A Belmont couple with a background in the local restaurant industry is getting ready to open a new eatery on the Medical Mile and then convert their current restaurants into the new entry.
Scott and Sue Drolema have plans to debut Donk’s Mexican Joint at 820 Michigan St. NE, near Eastern Avenue, in December. Although an exact date for the opening hasn’t been set, it will likely happen before Christmas.
The Drolemas describe Donk’s as a new concept in Tex-Mex eating and the future “home of the (almost) famous super burrito.”
“It’s high-quality food with quick service. We’re excited because we get to offer good food, good prices, good portions and quick service,” said Sue Drolema.
The Drolemas created a fun logo for Donk’s that they’ll use throughout their marketing, including on their napkins. It features a friendly looking donkey that will offer such amusing phrases as, “The dirtier the mouth, the tastier the meal.”
“We’re hoping that’s going to bring a little something extra to our restaurant,” she said with a smile.
The restaurant’s offerings will include wet and dry burritos, four types of tacos including the taco cheeseburger and dog, a meat tostada deluxe, a veggie tostada and a kids menu. Sue Drolema said the “stars” of Donk’s menu will be the super burrito in both wet and dry versions and a saucy steak burrito. They’re also including some gluten-free options. More information can be found at donksjoint.com.
The restaurant will seat 40 for dining and will have a drive-thru window. The Drolemas think their choice of Michigan Street is a good one. They believe that being in the Medical Mile corridor will enable them to meet the culinary needs of Tex-Mex fans, a base they feel is growing and includes college students and young families with children.
“I think the demographics that we’re hoping to reach are perfect for this area. It’s a new area. A lot of things are going on in the Michigan Street Corridor, and we wanted to be a part of that,” said Sue Drolema.
But they’re not stopping with Donk’s on Michigan. “We hope to convert our other existing restaurants into Donk’s over the next six months,” she said.
The Drolemas own four local Taco Boy restaurants: at 28th Street and Cascade Road, 44th Street and Roger B. Chaffee Drive, Alpine Avenue and Three Mile Road, and Monroe Avenue at Pearl Street downtown. They also own another one in Plainwell.
The Business Journal honored Sue Drolema as an emerging entrepreneur last year and named the Taco Boy chain as one of the Top Women Owned Businesses in the area.
The Taco Boy on 44th Street was the couple’s first restaurant. Drolema, who started the business from scratch in 2004, said she has been in the industry her entire career. “That’s basically how our concept came along. It’s from my experience over the years in hearing from our customers and employees on ways we could do things better,” she said.
“With this concept we’re really listening to and targeting our customers’ wants and needs for a Mexican restaurant. So that’s kind of where we got this new concept from — it’s from our customers and from our employees,” she added.
After putting that input into practice, the Drolemas strongly feel Donk’s is the next generation of restaurants. “Even though it’s a new restaurant, it feels like an old hangout. We’d like to expand and we’d like to franchise. At most quick-service restaurants, people come in, they eat and they leave. They never smile. We want people to smile. At Donk’s, even the napkins will make you laugh.”