The Motor City has been surrounded by a cloud of smoke, so to speak, for a while it seems. Detroit has repeatedly topped the Forbes list of “The 10 Most Dangerous U.S. Cities” (four years in a row at No. 1, to be exact) due to its gang-related crime. But according to The Wall Street Journal, which penned an “Insider’s Guide to Detroit” just a few days ago, the city is becoming more attractive to young creative professionals. The piece also tips its hat to Detroit’s emerging dining scene, with more than a dozen recent restaurant openings.
Detroit’s resurgence, supported by the above, is just a glimpse of why the Foodable team chose Detroit as our newest city-level blog, bringing us to a total of 18 U.S. cities.
Downtown Detroit's Resurgence
Earlier this year, we were fortunate to spend some time in downtown Detroit to dig deeper into this so-called resurgence. What we found were lifelong locals who told us stories of the changing neighborhood, and how local businesses, with an emphasis on talented chefs and restaurants popping up in the area, are providing a boost to the local community. Detroit has always had good food in its surrounding suburbs (just look at Northville), but chefs are reviving downtown with new energy.
“The food business is bringing the city back,” said one Detroit local. Not only have these establishments given a reason for people to visit the neighborhood (and stick around), but it also opens up many job opportunities.
Meet Some of Downtown Detroit’s Restaurateurs
Brooklyn Street Local: Co-owned by couple Jason Yates and Deveri Gifford, Brooklyn Street Local has been open for 3 years now. Located in the space that was once the locally famous Max’s Deli, BSL is big on local ingredients — and Detroit’s accessibility to local produce is definitely a bonus. But one thing that Gifford mentioned that struck a chord with us was her emphasis on community as a big factor for choosing Detroit as the restaurant’s location.
Wright & Co.: Chef/Owner Marc Djozlija never considered Detroit in his dreams of opening a restaurant. Djozlija grew up in the Detroit area, but moved to New York after graduating high school to attend the Culinary Institute of America. From there, it was off to Las Vegas, where Djozlija worked under the tutelage of Wolfgang Puck for almost 20 years. That is, until Wolfgang asked Djozlija if he’d ever be interested in opening a restaurant in Detroit. “I always hoped that I’d find a place where I could springboard off my current job to open my own restaurant,” said Djozlija. “And I never thought it was going to be Detroit originally. But when I got back here, I met a lot of really great people doing a lot of really cool things, and there were some really good opportunities. And that’s how this restaurant came into fruition.”
Gold Cash Gold: Helmed by Chef/Owner Josh Stockton, who comes from a culinary background of high-end hotels in Las Vegas, Gold Cash Gold — Stockton’s first fully owned venture — opened in late 2014. But already, Stockton has seen a drastic change in the Las Vegas landscape versus Detroit’s. For one, competition is handled differently.
“Everybody wants everyone to succeed. It’s not like in Las Vegas, where you want to be number one, and you don’t just want to be number one and them to be number two — you want to be number one and you want them to fall off the face of the Earth,” says Stockton. “Here, everybody just wants everyone to succeed because you need more places opening here. You need more good things to happen.”
A once-bankrupt city described as dark and negative, Detroit’s recent boom has a lot of similarities to the art of dining: hopeful and opportunistic, passionate and community-focused. And above all, it brings people — and ideas — together.
Check out Foodable’s Detroit blog here.