It wasn't just this year's potential Hatch Detroit winners that caught our attention at last night's semi-finalist reveal.
Past winners and former entrants who didn't quite make the cut were on hand to show the full extent of the grant contest turned small-business incubator's effects on the city's business scene, and all had some interesting contest and opening-related tidbits to share. Eater Detroit caught up with the folks behind La Feria Spanish Tapas in Midtown, the 2012 Hatch Detroit Winner, and Rock City Eatery, a 2012 finalist in Hamtramck, for hints on when their business visions will come to opening reality. (Spoiler: It's soon for both.)
Elias Khalil, the owner of La Feria, had some suggestions for this year's ten semi-finalists on how to make it all the way to the top spot in the contest.
"You have to have a kind of tunnel vision," Khalil said, laughing. The La Feria team's dedication to spreading the word last year made an impression on Hatch Detroit co-founder Ted Balowski.
"I saw those guys everywhere last year," Balowski said. "Every night, they were somewhere else in the city, meeting people, spreading the word, sharing stories and building up community support."
That support has continued as the La Feria storefront on Cass Ave. in Midtown moves steadily along toward a final completion date.
"You reach a point in all this construction and permits where it gets kind of banal," Khalil said. "We're almost to the end — which is really a beginning, in a way." La Feria has plans to open sometime in the fall, with estimates for mid to late September at the earliest.
Nikita Santches, the creator of Rock City Pies and its larger successor, Rock City Eatery, offered some tips to their fellow Hamtramck restauranteurs, the 2013 semi-finalists HenriettaHaus Coffee Roasters, and discussed the delay in the eagerly anticipated Rock City opening.
A city-based grant that originally encouraged Santches to open in Hamtramck has been delayed as the small community deals with troubling financial problems, leaving the piemaker to turn to other means of financial support — Indie GoGo and his family and friends, among other sources — to go the final distance to the buildout and opening.
The pie, beer and more emporium may be delayed, but Santches promised the wait wouldn't be long. He hope to clear the final development and permit hurdles in time for an early fall opening.
· All La Feria Coverage on Eater Detroit
· Sixty Percent of Hatch Finalists Have Food on the Brain [-ED-]
· Hatch Detroit 2012 finalist Rock City Pies will Open This Summer [ModelD]