The character of downtown South Lyon is changing. And local leaders believe it’s for the better.

Plenty of investment is being made in the little downtown at Lake and Lafayette in southwest Oakland County, with one of the most visible immediate changes being to the Corner Caffe.

The coffee and ice cream shop is transforming into a place for the whole family, including mom and dad when they are looking to go out for a drink. The establishment at 101 S. Lafayette is changing its name to “The Corner Social” and is now serving alcohol on a separate bar.

Work to install a bar took place over the Thanksgiving weekend and the space now feature drinks and a lounge area in the eastern part of the space.

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Dr. Rhonda Bifano, one of the owners of the space with Mike Carano, said the plan was always to bring alcohol to the space since they acquired it about two years ago to make it more of a unique destination.

“The menu is basically going to stay the same, but we’re going to add the small plates,” she said. “So we’re going to have appetizers and small plates for the evening. Still going to have coffee, still going to have ice cream, still going to have sandwiches.”

Carano said they’re hoping to get suggestions from the community on what to bring to the restaurant in the coming weeks.

The restaurant expects to open later hours on the weekends as well, pouring wine, some beer and bourbon.

“The front area is going to be more family-friendly, the back area is going to be more of the wine bar,” Bifano said.

The name change to The Corner Social will better reflect the restaurant’s offerings and harkens back to the early 1900s, a feel Bifano said they wanted to replicate.

“We want to keep it in that Prohibition/speakeasy sense,” she said. “We want to keep the historical aspect to it.”

In addition to beer, wine and spirits, there will be a smoker to enhance the flavor of bourbon poured at the eatery.

“We’re actually adding a smoker, so it sits on the bar and it smokes the bourbon,” Bifano said. “I guess you can smoke anything, but it’s best to smoke bourbon.”

The improvements are just some of the work being done in downtown South Lyon, which is seeing millions of dollars in investment at several businesses both inside and outside.

Carano said the goal behind opening a wine bar to go with what’s already offered is to attract people that may instead head to other communities to socialize.

“We’re just thankful we’re able to do it in our town, South Lyon. We’ve been here for years and years,” he said. “We’re trying to make something fun and exciting that people can enjoy in our small town, which is growing rapidly.”

Contact reporter David Veselenak at [email protected] or 734-678-6728. Follow him on Twitter @davidveselenak.

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