Detroit and its surrounding suburbs represent one of the vastest — and most diverse — collections of neighborhoods in America. The automotive industry retains its strong presence in the city, but that is now accompanied by the presence of dozens more companies in the tech, education, and healthcare sectors. The suburbs are developing alongside the city, with big opportunities in both areas, and a growing population eager to see Detroit become the next big dining destination.
Only a little while back, however, this was not the case, according to James Rigato, Chef of Mabel Gray. “Five years ago, you couldn’t get an investor to come in. It was a risky market.” Now, “we have a captive audience,” he says. “There’s a lot of real estate available, there are growing markets — that lower cost of development means the food scene is really up and coming.”
And with industry booming but property still relatively affordable, it’s never been a better time to be a restaurant owner, according to Luciano DelSignore, Chef/Owner of Bacco Ristorante. “Having a restaurant in this market is really advantageous,” he says. “I see Detroit going no other way but up — there will only be more of a need for restaurants.” The city, he adds, is developing to meet the needs of the restaurant industry, with places like Eastern Market, which makes sourcing high-quality, local meat and produce very convenient.
And while the city has moved beyond just its automotive reputation, the industry serves as a resource for businesses of all kinds, Rigato says, with automotive architects and contractors often crossing over into restaurant construction, or car designers who can also build websites. “Everyone here has a blue collar attitude,” he says. “We are very much hand in hand and supportive of each other.”
Detroit is teeming with opportunity for restaurateurs. As Paul Howard, co-owner of Cliff Bell’s puts it: “It’s a market where you can pretty much do anything, and there is a good chance no one is doing anything like it.” [Read more…]