The Pink Flamingo got its start in 2012 when founder Meiko Krishok, operator of the catering business Guerrilla Food, began serving food out Airstream trailer on a lot North Corktown. Each spring, fans of the food truck look forward to the announcement for the first Thursday night Pink pop-up of the year, when Krishok and her collaborators open the trailer and welcome customers back to Vermont Street for wholesome, communal garden meals around a blazing fire pit.
Operating outdoors in such a special setting has made the Pink Flamingo into a destination in warm weather, but it’s also incompatible with Michigan’s long winter. As a result, the Flamingo has always closed in the fall — typically around October. Starting next week, all that will change. Beginning on Sunday, September 22, the popular food truck will finally open the doors to its at its first counter-service restaurant, Pink Flamingo To-Go. Located near Palmer Park at 17740 Woodward Ave., the new quick service restaurant will allow Pink Flamingo’s team to free itself from the constraints of Michigan winters and refocus on serving affordable, local food to the community all year.
Krishok, along with her partner Khalee and his sister BB, began searching for a space last fall, after their shared commercial kitchen became too cramped. “We just got to the point where we were busting at the seams,” Krishok says.
The group eventually found a former Bread Basket Deli, just across from Palmer Park. Khalee, who goes by a first name only, says he saw the potential in the building, despite a significant layer of grime. The restaurant featured a huge kitchen with lots of relatively new equipment and a small walk-up counter area with a deli case. The partners signed the lease and spent the winter thoroughly cleaning the space, making repairs, and acquiring equipment.
Now nearly completed, the old deli has been repainted in matte black walls and a hot pink roof while the restaurant’s interior is spotless with polished metal countertops and a large deli case.
Guerrilla Food and the Pink Flamingo food truck have always been defined by an intentional approach to feeding the community. Guerrilla Food abides by a holistic “food as medicine” philosophy that focuses on serving wholesome meals that’s good for the body as well as the spirit. Those principles of nourishing people and fostering human connection will be carried over into the new restaurant.
BB, who works in the kitchen helping Meiko with food prep, describes the meals at Pink Flamingo as “happy food.” She says tries to find a balance between food that both looks good and tastes delicious: “I want to eat something and smell something and taste something that makes me smile.”
Pink Flamingo To-Go’s menu will consist of dishes similar to those served on the truck. The restaurant will offer a core list of items with recipes that can be easily tweaked to suit the produce that’s in season. Customers can expect options like grab-and-go salads, rice balls, and bowls with rotating grain, protein, and vegetable options. Soups, such as black-eyed peas and greens or vegetable curry, will be available hot by-the-cup as well as in chilled, quart sizes. There will also be a variety of desserts including grab-and-go cake and haupia — a Hawaiian coconut pudding with seasonal fruit and a nut-based crust. For breakfast, Pink Flamingo To-Go will serve yogurt cups with fruit compote and granola. Diners can also pick up drinks such as fresh lemonade, hibiscus tea, fruit smoothies, and coffee. Krishok also plans to sell some of the restaurant’s sauces including banana ketchup, miso chipotle sauce, and green sauce.
As with the Pink Flamingo’s farm dinners, the partners want to build community through the carryout restaurant by working with local groups in the surrounding neighborhoods and by hosting dinners and cooking classes. “I think one of the things that is really interesting with food the way that we do it is that it brings people together,” Khalee says.
Pink Flamingo will host a special brunch buffet as part of its grand opening from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on September 22. The cost is $20 per person and will include options like vegan and turkey-chicken sausage patties, vegan biscuits, cinnamon raisin walnut bread, and baked herb and cheese eggs. After 3 p.m., the carryout restaurant will open for regular business.
Pink Flamingo To-Go is located at 17740 Woodward Ave.; starting September 23 the restaurant will open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday (Closed Thursday and Friday); hours will be adjusted after the Pink Flamingo food truck’s final 2019 pop-up at the end of October; website.
Update: This story has been updated to reflect that opening hours were adjusted.
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