Diamond’s Steak and Seafood in downtown Howell is celebrating 30 years in business with a new menu and anniversary specials beginning Oct. 21.
Diamond’s “30 days for 30 cents” specials include its popular filet mignon tips as an add-on to any entrée for just 30 cents beginning Oct. 21.
That day will also see the debut of Diamond’s new menu, which will include lobster tails, whitefish Oscar, and a Ponzu truffle top sirloin.
For those who have never heard of Ponzu, a thin, tart sauce commonly used in Japanese cuisine, owner Adam Merkel said to be prepared.
“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s totally different.”
Merkel is a familiar face in the restaurant: He now owns Diamond’s after his mother and step-father, Nancy and Alex Mazaris, purchased it from long-time owner Steve Kresse in 2010.
Since then the eatery has undergone subtle physical changes, in addition to menu modifications. The result is something about which Merkel is excited.
“We’re really stepping up the cuisine,” he said. “For being in such a small place, it’s amazing what we produce.”
That small space will soon become larger.
To accommodate the extra demands on the eatery, it will undergo an expansion and renovation in three phases that are on target for completion in the spring.
The first phase, which gets under way in November, will modify the existing interior space to create a wine cellar, liquor and bar room, and new prep area.
Next comes an addition in the rear, which will enclose some of the open space and create separate entrances for customers and deliveries.
Then, the building will get a new façade, which includes a covered patio in front, as well as a new bar that will be double the size of the old, and windows across the front of the restaurant that will open to the newly created outdoor dining area.
“It will connect and engage the restaurant to the patio,” Merkel said.
After Diamond’s expansion is done, Merkel will turn his attention to opening another restaurant in downtown Howell.
“It will probably be an Italian restaurant,” Merkel said. The menu for it will include a braised meatball, in honor of his Great-grandma Rosie, who made the “best meatballs ever.”
“But that’s a year away,” Merkel said. “I am not sure of anything else.”
Merkel, 31, grew up in the restaurant business.
“It’s all I know,” he said.
His parents owned breakfast places, and he began cooking when he was 12.
“I used to go home everyday from school,” he said. “I’d work out recipes and (my parents) would let me run a special every Sunday.”
These days, Merkel finds himself wearing many hats at Diamond’s. He’s the executive chef, he takes care of the wine list, he designs the menus, and he oversees the business end, too.
The restaurant’s special filet mignon tips and other beef items come from Michael’s Meats in Columbus, Ohio. Before deciding on the company as Diamond’s supplier, Merkel spent an entire day at the plant.
“I checked out everything,” he said. “I wanted to be sure of the quality. It’s a state-of-the-art facility.”
Diamond’s buys, on average, 500 pounds of beef from Michael’s Meats each week, and flies in its seafood three times a week, ensuring freshness.
“With great ingredients and food prepared simply, you can’t go wrong,” Merkel said.
Just as exciting to Merkel is downtown Howell, where he is an active business owner who also serves on the city’s Downtown Development Authority board.
“Howell’s is one of the top thriving downtown areas around,” he said. “People need to pay attention to what’s going on here. It’s fun being at the forefront of all that’s happening.”