Food and Drink Startups Are Paving a Way for Small Biz in the D

With two recent startups in the local food and drink biz, there’s a lot to be said right now for small business in Detroit. Not only are the new entrants thoughtful and exciting, they are also paving the way for other future businesses by blasting through regulatory restrictions that are now outdated and have plagued others success for many years.

Last Tuesday Astro Coffee opened up its doors just a few stops down from the famed Slow’s Barbeque in Corktown. Truth be told there are many reasons why Astro Coffee isn’t just a mindless coffee shop with rustic decor and silly sayings on the wall about how crappy Mondays are and therefore how important coffee is. My vote for why you should like Astro Coffee: they make a flat white. Flat white?! Let me back up. Whilst spending some time in Sydney, Australia I became very accustomed to waking up in the morning and sucking down a nice flat white- that is, a single shot of espresso poured over steamed milk. Kind of like a cappuccino, but they use the steamed milk from the bottom of the pitcher instead of the dry foam from the top. It became daily practice to guzzle one down and it’s been practically impossible to find one stateside since. So let’s just say when I looked on the chalkboard menu behind the counter at Astro this past weekend and saw “flat white” I was pretty excited. But don’t let that be the only reason you go in. Check out the beautifully designed space, log some time on the free wifi and save your receipt when you get your coffee. Take that sucker over to Supinos Pizzeria in Eastern market and get a free slice until the end of July. See, that’s how cool Detroit is.

Just last night, Crain’s reported that downtown Detroit’s first food truck has won approval from the City Council marking something of a monumental move. Backstory: We all know that food trucks are popular in the Southwest, with dozens of trucks offering tacos and burritos, but long ago there was an amendment that banned such food trucks in the downtown area. My research concludes that this was because of the proximity that such food vendors were setting up to gas stations and such, causing an extreme fire hazard. So, El Guapo, the name of the food truck serving tacos, burritos and a variety of salsas that will now be parked at 301 Monroe Street is a great smashing success.

In fact, hopefully guys like the bagel brothers, Dan and Ben Newman, along with other food vendors, will stand to benefit from the success of El Guapo. Dan and Ben are the brothers behind the Detroit Institute of Bagels, and with startup efforts like their own that have no bricks and mortar presence, food trucks could be a nice option. Perhaps when the city understands that food trucks are a viable source of tax revenue downtown, they will move a little quicker in making the necessary approvals. Time will tell. In the meantime, go try a flat white and support your up and coming food businesses.

Toby the Tank Engine Keeps Writing

Shorpy threw up another photo. Are these still interesting? Christ, I think so.

Toby Barlow, the ace who was featured in The Farmer and the Philosopher, put together a real nice article for Under the Influence’s Detroit Issue. You can read it on Toby and Phil Cooley’s (Owner of Slow’s BBQ) blog site “Remains of the D.” They are doing some cool projects over there in the media-verse– some photography work and an upcoming fundraiser for Dai Hughes’ Astro Coffee project to go in to the Slow’s MegaMall on Michigan Avenue (the building with the star and the army’esque looking gal pointing a rifle).

They linked to a cool article from Model D about a distinguished French gentleman that thinks it is OH-SO-WISE to be investing greenbacks in Detroit. Beautiful.

Tonight! TONIGHT! TONIGHT! Ahhh, geez. Genesis always gets the best of me. But. What I was trying to say is that MOCAD is hosting a fantastic (FREE!) film screening tonight– a look at some rare arhival footage of Detroit from the Prelinger archives. The deets, my friends, are best located here.