At the Union Woodshop, wood is more than just a part of their name, it's in the decor and it flavors all of their delicious food.
"I like wood shop because it speaks to a craft," said co-owner Curt Catallo. "It speaks to like wood shop in school or having to make something. In our case, I mean, everything you see here is born of wood, so it made sense to give a nod to the fuel."
Now this joint serves mostly barbecue, but it actually got its start as a French-influenced cafe. It was originally the Clarkston Cafe, a restaurant that had been around since the 1920s.
"Living a block away, I grew up in the Clarkston Cafe. I probably ate here more than I did at home," explained Catallo. "So for us, it was an opportunity to kind of preserve the building and the purpose, but we picked a terrible time to do it. We did it during the recession."
Luckily this was not their first restaurant, it is a part of the Union Joints, which includes such restaurants as the Clarkston Union and Vinsetta Garage among others. So they rolled with the punches in style.
"My wife does all of our interior design work and always has, and when it was the Clarkston Cafe, we had a lot of fun with it. We made it really funky, and then she kind of had to give it an extreme make-under to make it work for barbeque, but she had to do it with the elements that were already here. But in the long run you end up with a place that's really odd and honest, and that's what we're all about." said Catallo.
For food, they focused on what did really well for them in the past, wood-fired items.
"We'd always been about comfort food," said Catallo. "The mac and cheese is what we've built everything on, and it is just about that honesty and that simplicity, and you just can't out honest barbecue. 'Cause we're not out to reinvent the wheel, we're just out to respect the tradition of slow cooking, of barbecue, and what we can do in our back-lot smoker."
They are open this Memorial Day. If you would like to try the Union Woodshop, they are located at 18 S. Main St in Clarkston, MI.
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