A couple standing outside of a restaurant with a sign that says bravo.

Restaurant Doors Make a Great First Impression at Bravo!

For any restaurant, a first impression is important. And for most customers, that first impression is made right at the front door. The 180-seat Bravo! Restaurant & Café in Portage, Mich., celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017, and over that time, it served a variety of Italian-American cuisine, as well as its famous mushroom soup, for which chef/owner Shawn Hagen says, “people come from miles around.”

Even with that reputation, Hagen knows it’s important to make that good impression at the front door.

“That’s a big impression point right there, as people enter your business,” he says. More than 15 years ago, Hagen had Special-Lite SL-19 Wood Grain doors installed at the restaurant, and they’re still going strong. Hagen chose Special-Lite because, as he says, they have a “quality name and great reputation.” Talking with owners from other businesses that utilize Special-Lite doors convinced him they were the right choice.      

Corrosion Resistant FRP Lets Bravo! Salt to Taste

An exposed east-facing entrance meant that selecting exterior doors which could provide the look and feel desired, while still delivering long life and easy maintenance, would be no easy feat.

For buildings that welcome the public in northern climates, sidewalk de-icer, and road salt are facts of life for several months of the year.

The SL-19 Wood Grain FRP door was the perfect choice to provide the warm appearance of wood, without the upkeep of real wood. Teak wood stain and realistic wood grain texture on the face sheets created the right greeting for incoming guests. Custom arch-topped vision lites with applied muntins added a final touch of elegance. Class I anodizing of all aluminum surfaces and easy-to-clean face sheets provide the corrosion resistance needed, even when exposed to direct sunlight and harsh weather.

Recently, it came time to replace the doors leading to the patio at the restaurant. After his Special-Lite representative showed him various options, he chose the SL-15 aluminum stile and rail doors. They featured Special-Lite’s Wood Expressions decorative finish. Hagen was impressed by “a lot of little nuances you don’t even think about — how the closer would work, and how it would make it a lot easier for our staff to go in and out, just by the motion of the door.”

Doors Get Standing Ovation

These doors have been a big hit with the restaurant’s owners and guests, and other restaurateurs as well. Special-Lite has since been asked to quote exact replicas of these doors, right down to the custom pulls!

Hagen is a true believer in the quality and durability of Special-Lite doors, noting that they hold up “unbelievably well. Nothing lasts forever… but a Special-Lite door, maybe.”

Editor’s Note: Bravo! closed in 2020 after serving the Kalamazoo and Portage area for 33 years.