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Business Dining SEEN Entrepreneur SEEN Food + Drink Restaurants + Chefs

THE TOWNHOUSE EXPERIENCE

Published March 2, 2017 by

Jeremy Sasson gets ready to open his new concept

By Mary Meldrum

“Our philosophy is taking care of people through food and beverage,” says Jeremy Sasson.

His first restaurant is Townhouse in Birmingham, which opened in 2011 and has become a staple in the community.

“We get to see a lot of the same faces, and we know how they like their particular food and drink experiences,” Sasson says. “Today, we operate two restaurant operations with about 210 employees. Our business is predicated on understanding the guest experience and teaching and practicing the world of hospitality to our team and to our guests.”

Sasson had never worked in the restaurant business before he dove in at age 25 with the Townhouse in Birmingham.

Graduating from the University of Miami in Florida with a finance degree, he thought about going into finance, but decided on real estate. That was around 2008, and the real estate market was not good.

“Obama had just taken office and renewable energy was big on the horizon, so I studied renewable energies,” says Sasson, who started a commercial solar business in New Jersey with a buddy.

Although he enjoyed his time in that business, he knew it wasn’t his calling. He moved back to Detroit in 2010 to again attempt to explore real estate. He came across the Townhouse location in Birmingham, bought it and decided almost overnight to go into the restaurant business.

“It wasn’t a very long stint in real estate for me,” he jokes. But that one real estate opportunity led him to where he is today.

Jeremy Sasson wears a black suede shirt jacket, $1,998, Tiger graphic tee, $78, Bowery knit jeans, $198, and Reed Sharpei Chelsea sneakers, $448, available at John Varvatos, Detroit

Lobster Tempura

Townhouse Roasted Mushrooms

 Pressing Forward

With his second operation, Townhouse Detroit, Sasson says he set out to create a seismic opportunity for the people in Detroit. A larger scale version of his first restaurant, the 6,000-square-foot Townhouse Detroit, at the corner of Woodward and Congress, opened in July 2015. It features a cool retractable atrium space that allows guests the feeling of being outside.

Sasson will be opening his third operation in the spring or summer. Project No. 3 is a new concept for Sasson and his team. The name of the new business is Prime + Proper and will be the “next generation of chophouse,” he says.

Prime + Proper will have a lot of the old chophouse experience with in-house aged steaks, a full in-house butchery, wood-fired grills and a full understanding of exactly where all the food and ingredients come from.

A gateway project to the redevelopment of Capitol Park in Detroit, Prime + Proper will be a two-floor, 10,000-square-foot operation with a large, beautiful outdoor dining area. It will initially open with a happy hour and dinner-only service seven days a week. Full capacity will be almost 400 seats.

“We are very excited to be part of that redevelopment and part of that community in Detroit,” Sasson says. “This will be a place where guests will appreciate all the craft that goes into the food and beverages, but at the same time, they can feel very comfortable in the space.”

Sasson says this is “definitely the most courageous project we’ve undertaken. Detroit Townhouse is a big project, but this is far more progressive in the food and far more courageous in the style.”

The word “prime” in the title is important, he says, because it focuses on the best quality of lamb, beef, poultry and fish. “There will be wild game products; there will be an amazing seafood program and a full raw program with caviar service,” he says. “Even our vegetables we can label as prime. We feature prime-sourced heirloom products that are in season.”

The “proper” part of the name comes from the service and the preparation of the food.

“We are looking at the farmers’ practices and standards for processing,” Sasson says. “For beef, for example, we traveled to Iowa, Kansas and looked at a Texas beef organization. Our focus is on finding and buying from farms that have standards equal to our standards.”

Famous Townhouse Burger

Cornflake- encrusted Walleye

Sasson’s Philosophy

“The reason I am in this business,” he says, “is because I love putting on an experience, a show, every day and night and watching people’s reactions.”

Sasson says he wasn’t a good enough singer to make it in show business, and he wasn’t going to be in movies, “but being in a show is definitely something I appreciate, and that is how I view the restaurant business.

“You turn on the lights and the music, and the stage is set. The people start walking in, and there is a performance to put on every day.

“Food and beverages are just characters. They change and people want to see character development and they want to see product evolution,” he adds. “That has always been my psychology behind the business.”

When he was a young boy, Sasson ate out a lot because his mom worked. He has early memories of the feeling of opening the menus and being served, and those memories are the foundation of why he is in the restaurant business.

“For many people, eating out is a special event,” he says. “We need to identify their special moments. We don’t know where you came from and what brought you through our door. It is our job to figure that out and make sure your experience is exceptional.” NS

Shop Jeremy’s Look available at John Varvatos online or in-store:

Suede Shirt Jacket $1,998, Tiger Tee $78, Bowery Knit Jeans $198, Reed Sharpei Chelsea Sneaker $448

Birmingham:
248.792.5241
180 PIERCE STREET
BIRMINGHAM, MI 48009
INFO@EATATTOWNHOUSE.COM

Detroit:
313.723.1000
500 WOODWARD AVE
DETROIT, MI 48226

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