Detroit’s community is remembering friend and longtime restaurant and bar fixture Johnny “JLo” Lopez. Metro Times reports that Lopez died Monday. The cause of death was not immediately available.
A serial restaurateur, Lopez was a former partner in Union Street along Woodward Avenue. He left Detroit in the early 1990s only to return and help establish Agave and later Atlas Global Bistro. In the mid-aughts Lopez revived Twingo’s in Midtown and helped establish Mercury Bar in Corktown.
As news of his passing spread, friends, former coworkers, and customers shared their memories and photos of Lopez on social media.
In a statement to followers on Facebook, Union Street’s management expressed condolences to Lopez’s family. “Thank you for sharing him. He was very dedicated to his work to a fault at times but he was damn good at what he had a passion for,” the management writes. “If this guy didn’t make you giggle there was something clearly wrong with you.”
He was an early champion of Detroit’s emerging dining scene and was regularly quoted by local media. He seemed to have an innate sense for predicting the direction of the local food industry.
“Detroit has always been as cool a city as you would find anywhere in the country,” Lopez told Model D in a 2005 interview about new business development in Cass Corridor. “I want to change the quality of life for people in this neighborhood.”