So much of a restaurant’s success is dependent on timing. And for Akash Sudhakara, owner of Midnight Temple, an Indian street food restaurant in Eastern Market, he’s been waiting for just the right time to open his new space.
He tried first during the summer of 2020 when Midnight Temple began offering outdoor dining and carryout. Back then, patio seating and an outdoor bar run by neighboring Detroit City Distillery had transformed the 2400 block of Riopelle into a chill, pedestrian-friendly outdoor lounge space. However, that preview proved to be short-lived due, in part, a surge in COVID-19 cases. When the weather started getting chilly in fall 2021, Sudhakara closed the outdoor dining space and used the down time to finish designing the interior.
With all of the pieces coming into place, including an authentic atmosphere, and hopefully better timing, Midnight Temple plans to reopen both outdoor and indoors as early as April 2022 at 2466 Riopelle St., Detroit.
Sudhakara says diners’ senses will be tingled when they walk into the restaurant. The restaurant will have a cozy interior fashioned to feel like a traditional Indian home with the energy of a pub. DJs such as Donovan Glover and Blaaqgold will regularly be on hand to spin Motown, hip hop, and R&B, while DJ Ice will offer a mix of Bollywood music and Punjabi Bhangra on Sundays, and mehndi nights will take place on Wednesdays where customers may get their hands decorated with temporary ink.
Midnight Temple’s co-owner and executive chef Bharath Reddy will feature Indian mainstays like lamb biryani, hakka noodle, dosas, and samosas, and chicken tikka masala sweet potato waffle fries with cilantro chutney. He’ll also share his space with guest chefs who will rotate through the kitchen each month to create seasonal, Indian-inspired and other global cuisine.
“I want it to be more like Soho or Chicago where they have that [brunch] scene on Sundays,” says Sudhakara, adding that the restaurant will feature dosas and mimosas for brunch.
Among the visiting chefs will be chef Casey Labiano, who will introduce Indian-Filipino dishes such as chicken adobo, naan, and pork barbecue sticks with basmati rice. Sudhakara and Labiano are longtime friends who both attended Wayne State University.
“I’ve always wanted to bring my mother’s home cooking and colorful, rich culture to Detroit,” Sudhakara says. “It all started when I grew up Downriver. It brought smiles to my parents when my friends and I would come back to the house after having a few sodas to find delicious Indian food that mother made. Her South Indian twist to chicken Tikka masala with puri – deep fried puff bread. My parents were happy to see our cuisine and culture passed on and appreciated here.”
Follow Midnight Temple on Instagram to stay updated on its reopening.