Members of the restaurant community in one of Detroit’s best dining neighborhoods are joining forces to introduce a new style of restaurant week this fall. The first-ever Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week is set to launch next month from October 5 through October 14 featuring roughly 20 of the area’s Latin American restaurants.
Juan Carlos Dueweke-Perez is one of 12 volunteer organizers who helped develop Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week. Dueweke-Perez, who is a public relations rep for several businesses in the area, says he and a group of friends — Juan Romo Jr., Esteban Perez, and Monica Echeverri Casarez — began meeting regularly a little over two years ago with the goal of developing a collaborative strategy to educate Detroiters about Southwest Detroit. While many people in the area often refer to Southwest Detroit as Mexicantown, the moniker only refers to a fraction of the Latin American community in the area. “There is more than just than Mexican food,” he says. “There’s a whole bunch that people don’t really talk about.”
In its first year, Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week will focus on Latin American cuisine and culture during National Hispanic Heritage Month. Participating restaurants and business include spots like Venezuelan restaurant El Rey de la Arepas, Guatemalan spot Pollo Chapin, Mexican food counter and butcher shop Carniceria Guadalajara, and Dominican restaurant El Caribeño. Restaurant weeks typically feature discounts on meals, but this one will be a bit different. “The majority of restaurants in Southwest Detroit are already very affordable,” Dueweke-Perez notes. Each restaurant will feature a menu showcasing traditional and affordable meal options that are already on their respective menus throughout the week.
Dueweke-Perez says that the restaurant week will be relatively small this year. The organizers just recently received sponsorship from the Southwest Detroit Business Association to help pilot the series. The organizers hope to expand the scope next year. Dueweke-Perez notes that the overall goal is to use the website to create an organized and inclusive guide to Southwest Detroit where visitors can search for businesses by what they serve. Listings on the site, which is still being updated, are currently organized by the style of cuisine such as “Mexican,” “Honduran,” and “Tex-Mex.”
Beyond simply driving traffic to restaurants, Dueweke-Perez says that the restaurant week is also about growing stronger connections within the business community. “It was about getting to know one another and getting to know how we impact one another and how we can help each other grow,” he says.
Correction: This story previously stated that 40 restaurants were participating due to a mistake in a news release. The number has been adjusted to 20.