Wilda’s is no longer coming to New Center. The anticipated all-day cafe is now on hold indefinitely, Crain’s reports. The space at the corner of Woodward Avenue and East Grand Boulevard, which was reportedly given up due to a lack of funds, is now being taken over by East African cafe and 2017 Hatch Detroit winner Baobab Fare.
Husband and wife team Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere are both refugees from Burundi who came to Detroit several years ago to escape ethnic persecution in their country. Originally envisioned primarily as an market with a small cafe, Baobab Fare has evolved into a 65-seat restaurant with a small retail section offering African products, hot sauces, spices, coffees, and teas. The restaurant will have table service — something Mamba says is important to helping introduce customers to the style of cuisine. “We want it explained to them what the story is behind the food,” he says.
The restaurant will offer both breakfast and lunch. In the mornings, diners can expect options like flat bread, beef stew, omelets, eggs, and East African teas and coffees. Lunch service will feature options like coconut rice, goat, chicken and skewered meats, as well as plantains, fried sweet potatoes, and cassava. Mamba notes that the restaurant will serve plenty of vegan options. “This is a place where everyone can feel like they’re having something to eat,” he says.
Baobab Fare finalized its lease with Midtown Detroit, Inc. on Thursday and is working with architecture firm Rossetti on the design for the space. “We wanted to have an African design with a Detroit vibe,” Mamba says. He estimates that the restaurant will open by November at 6568 Woodward Ave.
Since winning the Hatch competition last summer, Baobab Fare has been busy hosting pop-up dinners throughout Detroit. The owners have also launched a brand of Burundian coffee in partnership with Germack Coffee Roasting Co. Eater has reached out for more details. Stay tuned.
Update, June 8, 1:15 p.m.: This story has been updated with comments from Hamissi Mamba.
• East African Restaurant and Market Wins $50K Prize in Hatch Detroit Contest [ED]
• Hatch Detroit Winner Baobab Fare Takes Over Wilda’s Space in New Center [Crain’s]
• 2017 Hatch Detroit Competition Reveals Top Four Finalists [ED]
• Wilda’s Brings All-Day Comfort Food to New Center in June [ED]