In a world of restaurant social media accounts that sometimes border on cringe, to just being plain ol’ unhelpful, one page stands out in Detroit: The Facebook page for Duly’s — the century-old, cash-only coney island on Vernor at Junction — churns out not its latest deals on loose burgers, chili fries, or pancakes but rather grounded takes on all manner of local news.
Several days a week, the page administrator weighs in with apparent ease on everything from truck pollution in the neighborhood to skyrocketing real estate prices. It’s a voice that seems to purely and pointedly encompass what makes Detroit great without overlooking its challenges. The voice celebrates history and gently critiques Detroit’s challenges while simultaneously embodying the city’s perpetual optimism — genuinely applauding changes that seem positive and exciting.
The poster refers to their readers as “Duly’s Nation,” explaining to Eater via Facebook Messenger that this refers to “anyone who ever came in to the restaurant for anything from a breakfast, a Duly’s Dog or perhaps a cold glass of water on a hot day — can learn and be aware of what’s going on — we can talk and we can strengthen our bonds together.”
“Whether someone is brand new to the neighborhood, someone is a long-time community member, from the suburbs, city or from outside this area, you are a recent or just arrived immigrant from another country, a priest-poet-or politician, whether you are on the left or the right or neither — whether you are down to your last $5 or perhaps about to make [your] first $5 — we unite and serve all: hot and affordable food with a stool at the counter.”
Indeed, the Duly’s page attracts productive debate between current and former Detroiters. A July 29 post shared historical photos sent by a member of “Duly’s Nation” of the former, long derelict western branch of the YMCA across the street from Clark Park.
“The building should never have ended up in this condition….so says Duly’s Nation All,” read the post, sparking dozens of comments from readers.
But just who is the person behind the page? Restaurant employees say the voice captivating the zeitgeist of the day is a customer who manages the page independently. In response to a request for an interview, the administrator politely declined. “Simpler times, sometimes all was not known and in those simpler times, people had the opportunity to simply enjoy or to be mesmerized,” the mysterious arbiter wrote from behind the veil of Facebook messenger.
The administrator did shed light on what motivates them to keep the page updated and engaging.
“Southwest Detroit is a beautiful neighborhood filled with beautiful people — and yes there is struggle and challenges and difficulties with that beauty — however at the end of the day we are and remain (simply) Southwest Detroit,” read the message.
Alas, some mysteries aren’t meant to be uncovered. But that’s kind of what makes the Duly’s page special.