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Wright & Company Founders Plot Sushi Concept in Detroit

Former Townhouse sushi chef Rob Lee is collaborating on the project

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cafe 78
Rob Lee will be popping up with sushi at Cafe 78 beginning next Tuesday, August 16.
Michelle and Chris Gerard
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

In case you weren’t entirely convinced that sushi is the new trend in Detroit, here’s further evidence: The Detroit Optimist Society restaurant group founders Dave Kwiatkowski and chef Marc Djozlija are collaborating on a new dining concept with former Townhouse sushi chef Rob Lee. SuperHappySushi will debut as a pop-up starting August 16 at Detroit Optimist’s MOCAD-based cafe and bar Cafe 78.

Kwiatkowski tells Eater he and Djozlija have been exploring the idea of opening a sushi restaurant in the city for some time and at one point were in talks to work with Mike Han, founder of forthcoming Corktown eatery Itadaku Sushi. "The only place that I was going in Detroit [for sushi] was to Townhouse or I'd go to Noble Fish," he says. Eventually, he and Djozlija agreed, "We just need a really talented sushi chef. Let's find somebody."

Kwiatkowski, who also is owner of The Sugar House and a partner in The Peterboro, notes that he’d admired chef Lee’s work during his time at Townhouse and stumbled upon his sushi pop-up during a recent event at The Keep. From there the group went forward, hashing out a plan for a full brick-and-mortar restaurant.

The owner declined to disclose the location of the project but confirms that Detroit Optimist has a letter of intent for a space. Exactly what form the sushi restaurant will take is still up in the air. The 2,400-square-foot restaurant will have a 1,200-square-foot kitchen. The large kitchen, Kwiatkowski says, "should allow him a lot of maneuverability and the restaurant will be relatively small."

While Detroit Optimist works out the details of the new development, Lee will be popping up every Tuesday with sushi and discounted cocktails sponsored by liquor companies. If the pop-ups go well and Lee is comfortable in the bar, Cafe 78 may feature the SuperHappySushi daily until the restaurant buildout is complete (probably in mid-2017).

While the menu for next week’s pop-up isn’t yet finalized, Kwiatkowski offered a sneak preview of Lee’s a la carte dishes which include fresh avocado nigiri, yellowtail sashimi, tuna poke, spicy tuna rolls served with Better Made Chips, and more. No reservations are required to attend.

• SuperHappySushi Pop-Up [Facebook]

• All Coming Attractions Coverage [ED]