The Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest has returned following a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, and with it, eight food and drink-related businesses have made it to the semifinals. Also new this year, the 11-year-old initiative has partnered with the nonprofit business support organization, TechTown, to further its ability to provide technical assistance for early and small scale businesses and entrepreneurs.
The 10 semifinalists are all vying for $100,000 in startup funds from Comerica Bank to open a brick and mortar business, in addition to a number of services, including accounting, legal, IT and public relations support.
The competition has helped with the development of some of Detroit’s most beloved new food and beverage projects for nearly a decade, including: Sister Pie, Batch Brewing Company, La Feria, Rocco’s Italian Deli, and Baobab Fare. Between midnight June 16 and 11:59 p.m. June 23 the first round of public voting is open, giving residents time to weigh-in on who will advance to the finals. Meet this year’s contestants below:
Food and Beverage:
- COLFETARIE: This Romanian-inspired dessert and pastry shop currently operates as an online business featuring meringue fruit cake, Romanian tea biscuits, and traditional branzoaice and is looking to locate downtown.
- Craig’s Coffee: Founded by Craig Batory in 2019 as a coffee roaster, plans include a community coffee roastery and coffee bar where fellow roasters can roast and sell their own products and a commissary kitchen available to other food and drink businesses for food prep, storage, and service.
- Detroit Farm and Cider: The city’s first Black woman-owned cider mill, situated on a 4.9 acre commercial farm on Detroit’s West side, opened in 2020, at first sourcing its cider and donuts from Parmenter’s Cider Mill in Northville. Founder Leandra King plans to build a cider mill and offer youth day camps and horseback riding classes.
- Gajiza Dumplins: Currently operating as a popup at the Lost River tiki bar on the city’s east side, this dumpling shop specializes in handmade Asian-style dumplings from scratch, available in more than 30 flavors from traditional pork and shrimp Shumai to miso cheeseburger gyoza and goat cheese and leek.
- Jo’s Gallery Cafe: Jo’s Gallery is a 20-year-old art gallery operates on the Livernois Avenue of Fashion and is looking to launch an adjacent pan-ethnic restaurant featuring cuisine with identifiable African origins and influences from Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Americas.
- Lily’s & Elise: a luxury tea lounge on the Avenue of Fashion focused on premium service of European-style afternoon and high tea with fresh pastries, small plates, and teas from around the world.
- Little Liberia: Founder Ameneh Marhaba has been cooking traditional Liberian dishes — a cuisine that has influences from Africa, the Caribbean, and African Americans from the Antebellum-South — for years under her popup Kitchen Ramaj, now rebranded as Little Liberia. Now, she’s looking to open a brick and mortar space.
- Pong Detroit: A table tennis social club that includes a full menu of pizza, burgers, and entrees with names that pay homage to Motown’s heyday (Aretha Franklin’s “World Famous” fried chicken, for example). Pong Detroit features a safe space for competitive ping pong matches, youth programs, and accessible play for adaptive wheelchair table tennis, and programming for seniors.
Non-Food and Beverage:
- K. Walker Collective: A lifestyle clothing company focused on young urban professionals by offering an eclectic range of street, comfort and refined fashion.
- Motor City House of Stone: A distributor of natural and engineered stone slabs in Southeast Michigan that carries a selection of granite, marble, quartz, and other premium stone in a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Detroit.
Since its inception 2011, Hatch Detroit alumni have gone on to open 49 businesses, employ more than 500 workers and have invested more than $7 million in the local economy.