New Niles restaurant eagerly welcomes guests for dine-in service

NILES – After months of pushing back its grand opening, the manager of Create Bar and Grill Nate Barnett is finally able to welcome diners into the experience he hopes will inspire their imaginations.

On Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours before opening, Barnett and some of the staff were putting the finishing touches on setting up the dining room to accommodate the 25-percent capacity allowed in Michigan under the current COVID-19 mandates. With the capacity lowered, Barnett said it allows the restaurant to seat 50 guests at its location at 1245 S. 11th St. in Niles.

“We will have a chance to work with the training wheels on,” he said of the lower capacity. “We have a brand-new staff. Our kitchen staff is a well-oiled machine, but this will give us some time to get our legs under us at the front of the house.”

Choosing to focus on the positive is what Barnett has been doing as he has waited to debut the restaurant’s immersive, artistic concept to the community. Create Bar and Grill decided to transition to carry-out and delivery to keep some of the momentum going with their postponed original grand opening, which has kept the kitchen staff busy.

“Surprisingly, it’s been amazing,” Barnett said of the community’s response to their carry-out only options.

The restaurant has been offering its mix of creative comfort foods like hand crafted burgers, brisket and mac grilled cheese, and fingerling potato appetizers along with elevated offerings like pan seared jumbo sea scallops, steak frites and curries for guests to enjoy at home. The signature cocktails have been created in sealed to-go pouches, as opposed to glassware that gives its intended presentation.

With the dining room open, Barnett said the restaurant will shift its focus to carry-out and dine-in, and move away from its delivery option for now. The food and drinks can begin being presented the way staff originally hoped.

“The food has done amazingly well. The guests have really liked it, but now we can offer on top of that the whole dining experience,” Barnett said.

The experience includes original artwork from area artists displayed on the walls, all available for purchase. When diners are seated, there are already crayons and colored pencils sitting at their tables on top of a paper table covering. The art supplies invite diners to sketch, play games and illustrate thoughts and conversations to engage with one another in a tactile way.

“The staff have been super excited to start,” Barnett said. “They want to be a part of the restaurant and the concept. We are excited to have them. The most important thing is focusing on the guest experience.”

Diners can stop in and wait to be seated, or make reservations online at CreateNiles.com. Create Bar and Grill will be open 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

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