Grab a bite with a side of history at this Detroit bar

It’s the perfect spot to go before or after the Auto Show

Dine in the D: Grand Trunk Pub on Live in the D

The North American International Detroit Auto Show opens to the public this weekend, and many people will be flocking to Detroit. After looking at all the latest and greatest cars, you may be wanting to sit down and grab a bite to eat.

Well, how does a classic Reuben with Michigan-made beer sound?

At Grand Trunk Pub in Detroit, they like to focus on all the favorites you’d expect to find at a bar.

“My authentic calling was to make it a Detroit pub, and do everything I could that was Detroit based and Michigan based,” says Timothy Allen Tharp, the owner.

In fact, it was Tharp’s love of Detroit that made him want to buy the bar in the first place, as the building has a long history in the city.

Originally it was a jewelry store, then in the early 1900s Grand Trunk Railroad took the building over and made it their ticket office. According to Tharp, when Grand Trunk started to focus more on freight transportation in the 1930s, they sold the building and it almost immediately became a bar.

Just after the Super Bowl came to Detroit in 2006, Tharp took it over from Foran’s Irish Pub.

In the early days of operating the restaurant, Tharp tried to stick to Foran’s original menu and concept. Then, on the first St. Patrick’s Day, he had a crisis on his hands, his supplier couldn’t get him the Guinness he needed for the holiday.

Instead, he reached out to New Holland brewery, and they came to his rescue delivering several kegs of their Poet Stout. St. Patrick’s Day was a big success, and after talking with New Holland Brewery, he decided to take a leap of faith and serve only Michigan beers on tap.

With that change, he felt Foran’s Irish Pub no longer fit with the new identity. Since the name Grand Trunk was already on the building in tilework, he decided to change the name to Grand Trunk Pub.

When the pandemic hit, and they were forced to close down, he finally had the opportunity he had been waiting for to restore the place to the days of its namesake. On the day they closed, his crew knocked down the old bar which he said was held together by “gum and paperclips” and got to work. A new bar was made out of the wood floor, which he ripped up to reveal the old mosaic tilework Grand Trunk originally installed. He also redid the plaster on the vaulted ceilings and repainted all the trim.

Hanging on the walls of the restaurant you can see old pictures of the Grand Trunk Railroad ticketing office, and see all the details he restored.

On the menu, you will find some Irish dishes, an homage to its previous incarnation as Foran’s Irish Pub. He still uses the same recipe Foran’s did for their corned beef, which you can get in their Reuben rolls, as a Reuben sandwich, or in their corned beef and cabbage dinner. They have lots of sandwiches on the menu including a Veggie Riot wrap with their house-made hummus, panko-crusted eggplant and roasted red peppers. Grand Trunk Pub is also very well known for their brunch, where you can order a lobster benedict or its signature chicken and waffles with pure maple syrup.

For more details on the menu and the restaurant, watch the video above.

Grand Trunk Pub is located in the heart of Downtown Detroit, right on Woodward between Congress and Campus Martius.

About the Author:

Michelle Oliver is a multimedia Journalist for the 10 a.m. lifestyle show, "Live in the D." She is known as "the food girl" because of her two popular food franchises, Dine in the D and Find Your Fix. Michelle also covers stories on homegrown businesses, style, and other fun things happening in the D.