The first Detroit outpost of Ann Arbor’s hit restaurant Frita Batidos is now open in a bright white and expansive space on Columbia Street. The Cuban-influenced restaurant founded by chef Eve Aronoff features a full bar and spicy, egg-topped chorizo burgers.
Frita Batidos Detroit is located along the Columbia Street promenade, a pedestrian pathway built by Olympia Development that runs between the Fox Theatre and the still-under-construction Little Caesars World Headquarters. The 2,400-square-foot establishment seats 90 inside with 46 seats on the patio. Customers will find that Frita’s Detroit location has a nearly identical look to the Ann Arbor restaurant with stark white walls, communal picnic tables, and a walk-up counter with menu boards pinned to the walls. Large windows with green painted frames run along the length of the space letting in plenty of natural light.
Aronoff, whose known nationally as a contestant on Top Chef: Las Vegas, opened Frita Batidos in Ann Arbor in 2010. The menu at Frita is influenced by Aronoff’s childhood visits to Miami where her grandmother lived. In junior high, she recalls taking the bus on a solo trip to Calle Ocho in Little Havana. “I fell in love and I went around to all the markets and just wandered around the neighborhood all day,” she says. Aronoff tells Eater she’s looking forward to maintaining the same experience and feel as the Ann Arbor original in a more spacious setting. “We want a lot of it to be the same and have the same spirit,” she says.
Aronoff says that many of her staff members in Ann Arbor have stuck with her for more than six years and she’s trying to carry that same staff culture over to the new restaurant. Paterno Johnson, a Highland Park native who has worked at the Ann Arbor restaurants since its infancy, is managing the Detroit restaurant.
During the hiring process Johnson and Aronoff say they worked worked hard to find people who shared the same philosophy. “We just see who we click with. People who have a natural attention to detail and love taking care of people and love nurturing people instead of seeing that as a burden,” Aronoff says. Johnson adds: “Most places people just try to clock in and clock out, but here everyone’s willing to bend over backwards for each other.” The Detroit restaurant employs about 45 staff members. Managers at Frita are provided with full benefits, according to Aronoff. Aronoff says she’s exploring options for offering a contribution to health insurance for all staff, but wants to make sure that’s something employees want.
On the menu, diner can find all the Ann Arbor restaurant’s classics including fritas (burgers topped with crispy shoestring fries) and batidos (tropical milkshakes in flavors like hibiscus and coconut cream). Frita Batidos Detroit will also serve customizable bowls. People can choose from either coconut ginger rice or romaine lettuce with avocado and cilantro as a base and add to it a protein such as pulled pork or chicken salsa verde. Down the road, the restaurant plans to introduce an express menu for game days. Frita Batidos also serves cocktails and plans to expand that drink menu with more seasonal options at the Detroit location.
Photographer Michelle Gerard took a tour of the restaurant on opening day and checked out a few of Frita Batidos’s dishes. Take a look around in the gallery below.
Frita Batidos is located at 66 W. Columbia St.; open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday.
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