After a year and a half of development, New Center’s hotly anticipated new dining destination Wilda’s is approaching the finish line. Co-owner Lucy Peters tells Eater that the restaurant and bar is on track to open in late-spring at the corner of Woodward Avenue and East Grand Boulevard.
A lot has changed since Wilda’s first secured its lease inside a former pharmacy and beauty parlor. Peters originally planned to open the restaurant with cousin and Rose’s Fine Foods collaborator Molly Mitchell; however, the pair amicably ended their partnership last year citing different visions. (Mitchell is now opening a new Polish restaurant and bakery called Poppies in West Village.)
Shortly after, Peters struck up a new partnership with Rose’s alum Sopheana Duch and metro Detroit-turned-New York chefs Max and Eli Sussman. Peters knew the Sussman’s through mutual friends and the brothers would of come into Rose’s when they were visiting the city, she says. Thus, when it came time to find a chef for Wilda’s, “I thought of them right away.” Peters described the timing as “like kismet — like the most perfect timing.” As it turned out, the Sussmans had just ended their relationship with a project in Detroit and were still looking for a restaurant to get involved with in the city.
Although the core team has changed, Peters is still honing close to her original vision for Wilda’s (named after her great grandmother) as an affordable, all-day restaurant and bar. “We’re trying to be really family friendly,” she says. “I just don’t think that place exists in Detroit right now.”
The menu will offer a selection of sandwiches, salads, and soups, plus options like wings at the bar. Peters says the restaurant will be full-service, but with a more casual approach where customers check off their orders on aper menus and pass them off to their servers. Peters envisions this format allowing servers to cover a larger section and fits into the partners overall effort to provide living wages to its employees.
When it debuts this spring, Wilda’s will seat roughly 60 customers with 50 in the dining room and 10 at the bar. Peters says she’s drawing inspiration for the interior from her great grandmother’s Michigan farmhouse, where her family has lately uncovered old swatches of old wallpaper and other artifacts from the early 20th Century. “[I’m] looking at her life in the 1930s as a school teacher in the Depression and just trying to bring it into this century,” she says. “We just want to make it like being in someone’s home.”
Wilda’s is on track to open in June, but in the meantime curious diners can keep an eye out for some upcoming pop-ups in March (the dates are still being finalized) at Frame in Hazel Park.