Years ago, after a midnight shift waitressing at the Nugget Restaurant farther east on Grand River Avenue, I’d often head to ‘Lil Chef for breakfast, driving past the beautiful building that harkens back to a gracious era of design.
I don’t remember what was housed there when I was always driving past; I was simply enchanted by the building’s beauty and grace. Originally the Mellus Hospital, in more recent memory, the building was also home to Leah Gold chocolate, which is no longer in business.
The Nugget Restaurant — where I waited on the man who would eventually become my husband — burned down a handful of years ago; an office building rose in its place. While ‘Lil Chef is still in business, it’s not where it was back in my table-waiting days; the original location is now shared by a Starbucks/Olga’s combination.)
Things change, and the more they change, the more they stay the same.
But no matter the changes in occupants and use of the new chamber building, its structure has always remained architecturally and classically elegant, a graceful and significant Grand River Avenue landmark, a gift passed down from one owner to the next.
That the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce purchased the building for its home is wonderful on several levels, not the least of which is the nod to the value of historic preservation, of bridging the chasm between old and new with a focus firmly fixed on the future.
It’s also recognition of the staying power of lovingly designed structures.
That the Brighton chamber chose to use a venerable building speaks volumes about its respect for all that has gone before. It’s about growing new branches from a tree with deep, deep roots. It’s also about honoring the past while driving headlong into the future.