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Dream Cruise Deathmatch: Service Station Restaurants

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What says fine dining better than the memory of old gasoline smell lingering in the air? We know the suburbs can be terrifying, but they're hard to avoid where the Woodward Dream Cruise is concerned. With the cruise coming our way in just over three weeks, it's time for a classic Curbed deathmatch among metro area restaurants that used to be gas stations and auto repair shops. First up, of course, Vinsetta Garage. This Berkley burgers-n-more joint on Woodward will have great sight lines for the cruise, if only from its sidewalk.

Vinsetta Garage offers its playful American fare in a building that housed one of the first auto repair garages in the US, having opened in 1919. The original owners, the Kurta family, lived in an attached apartment at the back of the building, which remains much as it was during the space's garage past (current owners use it for private parties). The nearly 100-year-old building has lovingly restored cement floors, a whimsical burst of neon in the exterior signage, and restrooms that make interesting use of thousands of pennies.

The Garage Grill & Fuel Bar

If you'd like to honor the spirit of the dream cruise while being far, far away from it, there's Garage Grill & Fuel Bar in Northville. Garage Grill, at the corner of Main Street and Wing Street Northville's picture-perfect downtown set up shop in the 1940 building, once a Gulf station, in 2012 after extensive renovations. The interiors were designed by Birmingham firm Ron & Roman, and are a bit on the cutesy side (there's a chandelier made of a car tire, e.g.) The menu offers categories like "compact" and "mid-size" in keeping with the car theme (in a cheesy way—um, because there is pizza). Garage also has an 80-seat private banquet room whose centerpiece is a fully restored 1930 Ford Model A.

Red Crown

Grosse Pointe Park's Red Crown offers a menu it describes as a "modern twist on good 'ole comfort fare with a healthy dose of Southern hospitality" inside a Standard Oil Red Crown Service Station built in 1932. The station's original glass-topped gas pump serves as a focal point in Red Crown's large, airy dining room. A bar tucked off to one side caters to social drinkers while the restaurant gets a good mix of young singles, couples and families. A new outdoor seating area continues the automotive theme, with a large Standard Oil sign taking up most of the adjoining exterior wall. Inside, the original garage doors (glass and steel) open in the summer, bringing the outside indoors on warm evenings. Red Crown opened in 2013 and shifted staff in 2014 to generally good reviews.

·Woodward Dream Cruise [Dream Cruise]
·Restaurant Travel Slide Show: Vinsetta Garage [Bon Appetit]
·Ron Rae, Restaurant Designer [Curbed Detroit]
·Vinsetta Garage [Vinsetta Garage]
·Garage Grill & Fuel Bar [Garage Grill]
·Red Crown [Red Crown]
·Red Crown Gets New Chef [Eater Detroit]
·Red Crown Succeeding Under New Chef [Detroit Free Press]