Kiki Louya — a cofounder of Folk, Mink, and former market and cafe the Farmer’s Hand —is stepping away from her Detroit restaurants. Louya announced the move today in an email, stating that her departure from the Nest Egg restaurant group would be “effective later this month.”
Louya and partner Rohani Foulkes, teamed up to open the Farmer’s Hand — a hyper-local neighborhood market with sandwiches and coffee — in 2016. Together, they went on to open a sister restaurant on the block called Folk in 2018, serving all-day breakfast and coffee. Along the way, Louya and Foulkes became champions for developing more equitable workplaces in the food service industry with better wages and benefits.
Last summer, as part of a reorganization and melding of mutual business philosophies, Louya and Foulkes joined their businesses with restaurateur Ping Ho and chef Sarah Welch to form the Nest Egg hospitality group. As part of the shakeup, the Farmer’s Hand closed with plans for an expansion in a new location. Folk also received a new chef and an updated menu focused on reducing waste and sourcing seasonally. Last fall, the newly formed restaurant group opened Mink at the old Farmer’s Hand address.
Louya seems to be pivoting out of restaurant ownership and into advocacy. “As I look back at the past few years, I am proud of the work I’ve accomplished with my partners,” she writes in a statement:
We came together from four different parts of the world — myself, a Detroiter, and the others excited to find their place in this city’s fabric — and together, we explored new business models. We challenged industry norms. We spoke up about fair wages and fair treatment. We supported local purveyors, and made sustainability a part of our mission. We gained recognition for our accomplishments, and I earned a seat at the table. But I have to ask myself: is that really enough?
Is the end goal to stand alongside the decision makers? Or is the real impact when you find a way to craft a table all your own?
Those questions, Louya says, led her to the conclusion that she needed to pursue a “new approach to equity.”