A Restaurant Design Rooted in Good

See how designer Oliver Nasralah of the Hallarsan Group creating the brand, interior design, and digital identity of Brome Modern Eatery in 2015.

By GR Chair

Restaurant with Hugh and Brady chairs.

We know, you hear it all the time, “It’s more than a burger joint, it’s an experience.” With over 50,000 burger restaurants in the country, it’s no wonder our palates are fatigued. Slap on some reclaimed  wood, hang a neon sign, and offer a juicy burger, and you have the burger joint starter kit. But, just as I was giving up on the better burger saga, my eyes, mouth, and heart were opened to a new restaurant called Brome Modern Eatery.

Tucked into the Financial District of downtown Detroit, Brome's second location was originally built as a bank, but is now a fine casual restaurant. Principal and lead designer Oliver Nasralah of the Hallarsan Group was tasked with creating the brand, interior design, and digital identity of Brome Modern Eatery in 2015. The second location, an impressive 6,000 square foot space, is open and airy, featuring a live plant wall, a second-story juice bar, and a spectacular mural.

Sadie II Chairs with white seat and yellow frame.

Purposeful Details

You’ll notice right away that wood is an important element of the design. It can be found on the Michigan Maple wood tables, the wood slat wall, the traditional wood dining chairs, and  even in your ordering experience.

“We wanted the interior space and the menu to live symbiotically,” said Nasralah. Brome—which is literally is a type of grass that North American cows graze on—donates to the National Forest Foundation to support their Tree Planting Initiative as a way to give back to the community and planet. Customers have the opportunity to donate to the organization with their meal. For every dollar donated, a tree will be planted. In the month of October, every dollar donated gets matched by Brome Modern Eatery.

And that’s the thing with Brome, every detail is purposeful and interconnected. For instance, the owners and Nasralah opted to source strictly Michigan-made products and services, living up to their mission of consciously making an impact. The live plant system, while not only beautiful, is meant to grow with the company. It cascades up the two story vestibule, and it's positioned to sprawl over the dining room ceiling in the coming months, creating a canopy of leaves above diners' heads. “The goal with the live wall is for it to become part of the building. Since the building and most of the fixtures are permanent, we wanted something that would continually  grow and change, creating a new experience for customers each time they come back,” said Nasralah.

Hugh Chairs with Brady Chairs.

All About Balance

Brome offers all-American comfort food like organic burgers, fries, and shakes. The executive chef worked hard to develop the menu in a way that speaks to the values of Brome. Additionally, when you  walk upstairs, you’ll find Balence Juice, a fresh-pressed juice bar. Admittedly, I was perplexed to find a place that serves both indulgent burgers and nutritious smoothies, but Nasralah explained that they wanted to provide both options. “The owners were interested in giving customers health-conscious options alongside delicious, satisfying meals as a way to encourage a balanced, healthy lifestyle.”

Along with balancing their menu, Nasralah balanced the design by mixing rustic  architectural features with lively contemporary furniture, colors, and artwork. The main dining room has mostly neutral tones but is tempered with pops of blue and yellow on the chairs and the lush greenery. Upstairs in Balence Juice, you will find the same colorful modern chairs in a bright, light-filled space. The designs in both spaces are not overly done, but rather, comfortable and modern, layered with details from the past and values of the present.

But, our favorite element of the space is the mural. Situated in the stairwell, the two-story mural was painted by Kyle Danley (aka Wetiko), a local Detroit artist. It’s the connecting piece to both Brome and Balence Juice. The words “Rooted in Good” are centered in the mural, perhaps connecting the message between the restaurant’s menu, design, sourcing, and partnerships. It radiates community and positivity. Nasralah also noted that other artists are featured in the space. They reach out to local artists every few months, to treat their space like an art show, a concept Nasralah calls "gallery eating." Patrons can expect to see new artists and their work quarterly, which is yet another detail meant to enrich the lives of the customers.

Brome is a cyclical, all-encompassing, community-driven experience. I realize that word “experience” has lost some its cache in terms of design and space, but if there is a place to use it, it’s here. Like Nasralah said, “It’s more than a burger place.”