Local restaurateur Demos Panos put his Smokehouse Blues Bar and Grill on Washtenaw up for sale last year so he could concentrate on his other businesses. That paved the way for his longtime friend, Louie Vushaj, to open the exotic-sounding Brahma Steakhouse & Lounge in March.
Ironically, Vushaj was himself on the verge of pulling back after working in the restaurant business since he was a teenager. (His most recent foray, Bravo's in Auburn Hills, was sold to fund Brahma.) But he was intrigued by the location--a popular spot for beef for decades, it was originally Herc's Beef & Spirits--and by Ann Arbor in general, and he knew the area's restaurant business because his niece, Sava Lelcaj, owns Sava's on State. It was one of those charmed opportunities that seemed like the right fit. "Everything fell together," Vushaj says happily.
The name comes from the Spanish Brahma bull, and Vushaj says at least one of the steaks on the menu will be Brahma beef. The rest of the menu will feature more familiar varieties of beef, fish, and pasta, with main course prices running around $10 to $20.
Vushaj says he pretty much gutted the place, and it now sports new hardwood floors and booths, fresh paint, and a newly spiffed-up bar. He calls the atmosphere "very casual. We're a steakhouse. We want everyone to be comfortable."