Downtown Brighton's newest restaurant is poised to officially open its doors to the public this Friday.

El Arbol, which is Spanish for “The Tree,” is the brainchild of successful local chef and restaurant owner Steve Pilon, who is also the owner of The Wooden Spoon on West Grand River. Pilon, who has a long-term lease from the Corrigan Corp. which owns the property, is billing the establishment as a “taco” restaurant that will also feature other standard Mexican fare. Pilon’s daughter, Lauren Pilon, will be the general manager of the café, and he's hoping within a year she will be able to buy into the restaurant as a co-owner.

The building was formerly the Yum Yum Tree, a Brighton institution for well over 20 years, which closed its doors in February of 2018. The site had been vacant since then. Pilon’s crew has been busy the last few months remodeling and restoring the 120-year-old building from the inside-out. “We felt (the building) was a historical piece of Brighton that ought to be preserved,” Pilon said. They’ve even made the second floor part of the restaurant, and it will have seating for 44. The main floor will seat 33, giving a total seating capacity of 77. When it was the Yum Yum Tree, the second floor was used as an apartment.

The café incorporates a novel feature: what Pilon calls a “taco window” on the St. Paul Street side, where pedestrians, or those who park their cars and walk up, can order tacos. It’s for foodies who want to eat “on the go” while strolling around Brighton’s trendy downtown. El Arbol temporarily opened the taco window to sell tacos during the “A Taste of Brighton” celebration last weekend, and reportedly did a “brisk business”. (TT/JK)