On the corner of South University Avenue and South Forest Street sits Social House, Ann Arbor’s newest all-in-one restaurant serving the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor community.
The restaurant, which opened Sept. 17, offers a wide variety of food and beverages and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It also offers a coffee and smoothie bar in the mornings that is transformed into a bar at night.
Christopher Dunkel, Social House owner and operator, said the restaurant aims to provide a space for the community to relax and feel welcome.
“Social House was just made for campus living for the faculty and the students and a place where they both can coincide and feel comfortable,” Dunkel said. “We just wanted a place with a really nice atmosphere, good food and a place to hang out.”
Dunkel said some of their signature drink items include the lavender gin and tonic, which changes color when mixed, and their juices, which are freshly squeezed each day. The restaurant also offers $2 taco Tuesdays with $5 margaritas.
“We make all the sauces here,” Dunkel said. “We graze all of our meats here and everything; everything is made in house, nothing’s frozen. It’s kind of our motto, we like to stay fresh.”
Social House has been a year in the making, Dunkel said. Originally planning to separate the restaurant into three sections for a coffee bar, a southwest food area and an Asian food area, Dunkel said he decided to instead treat the multipurpose bar as the main area of focus.
“We made a big bar in the middle and in a more inviting atmosphere, a full restaurant where you can still pick up cafe drinks in the morning and pastries and smoothies,” Dunkel said. “We gravitated towards what people wanted and went from there.”
The bar includes an espresso machine and nitro cold brew for coffee in the mornings and has outlets for patrons to plug in their laptops to study. For the evenings, the bar also has three cocktail stations, draft beer and a full bar.
Dunkel said Social House had a soft opening to get the community’s opinions on the restaurant. After listening to their suggestions, the restaurant increased their portion sizes and included more vegetarian options on the menu.
“We have been trying to listen to everyone in the comments,” Dunkel said. “It’s been super helpful throughout the whole process, and I think it’s made us better in just a short amount of time.”
Additionally, Dunkel said Social House has very competitive prices with other restaurants in the area.
“I think some people will get scared to come in because it's got such an elegant look to it,” Dunkel said. “But when you come in with the menu and you realize the prices are very competitive, I think it's just a really great face for the University in general.”
LSA senior Armind Chahal lives in University Towers, the apartment complex directly above Social House, and said she decided to try the restaurant the day it opened. As a vegetarian, she said she liked their meatless options.
“It’s a really convenient place for food,” Chahal said. “Having a convenient place to get a veggie sandwich is nice.”
Chahal also said she thought the restaurant had good service.
“Our server was really nice,” Chahal said. “He knew about the menu, which was good … I’m sure they tried everything we had, so they were giving us descriptions of what we were ordering.”
LSA senior Kate Montero has also visited Social House since it opened. She said she enjoys the food and beverages and thinks the restaurant has very good deals.
“It’s a nice change to South U bars and food establishments. It’s pretty classy — it gives off Sava vibes,” Montero said, referring to the State Street staple.