Close friends John Kallabat and Bill Opre are gearing up to open The Canopy Lounge, a new lounge-style bar and small plates eatery.
While the buildout was delayed about a year by shortages in labor and materials during the pandemic, they say the time has finally come. The pair has begun interior renovations at a vacant storefront in downtown Brighton.
They started renovations last week in a former auto parts store located in the same building as Canopy Bottle and Gourmet Shoppe. Kallabat owns the entire building at 204 and 206 E. St. Paul St.. He has run the liquor store for about 40 years.
When it opens, the lounge-style bar will serve high-end liquors and wines, as well as brands such as Bud Light, and small plates.
Kallabat said the lounge will likely attract a mature crowd.
“My vision is we want a place where you can get off work and say, ‘I’m going to stop by The Canopy Lounge and I’m bound to see someone I know there,'” he said.
“It will be a nice, little meeting place to get together with a few friends for cocktails and a small bite to eat. On the weekends, maybe we’ll have music, like a guitarist there strumming, but nothing too loud. It will be something for us older adults, but we won’t turn anyone away, of course.”
Opre, a custom builder and real estate broker, is overseeing construction.
“We’ll have a big, two-sided fireplace with glass around and couch clusters on both sides, so it will feel like your living room,” he said.
He said an approximately 50-foot-long bar will likely be the longest bar in town.
“In the back, we’re building a high-end kitchen. We’re not trying for bar food. For the most part, it will be high-end stuff that complements the cocktails. We’ll have wild game, seafood,” Opre said.
The lounge will also feature high-top and low-top tables and seat somewhere around 100 people.
“We plan to do a lot of guest chefs, special events, wild game dinners and private events,” Opre said.
They have already completed some exterior improvements to the building, including a new stone façade.
The building also features additional unused space.
Opre said he is entertaining a few ideas for how to use the additional space, but nothing is final.
He said part of it might be turned into a private, members-only lounge.
“We have a lot of ideas, but some things will wait until after we’re open and see how it goes.”
They say their goal is to open by the end of fall.
“We should have been open already. It held us all up working on the inside. Also our liquor license, that was a year, because it took them longer. They didn’t have the help,” Kallabat said.
He said it took longer than expected to line up contractors for the remodel.
“Everything is costing us a little more because of labor costs and lumber costs, and it did put us over our normal budget, but that’s how it goes.”
He said it has also been difficult to secure equipment and furniture.
“Everything is back order, kitchen equipment, furniture.”
Despite delays and uncertainty during the pandemic, Kallabat said he was not concerned that the project would fall through.
“That was never a question for us. This town has been real good to me, so hopefully everything will go well,” he said. “We can’t wait to open ourselves. We’re looking forward to seeing what the community thinks when we get it up and running.”
Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at jt[email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @jennifer_timar.