There are a lot of things working against the restaurant industry right now, in no small part due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The virus has claimed far too many lives and deferred dreams, yet many Detroit business owners are refusing to give in. Already in 2021, metro Detroit has seen some bright spots join the dining landscape. Isla made its debut in a new, dedicated Sterling Heights location in January becoming one of the region’s only restaurants devoted to Filipino cuisine. The area is slated to see even more exciting openings, including East African cafe Baobab Fare now open in New Center.
If anything, the past year has taught us that it’s not wise to make predictions — particularly when it comes to opening timelines. But, hell, why not tempt fate? Everyone needs something to look forward to right now. Below, Eater Detroit has assembled a fresh guide to the coming attractions expected to make an entrance in 2021.
Location: 14601 Riverside Blvd.
Key Players: Gwen Meyer and Alison Heeres
Projected Opening: Winter 2021
Following a successful Patronicity campaign in 2019, Coriander Kitchen & Farms’ partners are very near completion of their canalside restaurant and bar in the former Fisherman’s Marina in Jefferson Chalmers. Gwen Meyer and Alison Heeres teamed up in 2014 to start their business and currently operate a small farm and catering business with seasonal pop-ups. The pair were finalists in the Hatch Detroit competition in 2016. The farm-to-table restaurant will feature affordable cuisine with a relaxing patio along the canal — which many got a preview of during summer 2020. RL Concetti worked with Meyer and Heeres on the interior design.
Location: 8002 Kercheval Ave.
Key Players: Dameon Gabriel and Ederique Goudia
Projected Opening: 2021
Detroit has been patiently waiting for Gabriel Hall to make its home in West Village for closing in on seven years. The Cajun restaurant, bar, and music venue from Dameon Gabriel and Louisiana-born chef Ederique Goudia has been brewing since the 2014 Hatch Detroit competition in which fellow West Village spot Sister Pie took the grand prize. Gabriel Hall is currently under construction in a house at the corner of Kercheval and Van Dyke.
Location: 6568 Woodward Ave.
Key Players: Mamba Hamissi and Nadia Nijimbere
Projected Opening: Soft opening Saturday, January 23
This East African restaurant owned by refugees from Burundi is set to anchor the corner of Grand Boulevard and Woodward Avenue in New Center. The 2017 Hatch Detroit winners plan to open a casual 65-seat restaurant serving breakfast and lunch and offering retail options like fresh bottled juices and coffee. The restaurant will start off offering takeout and online ordering until indoor dining is permitted.
Ladder 4 Detroit
Location: 3396 Vinewood St.
Key Players: Sons of Banat, LLC
Projected Opening: 2021
Not many details are available about this forthcoming wine bar project in Southwest Detroit being developed by Sons of Banat, LLC in an old fire house on Vinewood. It was initially rumored to be a new location of Great Lakes Coffee. Co-owner James Cadariu is developing the bar, which is expected to focus on natural wines, with live music and a rooftop patio. Five/Eighths architecture is involved in the build out, which got underway in 2019 and steadily made progress throughout 2020.
Location: 1258 Washington Blvd.
Key Players: Kalamazoo Beer Exchange
Projected Opening: April 2021 (updated)
First reported back in 2019, this offshoot of the popular Kalamazoo Beer Exchange is on the cusp of opening in downtown Detroit this winter, depending on the passage of final inspections and the status of indoor dining in Michigan. Detroit Beer Exchange mimics a stock market with beer prices fluctuating based on the demand for certain labels in 15-minute intervals with “market crashes” at random intervals. Detroit’s location will feature a similar menu to the Kalamazoo outpost and 28 beers, with an additional 10 ciders, meads, and non-alcoholic options on tap. Natural wine and cocktails are also available. Additionally, the Detroit Beer Exchange will also operate a basement bar called Grand River Ballroom and Shorty Bell’s, a to-go pizzeria that’s likely to be among the first of the trio to open.
Location: The Avenue of Fashion near Seven Mile
Key Players: Max Hardy and Ron Bartell
Projected Opening: April
Chef Max Hardy of Coop always seems to be busy juggling multiple projects and 2021 will be no different. The restaurateur recently opened Jed’s Detroit and has two additional restaurants in the works: Honey, an Afro-Caribbean restaurant, is headed to the Harmonie Park neighborhood somewhere around late-summer or early fall 2021. Meanwhile, he’s developing a casual seafood boil spot called What’s Crackin’ with Kuzzo’s owner and former Detroit Lion Ron Bartell. What’s Crackin’ will feature customizable boil-in-a-bag meals featuring flavors sauces and Hardy’s line of spices.
Supino Pizzeria — New Center
Location: 6519 Woodward Ave.
Key Players: Dave Mancini
Projected Opening: February/March 2021 (updated)
New Center is welcoming several highly anticipated restaurant projects this winter, including a second outpost of Eastern Market’s beloved New York-style spot, Supino Pizzeria. The slice shop and sit-down restaurant will feature a full bar and a larger kitchen that will allow owner Dave Mancini to experiment a bit more with the menu and revive some entrees from La Rondinella.
Coffee Down Under — certified open
Location: 607 Shelby St.
Key Players: Tarun Kajeepeta
Projected Opening: Tuesday, January 19 with a grand opening on Thursday, January 21
Originally slated to open last spring, grab-and-go coffee bar Coffee Down Under swings into downtown’s Financial District in January 2021. The shop’s aim is to import Melbourne coffee culture to Detroit with beans roasted by Proud Mary and teas from Somage Fine Foods. Customers can expect Australian drinks like the piccolo, the flat white, and the Melbourne Magic as well as oat and coconut-based ANZAC biscuits.
Location: 8047 Agnes St.
Key Players: Hailey Enszer, Brendon Edwards, Ashley Price, Rick Stanza, and Jonathan Hartzell of DSC Hospitality
Projected Opening: Spring 2021
Former Gold Cash Gold chefs Hailey Enszer and Brendon Edwards plan to open Metropolitan Variety Store this spring, offering a combination of neighborhood boutique market and bar within the former Craft Work space in West Village. Enszer and Edwards’ menu will feature Latin American-influenced food using local produce. Meanwhile, Holiday Market alum Ashley Price will be handling operations on the market-side stocking shelves with local goods and grab-and-go offerings ideal for a picnic on Belle Isle. Takeout is already available and the restaurant is continuing to accept investments through Honeycomb.
- The owner of Savannah Blue plans to open a cocktail lounge in downtown Detroit paying tribute to Black bartending culture.
- It looks like Grandmont Rosedale won’t be without a coffee shop for much longer. Public Square Detroit is certified open.
- A fancy hotel from the company behind the Detroit Foundation Hotel is opening in Birmingham in March and bringing a swanky new restaurant with it called Madam.
- Southfield seafood boil spot Saucey Crab opened on Eight Mile in Detroit on Monday, January 18.
- After a fall delay due to the November indoor dining shutdown, Ohio-based Saucy Brew Works, a New Haven-style pizzeria and brewery, is scheduled to take up residence inside Brush Park’s City Modern development on March 3.
- Joe Louis Southern Kitchen was on track to open in 2020 around the time that novel coronavirus derailed everyone’s lives. It may, with a little luck, open in 2021 paying tribute to boxer Joe Louis.
- Little Biscuit Brewery launched a promising crowdfunding campaign last fall with the goal of opening in 2021. Unfortunately, the project is now on hold.
- Unfortunately, Slyde still hasn’t opened in West Village. Last Eater heard it was on track to open in October 2020 with sliders.
- The owner of Sloppy Chops is opening seafood spinoff Sloppy Crab in the old Briggs Detroit building in Bricktown in March or April.
- If indoor dining becomes a safer option, it’s possible Indian fusion spot Midnight Temple may open to the public in 2021. In the meantime, the restaurant accepts to-go orders.
- Red Hook Coffee’s third outpost is poised to arrive this spring in the Rivertown Warehouse District.
- Supergeil, a new döner kebab spot, could potentially arrive in Corktown in 2021.
- Sugarbuzz Vegan Bakery is certified open in downtown Ferndale with vegan paczki in tow.
- The folks behind the popular Lobster Food Truck plan to open a new storefront in 2021.
- Work on a new cocktail lounge called Petty Cash is underway on Livernois.
- Chicago import Portillo’s is slated to open March 16 in Sterling Heights.
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