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Texas-Style Barbecue Restaurant Yardbird Smoked Meats Changes Name

Plus, the Little Caesar’s mothership gains pizza-shaped windows

J-Bird Smoked Meats in Keego Harbor.
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Can’t get enough Detroit restaurant intel? The EaterWire is your guide to all the food industry news hits you may have missed.

December 21

CH-CH-CHANGES — Three-year-old Keego Harbor barbecue restaurant Yardbird Smoked Meats has switched its name to J-Bird Smoked Meats. The “J” refers to chef/owner Jeremy Grandon, whose operated various restaurants in the space for 12-years. [EaterWire]

NEWS — Now that the QLine construction is no longer gumming up traffic on Woodward Avenue, The Whitney is anticipating a 25 percent year-over-year increase in revenue in 2017. [Crain’s]

THE CHAINS — Construction crews at the Little Caesar’s Global Headquarters began installing those much-anticipated 14-foot-tall pizza slice-shaped windows this week. The building is expected to be completed next summer. [Crain’s]

NEWS — Gourmet Food Center’s galaxy of locations around metro Detroit are apparently renowned for their chitlins. Their motto is: “We clean the sh*t out of chitlins!” [Neighborhoods]

POP-UPS — The people behind Woodward Avenue Brewers have introduced a new temporary cocktail bar pop-up called Cvrses. [Hip in Detroit]


December 15

EXPANSIONS — Ferndale-based butcher shop Farm Field Table has acquired an additional 3,000-square-feet of space that will roughly double its footprint in the new year. The shop specializes in locally-sourced heritage breed meats. Cuts are supplied to numerous restaurants around the area including Takoi, Voyager, and Joebar. Additionally, the company recently launched a new online shop. [EaterWire]

COMING ATTRACTIONS — A new Polish eatery called Polka Restaurant is heading to Troy. The restaurant is expected to throw open its doors on January 10 at 2908 E. Maple Rd. [EaterWire]

DELIVERYWIRE — Hot off its recent launch in Detroit, UberEats has expanded to Grand Rapids. As of today the company also offers delivery from 80 McDonald’s locations in Southeast Michigan. Customers can use the coupon code MICHIGANMCDS now through December 31 to get $5 off their first McDonald’s delivery order. [EaterWire]

COMING ATTRACTIONS — An old-school bar in Milwaukee Junction — the neighborhood just south of New Center and the North End — called the Kiesling is getting a new lease on life. Owner Carlo Liburdi purchased the 1,200-square-foot bar in 2015 our of foreclosure action and has been painstakingly working to restore the space. The Kiesling (449 E. Milwaukee Ave.) will feature classic cocktails, eight craft beers on tap, and grilled cheeses. Its expected to open in January. [Metro Times]

COMING ATTRACTIONS — A new Italian restaurant and wine bar D’Marcos is expected to open in the first quarter of 2018. The eatery is taking over the former Rojo space at 401 N. Main St. [Crain’s]

WEEK IN REVIEWS — The food at Kid Rock’s Made in Detroit restaurant is apparently very salty, but Metro Times critic Tom Perkins concedes that it’s not so bad. The biggest crime is the prices: “our group of five diners tallied a $375 bill. A good chunk of that went to the cocktails and drafts, the latter of which run $6.75 for domestic and $11 for craft. That comes out to $75 per person, which is up there with what you'll pay at most of Detroit's best high-end restaurants.” [Metro Times]

BEER HERE — Vice series Beerland heads to Detroit in an upcoming episode airing nationwide at 10 p.m. In the episode host Meg Gill meets Black Bottom Brewing Company’s Sean and Adrian Murphy and visits One Eyed Betty’s. [EaterWire]

DEALFEED — Customers who bring a box of unopened cereal to Gather in Eastern Market can now receive a $5 burger on Wednesdays. The cereal will be donated to kids in need. [EaterWire]

EXPANSIONS — Asian Corned Beef is expanding to 12300 Wo0dward Ave. in Highland Park. [Metro Times]

IDK — Selden Standard and HopCat Royal Oak are metro Detroit’s most visited restaurant and bar according to ride service Lyft. [EaterWire]

COMING ATTRACTIONS — Dino’s Cookie Dough Bar is slated to replace Krazy Greek Restaurant in downtown Rochester. The new raw edible cookie dough bar is expected to debut in March. [Crain’s]

COMING ATTRACTIONS — The owner of Nikki’s Ginger Tea is aiming to open a brick-and-mortar shop called Ginger Spell Café. [Neighborhoods]

ANN ARBOR — Standard Bistro & Larder, a new restaurant from James Beard-award winning chef Alex Young, is slated to arrive in mid-January. The restaurant will showcase classic French cooking. [Metro Times]


November 20

SWITCHEROOS — Grosse Pointe Woods’ Andiamo restaurant has broken off from the metro Detroit restaurant group and will transform into Trattoria Serventi this week. Located at 20930 Mack Ave., the restaurant will be closed on Monday and Tuesday and will relaunch on Wednesday with a variety of Italian dishes. [Detroit News]

COMING ATTRACTIONS — File this aways as a future submission for A Name of Groans: The man behind Bread Basket Deli and Al’s Famous Deli is planning to open Doggiestyle, a Waterford hot dog restaurant with a decidedly delicious sounding menu and a rather unappetizing name. [Metro Times]

NEWS — Organic food delivery service, Door to Door Organics closed down its online shop after 20 years of business. [Detroit News]

OPENINGS — A new olive oil store called Mie Radici recently opened at the Laurel Park Place mall in Livonia. [Crain’s]

EATER TRACKING — Eve Aronoff, the chef behind Ann Arbor’s Cuban burger restaurant Frita Batidos, still isn’t revealing the location of the forthcoming Detroit Frita. The restaurant is estimated to open at the end of May. [All About Ann Arbor]

COMING ATTRACTIONS — Detroit fragrance company Sfumato is opening a brick-and-mortar shop at 3980 Second Ave. in Midtown. The location will feature a cocktail bar called Castalia with scented drinks. Unfortunately, the bar will only offer cocktails during ticketed events for the time being. [Metro Times]


November 13

OPENINGS — A new burger restaurant called California Burgerz has opened its doors at 12045 Conant Ave. in Hamtramck. Founded by Hani Omasan, the restaurant offers a brief menu with options like the Gorilla Burger — an Angus patty paired with pickles, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and American cheese on a pretzel bun. The spot also serves shakes and hand-cut fries. [Metro Times]

BOOZE NEWS — Detroit City Distillery is hosting its third annual Ginsmith Competition tonight at 6 p.m. Last year’s winner Roger James Fruin of the Detroit Optimist Society will be the host for the evening as he releases his new designer spirit — the Belle River Gin. Prominent Detroit bartenders including Dorothy Elizabeth (bartender at large), Brent Foster (Standby), Robyn Cleveland (Last Word), Joe M. Schubert (La Dolce Vita), and Tara Jagodzinski (Peterboro) are entering this year’s competition for the chance to make their own gin recipe. [EaterWire]

EXPANSIONS — Jointly-owned ventures Bigalora Wood-Fired Cucina and Arbor Brewing Co. are plotting a takeover of the 75-year-old Box Bar in Plymouth. However, a liquor license exemption could stand in the way. [Hometown Life]

DEVELOPMENTS — Delray’s iconic Hungarian watering hole Kovacs Bar was demolished on November 6 to make way for the Gordie Howe International Bridge. The bar closed in 2012 and portions of the historic tavern were recently sold including the original bar, which was purchased by the Detroit Optimist Society’s Dave Kwiatkowski. [Freep]

POP-UPS — The French Cow Crêpes is now offering sweet and savory crêpes at Midtown’s independent movie theater Cinema Detroit every Wednesday starting at 6:30 p.m. [EaterWire]


November 6

DOH CHRONICLES — The Wayne County health department has confirmed yet another case of Hepatitis A at a restaurant in Grosse Pointe Woods. Authorities say an employee at the Champs Rotisserie and Spirits at 20515 Mack Ave. has contracted the virus. Customers who ate or drank at the restaurant between October 10 and October 30 may have been exposed and should contact their physician for evaluation and a possible vaccination. The case is illustrative of an overall surge in Hepatitis A cases in Southeast Michigan over the past year. The state of Michigan recently opened an emergency center to track the outbreak that has impacted 486 people so far and resulted in 19 deaths. In the past two months multiple cases have been identified at restaurants in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. Champs has since been cleared by the health department. [Detroit News/MLive]

FOOD MEDIA — In his latest essay, Revolver co-founder, cook, and writer Tunde Wey reflects on the stark whiteness of Detroit’s growing restaurant scene in his latest essay, The Whitewashing of Detroit's Culinary Scene. “Downtown Detroit’s revival was never reflective of the city,” he writes. “It was designed for a segment of like-minded people indulging self-serving interests, all the while performing a drama of progress that reinforced racial and classist hierarchies.” The redevelopment that largely began around 2013, he contends, was by-design exclusionary to anyone who wasn’t white. “It was a beautiful time, a beautiful place — but only if you were white and college-educated, or simply white, or just proximate to the right white people, some of whom were turning tragedy into restaurants.” [City Lab]

NEWS — Controversy over Detroit’s first-ever Black Restaurant Week helped drive new customers and exposure to the participating restaurants, according to recent report. During the week of the event, “We had more white and customers of other ethnicities than anything else,” says Maxcel Hardy, owner of River Bistro in Rosedale Park. [Next City]

NOVELTY FOODS — Ale Mary’s Beer Hall in Royal Oak recently revealed a new novelty item that will probably make cardiologists throw their hands up in despair. The “Fat Dan” is a burger with a fried macaroni and cheese bun, beer cheese, and jalapeños. [Daily Detroit]

October 30

NEWS — Beau Bien Fine Foods, Bon Bon Bon, El Asador Steakhouse, Lush Yummies Pie Co., Taqueria El Nacimiento, Nikki’s Ginger Tea, and The Food Exchange all received $10,000 awards from NEIdeas to upgrade and expand their businesses. [Crain’s]

NEWS — Four restaurants received grant money in the latest round of Motor City Match, a city program that provides small businesses with funding and support. Winners included chicken and waffles mainstay New Center Eatery, D&D Cuisine on the Avenue of Fashion, East Jefferson startup Urban Flavors, and forthcoming East English Village eatery Detroit Pepper Company. A total of 13 companies shared $500,000 in award money. [EaterWire]

WINE — West Village wine oasis Brix Detroit is launching its Village Wino Wine Club on November 1. The celebration hosted from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. will feature free samples of select varietals. Membership is free but those who sign up will receive 15 percent off all retail bottle purchases as well as invites to special events and private tastings. Each month the club will select a new wine to feature and have a sommelier onsite to offer education during the tasting. [EaterWire]

AWARDS SEASON — The Detroit Beer Experiment handed out its first-ever James Beer Award on Saturday evening following the Detroit Fall Beer Festival at Eastern Market. Black Bottom Brewing Co. and Batch Brewing Company’s double IPA — the “Loopyalynn’s Sanity Elixir” — claimed the top prize. Black Bottom Brewing Co. is expected to open in an as-of-yet-undermined space with Le Petit Zinc in Corktown.

IDK — A celebrity gossip site is reporting that Downriver Armenian restaurant Kardashian Bakery & Grill is in a fight with the Kardashian sisters over a trademark filing. The famous family allegedly opposes the trademark because they believe the restaurant owners are trying to make money off their name. The owners of Kardashian Bakery & Grill have, in fact, claimed to be distant relatives of the Keeping Up With the Kardashians family. [The Blast/News Herald]

BEER HERE — There were plenty of interesting brews on tap at the Detroit Fall Beer Festival over the weekend. Here are a few different rankings to check out. [Detroit News/Freep]

CAFFEINE NATION — Are there too many coffee shops heading to Capitol Park? Josh Greenwood of Urban Bean Co. believes the small section of downtown may be overcrowded with cafes.


October 16

VITAL UPDATES — Chef Thomas Lents’ much-anticipated Chef’s Table experience launched on October 15 at the Detroit Foundation Hotel. The menu — served in a 12-seat communal dining space within the hotel — will feature between eight and 12 seasonally-changing courses accompanied by wine pairings. Diners can expect dishes such as sweet corn with lemon verbena and ossetra caviar, razor clams with charred leeks and smoked potato, and whole roasted turbot with langoustine and coral sauce. Tickets are $175 per person plus $95 for wine pairings and can be purchased from Tock. [EaterWire]

NEWS — Several Food Lab Detroit members participated in a recent study exploring how women of color impact Detroit’s economy and revitalization. Some of the women highlighted in the study included Kiki Louya of The Farmer’s Hand, Darlene Alston of Just a Bit Eclectic, and Erika and Kirsten Boyd of Detroit Vegan Soul. [EaterWire]

CHARITYWIRE — Mabel Gray’s chef James Rigato — a noted dog lover — is organizing a fundraiser for Detroit Dog Rescue. From November 26 through December 2 diners at 24 area restaurants — Chartreuses Kitchen & Cocktails, Supino Pizzeria, Takoi, Grey Ghost, and more — can feast on fancy hot dogs with proceeds from the tube meat benefiting the non-profit. [EaterWire]

MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS — McClure’s Pickles purchased its Detroit-Hamtramck area processing plant at 8201 St. Aubin St. The acquisition will allow the company to potentially expand its facility. [Crain’s]

FOOD MEDIA — In a rumination on the state of Thai food in the U.S. one Thai-American cookbook author Leela Punyaratabandhu recalled that one of worst pad thai experiences she’s ever had was at a restaurant in Detroit:

The Thai waitress warned her not to eat it, but Ms. Leela says she wanted to experiment. “It was really, really bad,” she recalled. “The server was looking at me with a puppy face that said, ‘Sorry’ and ‘I told you so.’”

Fortunately for the offending restaurant, the name was not disclosed. [NYT]

CHARITYWIRE — The Stage Deli, founded in Oak Park, is marking its 55th Anniversary in West Bloomfield next month with 55-cent corned beef sandwiches during dinner service (5 p.m. to 9 p.m.) on Monday, November 13. All net profits from November 13 through November 17 will also be donated to nonprofit organizations Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Yad Ezra. The Stage Deli owners hope to generate at least $5,000 for each of the groups, according to a representative for the restaurant. [EaterWire]


October 9

BOOZE NEWS Gold Cash Gold recently brought on bartender Marlowe Johnson to head its beverage program and with that he is introducing his vast knowledge of tea to the Corktown spot’s happy hour in what he calls “High Tea.” Drawing from the longstanding, late traditional tea time in English society, Johnson and Keenan Plant are featuring several cocktails that incorporate fine teas and light snacks.

On the menu, a London dry gin with jasmine, green tea, lime and absinthe rinse; vodka, Pal Mu Tan white tea, cantaloupe, lemon and dried chili tincture; and to eat, an assortment of house-made bread and butters, smoked white fish spread with pickles and sourdough and other small bites. High Tea launched earlier this month and is served 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays. [EaterWire]

OPENINGS — Downtown arcade bar Ready Player One is calling for "beta testers" for invite-only soft openings this weekend. If all goes well, co-owner Wael Gharbie says a grand opening is expected to take place next week. The new gaming spot, situated in the Globe Tobacco Building, features about 40 vintage game machines, a full kitchen and bar. Those interested in attending a soft opening are asked to send an email to RPOinvite@gmail.com. [EaterWire/Facebook]

EXPANSIONS — Pontiac pop-up Menagerie will go full-time brick and mortar as the Menagerie Lounge after receiving funding from Flagstar Bank, owners James and April Forbes announced last week. The lounge will feature a Southern-inspired menu and craft cocktails and will be open daily for lunch and dinner, plus brunch on Sundays. The spot will also serve as a venue for local entertainers.

The pop-up is currently held after-hours at the Lafayette Market, according to Crain's, but after receiving $65,000 in loan and grant funding as part of Flagstar's economic development intiative for Pontiac, the lounge will move to the Lafayette Grande building at 155 N. Saginaw Street. The new 4,000-square-foot space will seat 120 and employ about 25 people. [EaterWire/Crain’s]

THE CHAINS Fans of McDonald’s throwback Szechuan sauce were disappointed over the weekend when they were unable to procure the super limited-edition condiment when the chain released a tiny supply at a small number of stores nationwide. At the Golden Arches in Midtown, for example, customers lined up outside for a chance to score a packet of the stuff, which quickly ran out.

For folks who couldn’t snag any of the coveted sauce, McDonald’s has announced a larger quantity will be released this winter and will be available at nearby stores. Originally released in 1998 in conjunction with Disney’s Mulan, the spicy sauce more recently achieved cult status when referenced in an episode of “Rick and Morty.” [Freep]


September 25

SWITCHEROOS — Spanish tapas restaurant La Dulce is in the process of transitioning to an upscale Mexican menu. The changeover is something co-owner Luis Negrete has been considering for quite some time; however, the multiple earthquakes that recently shook Mexico City and southern Mexico, where many members of Negretes’ family live, have inspired him to commit to the transformation this fall.

Beginning on Thursday the restaurant will roll out new dishes from different regions of the country such as Sinaloan-style ceviche and tacos served with handmade corn tortillas. Last Wednesday, the restaurant committed to proceeds from certain menu items from September 21 through September 24 to disaster relief in Mexico and the restaurant intends to extend that fundraising commitment to several cocktails on the menu. Changes to the menu will likely be permanent. [Freep]

Our hearts are with Mexico. As you have most likely heard, several states were struck by massive earthquakes two times...

Posted by La Dulce on Wednesday, September 20, 2017

CRIMEWIRE — The Oakland County Health Division is warning restaurant owners and managers of an apparent food service inspection phone scam. The fraudulent callers are allegedly claiming to be health inspectors and requesting pre-payment for inspections. “Pre-payment is not required for restaurant inspections. If you are unsure the caller is a Health Division employee, hang up and call us at 248-858-1312,” Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County, says in a release. “If you receive a suspicious or fraudulent call, please alert the Oakland County Sheriff's Office or local police department immediately.” [MLive]

THE CHAINS — A new Chick-Fil-A outpost is heading to the Detroit Medical Center at 3990 John R St. in Detroit. According to a tipster the restaurant is taking over the Quiznos space in the building and the construction wraps are up. [EaterWire]

EXPANSIONS — French restaurant Marais in Grosse Pointe is adding a “gourmet market to its space, but never fear, the retaurant and bar will continue to operate. [Facebook]

We are so excited for our gourmet market, in the meantime, join us in the cafe for breakfast & dinner! #newlook #newdo #marketing #itsgettinghotinhere

Posted by Marais on Thursday, September 21, 2017

EXPANSIONS — Midtown’s Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Cheez! outpost is getting some new menu items including sliders, burgers, and a seasonal bratwurst from Dearborn Sausage. Over the summer, the restaurant also added quesadillas and nachos to the menu. [EaterWire]

SPORTS — In addition to the Lions’s major upset at Ford Field on Sunday, a minor fire broke out in a food service container near the players locker rooms at the end of the game. [CBS Sports]

EVENTSWIRE — An exhibition on the evolution and history of chocolate is coming to the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills on January 7, 2018. The traveling exhibit was developed by The Field Museum in Chicago and will feature tastings of Mayan-style chocolate during the week of Thanksgiving and a bus tour to Mindo Chocolate in Dexter. [DBiz]


September 19

ANN ARBOR — Mark’s Carts in Ann Arbor will close permanently at the end of October. Owner Mark Hodesh says maintaining the popular seasonal food cart park as he nears retirement required too much work. He plans to use the space as overflow for the neighboring Bill’s Beer Garden and as a venue for displaying products from Downtown Home & Garden. Hodesh also says he’s exploring options to create a more permanent kitchen area to accompany Bill’s. [WEMU/MLive]

LABOR — Hired Knives, a Detroit-based food and beverage industry job site/app, is expanding its services to included temporary, on-demand staffing — Hired Knives OnDemand — and head hunting services called Hired Knives Select. The temporary staffing feature aims to help fill permanent or temporary vacancies with qualified, pre-screened restaurant employees. The cost is $23/hour with an additional $10 service fee for staff needed within 48 hours and OnDemand workers are also available for private events. [EaterWire]

OPENINGS — For those who are dying to try Corktown’s new stunner Lady of the House, the restaurant officially opens to the public on Wednesday, September 20. For reservations call 313-818-0218 or visit reserve.com. [EaterWire]

DELIVERYWIRE — Homegrown delivery service Flash Delivery is plotting an expansion by adding 10 new restaurants serving Ferndale and Northwest Detroit (The University District, Palmer Woods, and Sherwood Forest) in October. The company currently offers service to downtown Detroit with 30 restaurants in its network. [Detroit News]

OPENINGS — A new restaurant and bar called The Fed recently debuted in an old bank building at 15 S. Main St. in downtown Clarkston. The restaurant helmed by former Zingerman’s Roadhouse chef chef Justin Dalenberg features dishes like Double Double burgers, Colorado steak, Red Snapper ceviche, sushi, and tacos. [EaterWire]

COMING ATTRACTIONS — Hamtramck’s Outer Limits Lounge is about to make a comeback as a bar and record label. A grand opening celebration is scheduled for November 4. [Metro Times]

FOOD TV — Mario Batali has officially given up his Crocs for Yeezys and is also dropping some new details about the mysterious TV show In the Pinks With Mario Batali that he shot earlier this summer in Northern Michigan. The show apparently involves Batali sitting on pink Adirondack chairs with guests, looking out at Lake Michigan and telling stories. The chef told Recode, “So maybe when I talk about the 673 shipwrecks in Lake Michigan, we actually dive into the water, animated as characters, and go find out the how, the where, and the why these ships were wrecked in the first place.” [Eater/Recode]

VITAL UPDATES — Ferndale restaurant Como’s recently had its food service license suspended for health code violations. It’s the second time the trouble restaurant has had the license revoked in the past year. Now, the restaurant owners have an appeal hearing with Oakland County scheduled for 9 a.m. on September 20, which will determine whether the restaurant will be allowed to continue operating. [Oakland County 115]

BOOZE NEWS — After 36 years of business, Royal Oak’s vegan and vegetarian mainstay Inn Season Cafe now has a liquor license. The menu, which launched last month, offers local beers as well as vegan wines and sakes selected by Elie Wine Co.’s Elie Boudt that employ organic and/or biodynamic ingredients. [EaterWire]

AWARDS SEASON — Chef George Azar from under construction pop up-to-permanent restaurant Flowers of Vietnam was recently named to Zagat’s 30 Under 30 list. [Zagat]

NEWS — Detroit Public Schools new superintendent Nikolai Vitti reportedly threw a fit after discovering that the district had budgeted $340,000 for a special low-fat, low-sodium, whole wheat Domino’s pizza called a “smart slice.” Vitti told an aide, “I love the explanation on why we need a Domino’s contract because it’s wholesale, right?” He said: “To reduce the price? And then everything else we do we have 700 vendors?! We decided to get it right for pizza but we didn’t get it right for toilet paper?” [Chalk Beat]

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