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Long Bridge adds a second story, plus more all-season seating

The lower level bar has been updated with colorful designs and equipment to insulate the space during every season of the year. Emily Driscoll / Tribune1 / 4
Two flights of stairs lead up to the new patio addition. One set is in the front, and another in the back next to an elevator making the upper level all accessible. Emily Driscoll / Tribune2 / 4
Long Bridge has a whole new look to the exterior. The parking lot has been updated and expanded, with an entire upper level patio painted white and landscaping coming soon. Emily Driscoll / Tribune3 / 4
The newly added upper level patio will be open during warmer months. There are about a dozen tables plus a bar in addition to the two other bars at Long Bridge. Emily Driscoll / Tribune4 / 4

The Long Bridge Bar and Grill and Marina on Detroit Lake still has its large patio by the lake and swarms of kids jumping off the bridge as it always has, but there are some big changes to the structure and design of the restaurant.

It can now accommodate larger crowds in the winter and busier summer days.

The lakeside restaurant has been a sensation for over two decades, known for its ambiance and activities to keep the youngins occupied like a playground, swimming beach, and of course, the bridge.

The owner, Matt Pierce, said people should not shy away from the restaurant for fear of not finding a spot anymore, only during its peak busy time is there a possibility of a short wait.

Long Bridge now has an upper level patio, in addition to their lower level patio, multiple bar seating areas, indoor seating, and picnic table seating.

Once the second level was approved by the city council, Pierce figured they should jump at the opportunity.

After all the renovations, it can seat around 200 people in the summer. The two small kitchens sometimes struggle to keep up, according to Pierce, who added that usually customers are willing to wait for their wings and margarita while they sit back and enjoy live music and the view of the lake.

"Don't be afraid to come out, we have alleviated a lot of that problem," Pierce said, referring to the previous lack of ample seating to accommodate for the large influx of people during the restaurant's busiest months of June, July and August.

According to him, all of the renovations are complete except for some beautification like landscaping and painting.

They can seat about 140 people year round now, which is huge for the restaurant that had to turn a lot of people away in the winter.

They still have to winterize multiple portions of the patio and the upstairs bar, but Pierce said the genesis of the project was to add all-season seating, which ended up increasing by about 60 to 70.

"It was hindering us to serve to the best of our ability," Pierce explained. He hired an architect to work out the details, and construction was completed in late spring.

In addition to renovations, they added a crispy chicken sandwich to the menu as well as banana chocolate chip cake.

"It's really good. You should try it," Pierce said about the new dessert item.

The wait for food can still be as long as an hour during busy weekends in the summer, but they can only do so much.

They had a small fire back in January when one of the construction workers was torching concrete and ignited some insulation by mistake.

"It was a setback that only lasted about five to six hours," Pierce said. "We had to a lot of concrete footings, and we had to drill down 60 to 80 feet to make sure the structure was sound."

Overall, construction went smoothly and they were able to check off most of their wish list by May of this year.