The new Birmingham upscale attraction 220 is a landmark in history. The restaurant is housed in the “Old Detroit Edison” building that has been standing since 1932.
The building was originally constructed by The Detroit Edison Company and served as the offices for the Northern suburbs. At one time, Edison actually had 72 customer offices located throughout the 13 counties in Southern Michigan.
Until 1975, customers of Detroit Edison had the convenient luxury of dropping off small appliances for repair, paying their electric bill at the counter or exchanging burned out light bulbs for new ones at no cost.
In the late 1970s, Detroit Edison began to take a massive turn due to management changes, new Public Service Commission rules and a class of action suit. This resulted in customer service changes forcing Edison to start charging for light bulbs and customers were not thrilled.
Under economic pressure, Edison needed a new plan. The company decided to sell the building to a group of developers and move to smaller quarters, just two blocks away on Merrill Street.
In August 1979, one of the first full service restaurants in the city was born.
220 Merrill Street Restaurant operated as a local gathering place for many people over 15 years. Whether you were a regular, a local or just stopping in town, everyone was welcomed. The design of the new restaurant was done by Ron Rea who knew the place first-hand. He chose to keep the original paneling and the marble slate floor in the bar area, along with the scrolled ceiling trim from when the building was originally built to keep the historic feel.
After a successful run, Herb and Carolyn decided to retire and sold the restaurant to the Roberts Family in the fall of 1993. The popularity of the restaurant over the years caused it be nicknamed and was official shortened to be known as simply, 220.
The newly refurbished restaurant held its grand opening on July 1, 1994. As a grand leader in history, Thomas Edison’s portrait greeted guests as they arrived in the front lobby.
Fast-forwarding to present day, in 2014 Denise Ilitch and her business partner Zaid Elia, owner of the Elia Group, purchased the Old Detroit Edison building. As Ilitch has been around the restaurant business all her life, she knew this was the right purchase to make.
Once Ilitch and Elia began to work on renovations they wanted to be sure to keep the spirit of the old restaurant alive.
The menu is comprised of mainly contemporary American cuisine.
The design and renovations were done by Chicago architect and restaurant designer Mark Knauer in partnership with Birmingham architect Christopher Longe.
The renovated restaurant launched on July 30, 2014 with an all white attire grand opening.
Ilitch and Elia are looking forward to continuing the restaurant’s legacy.