New to the Southfield City Centre, but with a well-established name, Starters Bar & Grille opened quietly in mid-December for carryout and delivery of its steakhouse fare and is poised to welcome diners in-house as soon as state COVID restrictions allow.
By setting up in Southfield, Starters Bar & Grille co-owner Ali Saad says he has made a smart business move and fulfilled a dream at the same time.
In the 23 years Saad has been a restauranteur, he has worked hard to get to know his customers and welcome them as friends at the Starters Bar & Grille locations he runs with his father, Bahaa Saad, and uncle, Mike Saad, in Harper Woods, in midtown Detroit on Woodward, and the original Detroit location on Plymouth Road. (Their Dearborn location closed permanently during the pandemic economic shutdown in March 2020.)
It didn’t take long for Saad to realize that many of his best customers were from Southfield, and for them, he wanted to bring Starters closer to home. “It’s been my dream for 10-plus years to open in Southfield,” Saad says.
The newest Starters Bar & Grille is now open at 25242 Evergreen Rd., in the City Center Plaza near Ten Mile.
The welcome to Southfield couldn’t have been warmer. “I wanted to bring my dad’s vision and our brand to Southfield and we’ve been welcomed immediately. Customers are dancing around and thanking me when I should be the one dancing around and thanking my customers,” he says with pride and humility. “I wake up smiling and happy with the feeling I’m being welcomed into the community with open arms.”
Southfield is the perfect choice
For the first Starters location outside of Wayne County, Saad says he couldn’t have made a better choice than Southfield. As a much-needed entertainment and dining location in the Southfield City Centre, Starters will bring steakhouse fare to its target market of “2 years old to 90 years old,” Saad says, adding that with the business community, upscale hotels and surrounding residential communities, Southfield has “the trifecta” for Starters.
“I reach out for culturally diverse areas, and Southfield offers that. We know that if five people go out for dinner together, each person will find something they love on our menu,” he says. From wings, burgers, steak, lobster, crab, shrimp, fish and fettuccine, “we target the masses.”
In addition to its family-pleasing menu, Starters has a calming ambiance with custom-built booths, black granite surfaces flecked with gold and touches of hand-crafted woodworking. “The bar is our focal point, and our restaurant space is welcoming to families, children and grandparents. We want people to be able to come here, have a cocktail and enjoy themselves after a long day at work,” Saad says.
Fourteen large-screen TVs will cater to sports-loving customers and the high-end sound system will provide crisp, clear background music for diners. Lawrence Tech students will appreciate the phone chargers cleverly installed under the bar and at the meeting table, too.
“We executed it properly with the design of the space,” Saad says. Right now, Starters spans space formerly used by two restaurants, and will soon expand into a third contiguous space to provide even more dining space, eventually covering about 5,200 square feet.
A community anchor
Family owned and operated since 1977, Starters becomes a staple in its communities because it is a good employer, Saad says. “When we first opened, we hired our very first chef and he still works for us today. He’s still a part of the family,” Saad says. “We are not burn-and-churn with regard to hiring and firing. People who work with us stick around for 15 or 20 years and that’s something we hold high on our priority list. Consistency is the key to success, and with consistency of service, product and attitude, we are there.”
As a small business that brings food, drink and entertainment to a thriving Southfield City Centre, Starters Bar & Grille is excited to get to know new customers — from residents to business people to faculty and students at Lawrence Tech.
“I recognize that we are the missing puzzle piece in the grand scheme of things here, but I will humbly say that I needed the city of Southfield more than they needed me,” Saad says.
Visit Starters Bar & Grille at 25242 Evergreen Rd. in the Southfield City Centre. startersdetroit.com