Chicago Restaurateur Kleiner Eyes Detroit Spot

Chicago Business

Chicago restaurateur Jerry Kleiner is considering opening a restaurant, tentatively named L's Cheesecake Bistro, in the 8,000-square-foot space that used to be Sweet Georgia Brown on the corner of Monroe and Brush streets in Detroit's Greektown.

Kleiner, known for building opulent restaurants in isolated areas, said he was approached by executives at Greektown Casino-Hotel, which owns the space, about opening a restaurant there.

Kleiner said he wants to open a restaurant in Detroit that fits the personality of the city but is still exploring options, including location.

"I think you have to cater to the needs of the community, and you want to do something for that particular customer base," he said. "You can't go wild, but you want some sizzle."

Kleiner was not ready to say when construction will begin but said the restaurant should be open by spring.

"I feel Detroit is a blank canvas ready to explode," Kleiner said in April, when he first began scoping out locations in the area. "It's on everybody's radar."

Kleiner also said he is looking for a local businessman to help him with the project and is considering La-Van Hawkins, the former majority owner of Sweet Georgia Brown, as well as the former president of Wolverine Pizza LLC, which once owned 80 Pizza Hut franchises in Southeast Michigan.

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The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy will host its largest fundraising celebration of the year, Shimmer on the River, on Thursday, September 8, 2011 from 6  to 10 p.m.  This magical night, taking place outdoors on the GM Plaza & Promenade, is expected to attract hundreds of guests with proceeds benefiting the nonprofit Conservancy and its continued development of the Detroit Riverfront.

The GM Plaza – situated in the heart of the international riverfront with spectacular views spanning from the Ambassador Bridge to Belle Isle – will be transformed into an intimate party setting providing guests with a night to remember at one of Detroit’s favorite destination spots.  Guests will enjoy a strolling dinner featuring Detroit favorites and Michigan-made products, along with cocktails and dancing on the Detroit RiverWalk with live entertainment by jazz greats the Les Williams Band and One World Island.  In addition, the Conservancy will honor U.S. Senator Carl Levin during a brief ceremony for his decades-long commitment to the transformation of the Detroit Riverfront.

A VIP ticket allows guests admission to an intimate pre-event cocktail reception in the Waterfront Lounge, located in the Renaissance Center, with stunning views of the RiverWalk, and the chance to mingle with the honored guests and sponsors prior to the party. 

“This is an evening for every Detroit Riverfront supporter to come together and not only celebrate what’s been accomplished, but to also play a role in its continued transformation and growth,” said Faye Alexander Nelson, President & CEO, the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy.  “Being outdoors on the GM Plaza will allow guests to take in the beauty and progress firsthand on the Riverfront.”

A range of tickets are now on sale for this spectacular evening including: VIP Tickets, $250 each, which includes complimentary valet parking and admission at 5 p.m. to the pre-event cocktail reception at the Waterfront Lounge in the Renaissance Center; General Admission, $125 each; Young Professional, $75 each, for ages 34 and under.  Reserved tables of ten can also be purchased for $1,000 and $2,000 for the VIP level. 

Tickets for Shimmer on the River may be purchased at or

Vivian W. Day & John W. Stroh, III, are serving as this year’s Honorary Co-Chairs. The event is presented by Strategic Staffing Solutions, with additional sponsor support from Quicken Loans, DTE, Securitas, Charter One, General Motors, Display Group, Diamond Hospitality, Harrington Communications, General Linen, lovio george | communications + design, and HOUR Detroit.  

Here’s some exciting news about Woodward that has nothing to do with the Dream Cruise.

Senator Carl Levin’s office and the Federal Highway Administration just announced a $752,880 grant for “developing a Complete Streets plan for Michigan’s 27-mile Woodward Avenue corridor that connects 11 communities and two Southeast Michigan Counties.”

“Transportation investments like these will create jobs and improve the quality of life for Michigan residents as well as strengthen the state’s economy,” said Secretary [U.S. DOT Secretary Ray] LaHood. “The demand from the states for these funds shows just how critical the need is for infrastructure investment.”

The funding is being awarded to the Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) who will be releasing more details soon.

WA3 has been a big supporter of Complete Streets and they are members of the Detroit Complete Streets Workgroup.

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