Raskin: A ‘Light’ In The Restaurant Business  

The Jewish News
Danny Raskin

Danny Raskin

Many folks have their own ways of relaxing or enjoying changes of paces in life … Whether it be playing golf or maybe going on trips or whatever … Norm LePage does his with changing restaurant names and opening new dining spots.

He changed his Eton Street Station’s name to Big Rock Chophouse 20 years ago … Before that, he had opened Nifty Norman’s, Norm’s Oyster Bar, Norm’s Diner, Norman’s Union Station, Squire’s Table, East Side Mario’s, a couple of Salvatore Scallopini’s, etc. … And today’s Big Rock Chophouse, Griffin Claw Brewing, The Reserve, Got Rocks Diamond Crown Cigar Lounge, etc.

Now it will be another restaurant … Lumen, slated to open in early spring of 2018 by Norm, wife, Bonnie, son Scott and his wife, Susanne LePage … Norm and family were picked by DTE Energy after a nationwide search by the energy giant to completely and solely run the restaurant operation at their new setting … It will anchor the beautiful recently opened DTE Energy’s Beacon Park on Cass and Grand River, Detroit … Lumen means light in Latin.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary as Big Rock Chophouse, Eton Street, Birmingham, menu additions now include a small plates section that features a variety of smaller entrees like Mediterranean Shrimp with artichokes, spicy tomato, spinach and lemon; Tuna Tartare with red pepper, lemon, lime jalapeno, wasabi and wonton; Parisian Gnocchi with mushrooms, goat cheese and spinach; petite filet with red wine sauce; beef burger; buffalo burger, etc.

Also, the new 15-ounce Cover Crop Delmonico steak … Similar to organic and grass-fed, Cover Crop is the new healthy trend in the meat business … Big Rock is one of two local eateries now with a Cover Crop menu … Also big sellers on the Big Rock menu are chilled whole artichoke with citrus aioli, sautéed scallops with peas and ricotta ravioli, etc.

Excellent general manager Vera Rizer, Michigan Restaurant Association’s 2016 Manager of the Year, is still doing her wonderful things in satisfying Big Rock customers … Her knowledge of food, wine and people is greatly acknowledged … It is beyond realization that Vera was a bartender for Norm and Bonnie at their Eaton Street restaurant back in 1984.

Yes, Norm and Bonnie have other ways of relaxing, too … Like recently returning from Lebanon with friends Sameer and Leila Eid of Birmingham’s Phoenicia.

Has Norm stopped opening new restaurants? … I think not … In the fall, he’ll open a second location of Griffin Claw in Rochester Hills.

He may not play golf, but Norm sure hits a hole-in-one every time he opens another restaurant or site.

Norm and Bonnie

REMEMBERING … Going to Northwood Inn on Woodward to hear songstress Nan Corrone sing “My Yiddishe Mama” in Italian … And Dancemaster Joe Cornell (Cornella) standing and yelling “That’s a my baby!” when she finished.”

HAVE YOU EVER eaten a Bar-Le-Duc sandwich? … You might have as a youngster or even still do today and never knew it had such a fancy name … Many folks still love theirs … but know it only as a cream cheese and jelly sandwich … Numerous enjoy their Bar-Le-Duc on a toasted English muffin, too … Hmm, doesn’t sound bad.

REARVIEW MIRROR … With mouth-watering memories of when Harry Shepherd and Sol Pitt owned Shep’s Delicatessen across the street from Kosin’s Clothes on Griswold … Where waitress Shirley Kaufman regularly brought me what seemed like a whole loaf of rye bread with my brisket of beef plate … It was during lunch hour from the Jewish News when our offices were in the David Stott Building … The rye bread was to “dunk” in the luscious-tasting gravy with the terrific brisket that I usually devoured there … In years after, when Sol had the deli at Alban’s Bottle & Basket on Woodward in Birmingham, he never forgot and made sure that I had plenty of rye bread for his exact same gravy and yummy brisket of beef.

OLDIE BUT GOODIE … Rabbi Friedman did a double take. There in the restaurant, clearly visible through the large window, was the president of his Orthodox congregation. And yes, that was a bowl of clam chowder the waitress was setting before him.

As the rabbi watched in horror, the main dish, jumbo shrimp wrapped in bacon was set down next to it. Oblivious to the rabbi’s disgusted look, the president ate his way through his dinner.

When he left the restaurant, the rabbi stopped him and said, “You of all people, leader of the congregation, supposed to be an example — how could you eat such treif!”

The president replied, “You saw me eat the soup? And the shrimp?”

“Yes and yes,” the rabbi replied.

“Then there is no problem,” said the president. “I ate my food under rabbinical supervision!”

CONGRATS … To Marissa Fournier on her birthday … to Suretta Saltz on her birthday … To Fred Schott on his birthday … To Lonnie and Gail Zimmerman on their 45th anniversary.

Danny’s email address is dannyraskin2132@gmail.com.

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