By Tom Tolen /

The ever-changing restaurant and pub scene in downtown Brighton continues to evolve.

These days, it seems like no sooner does one place open than another opens or changes ownership. Five of the most recent changes involve new ownership with a name change. Another merely involves an ownership change while retaining the same name. Still another is a planned microbrewery.

CANOPY LOUNGE - One of new looks to downtown Brighton is an entirely new business. It's the Canopy Lounge, located at 206 E. St. Paul St., just off Grand River. Partners Bill Opre and John Kallabat had dreamed on opening a trendy lounge for a long time and purchased the former Napa Auto Parts store to be the home of their lounge. Don’t expect the lounge to have “bar" food like beer nuts and pickled eggs. Far from it. The Canopy features seafood and signature dishes such as grilled lamb chops, steak tips, a smoked salmon tray and pan-seared scallops. Kallabat and Opre named the lounge in honor of the former Canopy Restaurant - a high end establishment on Grand River that closed in the 1980s. The Canopy specializes in small plates like oysters Rockefeller and quesadillas. The Canopy also features seasonal cocktails and other mixed drinks and has eight beers on tap.

CHAMP’S PUB - A downtown Brighton institution is Champ’s Pub at 140 E. Grand River. It has now changed hands after 41 years, with long-time owner Dave Beauchamp selling his business to Win Dahm, who is also the new owner of the Log Cabin on Grand River between Howell and Brighton. Dahm says no changes are planned at Champ’s, which will retain the locally iconic name. Champ’s will continue to serve what has been called “The best burger in Livingston County." Beauchamp says, “Brighton has been a great experience,” adding that Dec. 31st will be his last day before he retires to his home in Superior Twp.

ACAPULCO MEXICAN GRILL - The Wooden Spoon at 675 W. Grand River was a popular fine dining restaurant which has been sold and converted into a Mexican restaurant. Before it was The Wooden Spoon, the restaurant served Tex-Mex fare as Mexican Jones - so it has turned full circle. The new Mexican restaurant is called the Acapulco Grill. Former owner Steve Pilon owns another Mexican bistro, El Arbol, at W. Main and St. Paul streets, run by his daughter, Lauren. The owner of Acapulco Grill is listed as Frandorson Properties LLC.

LABEL KITCHEN + BAR - The former Stout Irish Pub at 125 East Grand River also recently underwent an ownership change and is now called Label Kitchen + Bar. The new owners are Steve Anderson and Josh Zieziul. Although the establishment was purchased back in April, the new owners kept the “Stout”name until recently. Beyond the name change, many other aspects of Stout - which was patterned after a traditional Irish pub — have been changed. For instance, the menu is new, except for the signature fish & chips. Anderson says he and his business partner “are excited about coming to Brighton.” The pub still has both Guinness and Harp’s Irish beers on tap along with 13 others. Anderson says the interior has been remodeled and now has a “more modern look." Label features live acoustic guitar music on Thursdays and a live band featuring rock & roll or country on Saturdays.

CAPTAIN’S ON MAIN - Two Brothers Coffee at 423 W.Main, which was owned by Jim Starnes, is now the permanent home of Captain’s On Main. Owner Nick Mannisto started a food truck business called Captain’s Wood Fired Pies during the height of the pandemic, and was able to parlay his earnings into the purchase of Two Brothers. It has a wood-fired pizza oven, and Mannisto confidently says his pizzas are, quote, “Some of the best in Michigan.” Captain’s also has Good Sense Coffee (an artisan coffee roaster located just outside of Brighton), salads, alcoholic beverages including both tap and bottled beers, pop, teas and espresso from a new machine.

LOS TRES AMIGOS - The former Buon Gusto Bistro at 501 W. Main, at the corner of First St., is now in the process of being remodeled to become the latest Los Tres Amigos. The Michigan chain already has 14 locations, including one on Grand River, just east of Latson Road in Genoa Twp. The company hopes to open the new business within the next few months.

FULL CIRCLE BREWS - Finally, if given state and federal approval, Brighton will get its second microbrewery next year, to be called Full Circle Brews and housed in a shopping center on West Grand River where Whey Better is currently located. WHMI chronicled their planned new business in a story that was aired last week. Link:

Photos, from top: Label Kitchen + Bar (formerly Stout), Champ's Pub, Canopy Lounge