It's been a year since Nikita Sanches opened the doors of the popular Rock City Eatery in Hamtramck and though he can hardly keep up with demand there and his more recent venture, greasy spoon Campau Tower down the street, he's already talking about expanding.
In the first 12 months of opening, RCE has taken Metro Detroit foodies by surprise, by almost immediately receiving glowing reviews both locally and nationally for its experimental, sometimes daring menu, affordable craft cocktails and laid back punk rock vibe.
In talking with Sanches, it sounds like he's already itching for more. Sanches first wowed fans with his successful venture, Rock City Pies at The Rust Belt Market in Ferndale. Then he competed for a shot to open a restaurant in Detroit, with his all-pie concept submitted to the Hatch Detroit entrepreneurial competition. He lost that contest in the final round in 2012, but he was already poised to keep moving forward with his venture, which he likens to the many small, independent eateries one might find in Brooklyn, where chefs aren't afraid of switching up their menus on nearly a daily basis.
And while the business is attracting everyone from Corktown hipsters, Hamtramck's power players and well-to-do Oakland County suburbanites, Sanches says his restaurant is already bursting at the seams and he needs to find a bigger kitchen to call his own.
"This kitchen is just ridiculous," Sanches told Eater Detroit. "No one in their right mind would do what we're doing here because all we have is 10 burners – that's it. Everything that we make happens on these 10 burners."
So far Sanches has looked elsewhere in Hamtramck, including at Joseph Campau and Caniff, home to shuttered Chinese food restaurant, Golden Hill Chop Suey. That place, a former bank, is just a disaster, he says. And with rents rising rapidly in parts of Detroit, Sanches does not see Rock City moving into the city – at least not for now.
So what else is on the horizon for the coming year? Sanches says he's already scrapped the short-lived Sunday brunches and daytime hours there to accommodate Campau Tower's lunchtime and late-night operations. In place of brunch, he says he's planning a weekly supper club, in which his cooking team would have the liberty to experiment even more so than they already do. Eater Detroit will keep readers posted on upcoming RCE supper club events. In the meantime, enjoy this slideshow from when it all began.
—By Serena Maria Daniels
· Campau Tower Just Reopened Their Doors for Lunch [-ED-]
· Rock City Eatery Opens Today [-ED-]
· Detroit's Most Anticipated Fall Openings [-ED-]