2018-02-11 / Marketplace

Chef to open upscale barbecue restaurant in downtown Almont

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Craig Hilliker grew up In Capac. He, his wife, Jennifer, and their three children live in Romeo. He said opening his first restaurant in Almont is coming home in a way. 
Photo by Phil Foley Craig Hilliker grew up In Capac. He, his wife, Jennifer, and their three children live in Romeo. He said opening his first restaurant in Almont is coming home in a way. Photo by Phil Foley ALMONT — Barbecue is coming to Almont. Capac native Craig Hilliker is working to transform the old Prellas Almont Grille next to Founders Park on North Main Street into an upscale barbecue restaurant called Roots.

For the past five years the 33-year-old has been executive chef at Mitchells Fish Market. Before that he was a sous chef for Wolfgang Puck and worked at MGM Grand in downtown Detroit. After graduating from Capac High School Hilliker earned degrees in culinary arts and food service manager at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, S.C.

While the focus of Roots is going to be barbecue, Hilliker’s background and training is in fine dining and he plans to bring some of that to the new restaurants with seasonal specials.


After being closed for most of the past decade, Romeo chef Craig Hilliker plans to reopen Prellas in Almont as Roots and begin serving barbecue. After being closed for most of the past decade, Romeo chef Craig Hilliker plans to reopen Prellas in Almont as Roots and begin serving barbecue. He said Roots will offer “simple food done right.”

Prellas has been empty for the better part of a decade and Hilliker said he kept looking at it as he drove past on his way to his in-laws. “It’s a good locale, a good area. I love Almont,” he said, so when the opportunity to lease the restaurant came up, he jumped at it. “This is in my comfort zone,” he said.

“The building wasn’t in too bad a condition,” but he decided it was too bright, so he painted the ceiling black and is redoing the walls with gray paint and dark wood paneling.

Hilliker said the 4,500-square-foot restaurant has a seating capacity of 160 people. He said he’s putting in a mix of regular tables, booths and hightops.

He said the building wasn’t quite the turnkey operation the sign out front promised. The kitchen had a walk-in cooler, steam table and a deep fryer. Hilliker’s purchased a smoker and will be adding a stove and other equipment soon.

Once the renovations are done, which he’s doing himself, Hilliker said expects to hire around 25 employees.

He decided to name the restaurant Roots because on several levels he’s returning to his roots.

He’s shooting for a soft opening in March.

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