Article and photos by James Mullineaux

The Bay Street Station restaurant opened its doors in late March, 2010. While the restaurant is new, the building at 1313 Bay Street had started out as a fire station in 1929. Customers have also reported it being at one time a bait and tackle shop as well as a video store. In many residents’ memories it was The Nine’s Firehouse Pub. The building had sat unused for a year after Nine’s closed its doors. When Brian Lombard saw the excellent potential for a new restaurant in the location, the Bay Street Station was born.

Brian Lombard, who also owns Batteries Plus in Bay City and Saginaw, hails from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. He came to Saginaw as a sales representative for an aftermarket auto company. When his job was downsized, the entrepreneurial bug bit him. Brian dove into the bar and restaurant business "without even knowing how to pour a drink." He opened the Overtime Bar and Grill on Genesee and Hess which he ran for 14 years. It was near the GM plant and when the plant was busy so was the Overtime Bar and Grill. As the plant slowed down, made cuts, had layoffs, offered buyouts and the like, patronage ebbed as well. Eventually the writing was on the wall and Brian Lombard closed the Overtime Bar and Grill while still retaining the necessary equipment and liquor license.

Having the restaurant and bar equipment as well as the liquor license cleared a major hurdle in starting The Bay Street Station. Lombard also recognized the opportunity the building presented as he "always wanted someplace smaller and nicer, for lack of a better term."

Lombard named it The Bay Street station not only for its history as a fire station, but also because Bay Road turns into Bay Street in the city of Saginaw. Acknowledging it's city location was important to him: "Bay Street Station gives it the integrity it deserves for being a fire station in the city."

The building’s history as a firehouse plays out subtly in The Bay Street Station’s decor. Red hues and accents pay homage to the building’s original intent without being overbearing. The original circular hole in the ceiling and brass pole to slide down have also been preserved. For the look of the interior, Lombard completely credits his wife Kathy.

The ambiance, small size, free wifi, and 11 pm closing time combine to create an attractive alternative to Hamilton Street for those looking for a lower key dining experience.  "Most of our patrons have to get up and go into the office in the morning," he explains.

Signature items on the menu at The Bay Street Station include the Focaccia Club and The Bay Street Dip, and now that summer has started orders of The Heat Wrap have gone up noticeably.

Lombard offers a few pieces of advice to others looking to start a business in the Saginaw area. "Do your homework. You’ve got to believe in it, and you have to have the support of your family. If my wife didn’t agree with this [The Bay Street Station], I wouldn’t have started it. . .[You need] the emotional support of getting a pat on the back when you’re about beat."

Located at 1313 Bay St. in Saginaw, The Bay Street Station can be reached at 989.791.1313 for inquiries about the menu, carry out, and deliveries.

© James Mullineaux, 2010