Is This Detroit’s Most Beautiful Restaurant? Inside Friend & Associate

Find inspiration in downtown Detroit’s newest Restaurant.

By GR Chair

Sadie II Barstools at restaurant bar.

Fluted glass panels, rich caramel leather chairs, original tile floor...need I say more? Actually, yes, because the design details of this downtown Detroit restaurant are too good to miss.

Which is why we went straight to the source to find out more: our friend and super talented design director of Patrick Thompson Design, Mary Eskin. Mary, along with a team at Patrick Thompson designed Friend & Associate—the posh full service restaurant at hand. Keep scrolling to see and learn more about Detroit’s newest (and arguably prettiest) restaurant.

AR: Describe Friend & Associate’s vibe in three words.

ME: Familiar, elevated, and authentic. It's a true combination of elevated interior space, the comfort of a familiar face, and genuine hospitality.

AR: What was the inspiration for the design?

ME: The name Friend & Associate resonated so well with us right from the beginning; instantly inspired by the partnership and friendship of the chef and general manager, we dove into the deeper meaning of what it is to share food and drinks with friends, loved ones, and colleagues. Celebrating the richness and comfort, much like a lifelong friendship, we wanted to craft the guest's experience through space and materials to feel like they are always in good company.

AR: The use of luxurious materials stands out in this project. How would you describe your approach to materials in busy spaces like restaurants?

ME: We approached the material selection with great care and attention to detail; our goal was for every selection to be intentional and practical to the end user, but also aligning with ownership’s bottom line. The materials seen throughout this space are a mix of muted tones and soft linear textures intended to stand the test of time.

AR: As a Detroit firm that intimately knows the city, what do you think projects like Friend & Associate do for Detroit?

ME: Detroit’s restaurant and bar scene is becoming well saturated and really pushes new establishments to be unique and sought after.

We were presented with a great opportunity to bring additional depth and elevated design to the Greektown neighborhood; an area of the city undergoing it’s own resurgence with an established repertoire of restaurants and bars.

AR: I love the photography on the walls! Can you tell us a bit more about why those were chosen?

ME: The artwork within the space is a true reflection of iconic friends, associates, associates who became friends, and the like. Each photograph was selected for the nostalgia it evoked; that naturally led us to pick classic dynamic duos in TV, music, and entertainment that are identifiable to guests, sparking fun memories and good conversation.

AR: Is there anything special about this project that guests might not know at first glance?

ME: One special thing we embraced during the construction process was the original tile floor. (The 501 Monroe building, before becoming a few different restaurants, was an international market in the Greektown neighborhood). We'd like to think this was a “happy accident” since we originally planned for an entire new floor to go in; once that tile was fully uncovered, it became very clear that it was meant to be. The palette of materials and finishes throughout was instantly enhanced by the color, pattern, and casualness of the mosaic tile.

AR: Lastly, what’s your favorite part of the space?

ME: The bar. In lieu of a traditional long single-sided bar, the large U-shape bar gives the guest an opportunity to experience the restaurant’s energy from all sides. You become witness to others enjoyment, have the ability to spot a familiar face from across the room, and eludes to effortless conversation with your bartender. Paired with the soft glow of the oversized, sculptural pendant lights above, it’s the perfect spot to spend an evening catching up with a friend over cocktails.

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