Great news for diners and dancers: 2FOGs Pub at 118a W. Grand River Ave. in downtown Howell is expecting to reopen under its new ownership within a month — as soon as the transfer of the liquor license for the business is complete — and in the works is a new and improved Wrangler’s Saloon — which closed in May because of the loss of business due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Both restaurants will be owned by the trio of Chris Stone, Winifred Dahm, and Holly Fletcher; Stone and Dahm live in Oakland County, and Fletcher lives in Howell.
Stone, a retired firefighter, and Dahm, also own the New Hudson Inn — the oldest bar in Michigan — as well as Gusoline Alley in Royal Oak.
Stone and Joe Parker, the original owner of 2FOGs, knew each other prior to the sale from frequenting the other’s establishment.
When Parker decided to sell his popular upscale restaurant, he had other people interested in buying it.
“But I wanted to sell it to someone who would take care of my employees,” he said.
“We’re going to make Joe proud,” said Stone, who is keeping 2FOGs as it is — pretty much.
Once it’s open, the popular Howell eatery will be serving lunch, as well as Sunday brunch with bottomless mimosas and bellinis. In addition to a couple menu “tweaks,” domestic beers will also be added to the bar.
Some of the staff will be back, but others “couldn’t wait after unemployment dried up,” Stone said, and have gone on to find other jobs.
“We got PPP funding for our other restaurants, but it wasn’t available to us (for 2FOGs),” Stone said.
The plans for Wrangler’s are much more extensive: same old attitude with a brand-new building with new business telephone systems, which means it will be a while before it opens.
“It’s a great location,” Stone said. “But we want to move it (on the property).”
Stone isn’t sure what will be involved with that, but he said they are going to “redo the whole thing,” while keeping the same formula of “music, dancing, and food,” which made Wrangler’s so popular.
“We’re into music, and that’s part of what makes Wrangler’s cool,” Stone said. “We are going to put in one of the best sound systems around.”
Wrangler’s menu will include wood-fired pizza, sliders, mac and cheese, and wings.
Fletcher’s experience will transfer well to 2FOGs. She managed Stillwater Grill in Brighton for a long time, leaving after it was purchased by an Ann Arbor restaurant corporation.
“I lasted about a year after it went corporate,” she said. “I am a family person, and when it went corporate, it went corporate for real.”
Fletcher, who lives in Howell, then went to work for Jonna’s Bar & Grill, located in the strip mall at M-59 and Michigan Avenue in Howell.
She’s known Stone for years, and was about to open up a slider joint of her own in Howell when he approached her to help manage 2FOGs.
“I told him I was sitting on a lease,” Fletcher said. “One thing led to another, and now the three of us will own 2FOGs and Wrangler’s.”
As for Joe Parker, the former owner of 2FOGs dubbed the Godfather of Downtown Howell, won’t be far away.
“I feel good. I love Howell,” Parker said. “My five grandkids are growing up in Howell. I will always have a lot of ties to the community.”