It’s been a rollercoaster ride of a year in Detroit. There were, of course, the usual openings (far too many to keep track of) and some sad closures (RIP La Rondinella). But 2017 managed to set itself apart with twists of unexpected breaking news ranging from the mounting number of serious health code violations at Como’s to severe damage to the UFO Factory in Corktown.
All the while, the city’s dining scene felt like it was turning a new chapter with a lineup of affordable restaurants diverting away from the small plates and New American themes of the past few years. What’s in store for 2018, one can only guess. From arcade bars to hip hop spaghetti pop-ups, here were the ten most popular news stories of 2017 on Eater Detroit.
#1 Pedal Pubs Hit the Water
Take a popular cycling booze tour model, put it on the water, and voilà! You’ve got a recipe for an extremely popular new metro Detroit water sport. In January, Detroit Cycle Boat announced plans to launch several pedal-powered watercrafts on the Detroit River. They were quickly overwhelmed with interest.
#2 Detroit Restaurants Join ‘A Day Without Immigrants’
It was a tumultuous year for politics in the United States and those sentiments often overflowed into the world of food. In reaction to President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration policies, many restaurant workers went on strike across the country — and in Detroit — on February 16 to demonstrate how immigrants impact economy. A subsequent demonstration was held on May 1.
#3 Detroiters Gives Away Free Beer
Comedy Central’s Detroiters knows exactly how to please a crowd: Give them free beer. As a promotion for the series’ premiere in February, the show teamed up 20 local bars to hand out free beers.
#4 Kid Rock Gets Into the Restaurant Business
While he does not appear to be running for public office, Robert Ritchie (aka Kid Rock) did bestow his stage name on a Little Caesars Arena restaurant in 2017. Kid Rock’s Made in Detroit arrived in Midtown in September and, much like his music, received mixed reviews.
#5 Here Comes The Apparatus Room
With its Michelin pedigreed chef Thomas Lents and stunning design, Detroit’s Hottest New Restaurant turned heads over and over again in 2017. It was, however, Eater photographers Chris and Michelle Gerard’s first-look photo shoot that earned the most eyes. Sky-high ceilings, subway tile, and leather seats for the win.
#6 Dive Into Wyandotte’s Restaurant Scene
The Downriver city of Wyandotte received several new restaurants and outposts of popular Detroit establishments in 2017 including Dangerously Delicious Pies and Bobcat Bonnie’s. In this story, Eater Detroit contributor Lexi Trimpe investigated the “spillover” affect Detroit might be having on a nearby suburban community. Dangerously Delicious Pies has since closed its doors permanently. Bobcat Bonnie’s briefly closed but managed to reopen ahead of the new year.
#7 The Arcade Bar Invasion
While pop-up arcades have made the rounds for several years in Detroit, the announcement of Ready Player One had gamers across the city amped for permanent arcade bar. While it was not destined to be the first in city limits — that distinction goes to Pop + Offworld — Ready Player One was certainly the buzziest of the downtown arcade bar openings. The wave of interest also appears to have gotten the attention of the original Barcade brand. The company is bringing retro games and drinks to Midtown in 2018.
#8 Eminem Brings Mom’s Spaghetti to Downtown Detroit
In a nod to one of his most famous songs, Eminem delivered a surprise, over-the-top restaurant pop-up for the books in mid-December. The Mom’s Spaghetti pop-up teamed up with metro Detroit restaurant group Union Joints to bring classic spaghetti and meatballs and spaghetti sandwiches to the masses as a promotion for the artist’s new album, Revival. Fans went nuts.
#9 A Popular Restaurant Gets a New Name
It was a strange year for one lauded Corktown restaurant. Just days after landing on the James Beard Awards semifinalists list, Katoi was gutted by a suspicious fire in February. The blaze closed the restaurant for several months. But a few weeks before reopening, the Metro Times released an article critiquing the restaurant’s use of the Thai term kathoey, a word viewed by some as a slur towards transgender individuals. In response, the restaurant changed its name to Takoi.
#10 Kruse and Muer Expands
In May, metro Detroit restaurant group Kruse & Muer confirmed its plans to expand to Royal Oak. The company took over the former Vinsetta Grill and quickly commenced renovating the space. Diners took notice. The location debuted in August as Kruse & Muer on Woodward.
• All Year in Eater Coverage [ED]