we spend money here too."