Just over two years ago, Kasey Chammout, owner of LaPita and other landmark restaurants in Dearborn, started renovating the building that used to house Dearborn Music for his new dining venture, Mint 29.
Chammout and his general contractor, Billy Salameh of Rock Commercial Construction, along with their landlord Todd Alcodray, tore out a chunk of the original building at 22000 Michigan Avenue, at the corner of Monroe Street, to make room for a patio and eventual seating area.
From there, preserving the structure, which was originally a bank, seemed to prove difficult. Issues included making sure the second-floor mezzanine was structurally sound and finding a route for the ductwork.
“It was challenging,” says Chammout. “But we felt an obligation to restore a part of Dearborn’s history.”
Thomas Paison, assistant director of Economic & Community Development for the City, agrees. “While renovating an older building can be complicated, as was the case with this building, the vision of a renovated and revitalized corner in the downtown guided a united effort by the developer and city staff to work through the challenges and produce a quality project.”
The main challenge was to make sure the second-floor mezzanine was structurally sound.
“Remember that this space was a music store, and a bank,” said Salameh. “It never needed to have a hood, the ducts, and a full kitchen, so this was a full transformation into a totally different zone, which is a full-service dine-in restaurant.”
Working with the City and its multiple departments made it easier.
“I have a great rapport with the City of Dearborn,” says Salameh. “I have worked on quite a few projects in the City, and we do what they ask us to do, because they do things right, and I appreciate that.”
Because of the difficult nature of the renovation, and the painstaking process of building the mezzanine up to code, “we had to have more inspections than usual,” said Salameh.
Once they got the structure stripped to its brick and structurally sound, they were able to map out the design of the place.
“The City worked with us because they knew our mission,” says Salameh. “They wanted it done right—other cities are not as safe, but Dearborn makes safety a priority.”
The City was committed to working with Salameh and Chammout from start to finish on such a long and extensive project.
“Building owners and contractor Billy Salameh have done a great job bringing the project to completion and restoring a long time City of Dearborn location to a new and exciting use,” said Ken Foley, the chief building inspector for the city.
“I’m an old-timer,” said Chammout. “I started with The Salad Bar, then LaPita and Ciao—I’ve been doing this for a long time. I always love to invest in Dearborn.”
Chammout is happy that Ford Motor Company is investing in downtown west Dearborn as well.
Ford is putting $60 million toward the completion of Wagner Place, a mixed-use complex of restaurant, retail, office space that will center on the famous turret of the old Wagner Hotel at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street, directly across the street from Mint 29.
“We breathe Ford in this City,” says Chammout. “These couple of blocks here, this is the heart of the City. It’s cool to see.”
More about Mint 29
Originally slated to be a steakhouse called "Fusion", Mint 29 got its new name during renovations, when the team discovered old décor from when it was a bank. It will still offer a variety of, or a fusion of international options, including sushi and even halal Kobe beef.
A soft opening is expected soon. For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/Mint-29-364730507243357/.