Courtney Smith, 27
Chris Krsteski, 32

Café d'Mongo's Speakeasy
Detroit
So, you're a bartender? Is that what you call yourself?

COURTNEY SMITH: I call myself a lot of things. But when I'm here, that's what other people call me.

You call yourself a speakeasy. What secret activities are engaged in? 

CHRIS KRSTESKI: I try to raid my dad's stash of moonshine and keep that here at all times. Ryan Gosling came in here two weeks in a row. We did a shot with him, and he killed, like, three bottles with us. Larry [Mongo, our boss] brought it out. We got ruined. Brought out another one the next time he came back, and another one. Started jamming on the piano. He was totally cool. He started playing "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" on the piano.

What's the city's drink?

CS: I have a drink I like to make — the Detroit Brown. It's whiskey, Vernors [ginger ale], bitters, and a secret ingredient. People in Detroit drink a lot of ginger ale.
CK: We have another one called the 1439 — that's our address. That's just Captain Morgan and Rock & Rye.

Morgan and what?

CK: Rock & Rye. It's a Faygo. It's a Detroit-based soda.

You guys seem really into soda.

CK: We call it pop.

What do you know about drinking that the rest of us don't?

CK: One of the things people love is seeing their bartender doing a shot with them. "No way! He can drink?"

Why do people go to a bar?

CS: When you're at a restaurant, you're not getting up from your table, saying, "Nice tie. Let's talk."

Read the full article HERE on Esquire!  



Back in the bad old days, office workers in downtown Detroit staged a macabre daily sporting event. At quitting time there would be a mad dash to the parking lot — eyes out for muggers, or worse — then, quick, fire up the car and race home to the suburbs. As night fell, downtown turned into a ghost town.

Those days are a dim memory — and not just on sunny days like Thursday, when Game 4 of the American League Championship Series drew more than 40,000 Tiger fans downtown to Comerica Park, their eyes dancing with visions of sweeping the despised Yankees from the playoffs. Today, as often as not, people who work downtown don’t race home to the suburbs for a simple reason that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago: they also live downtown, in buildings that once stood empty.

The reverse exodus has become so pronounced that downtown Detroit can now be fairly accused of imitating such desirable New York addresses as Chelsea or TriBeCa. Yes, it’s gotten so bad — or good — that it’s now nearly impossible to find a vacant apartment to rent in downtown Detroit.

Mandy Davenport is a recent volunteer in this army of foot soldiers, mostly young people, who have moved into downtown. Many work in high-tech jobs, or they pursue creative careers while supporting themselves with day jobs, or, like Davenport, they’re part of the real estate boom.

“The only thing I used to know about downtown Detroit was Tigers games,” says Davenport, 30, who moved from tiny Williamston, near Lansing, about six weeks ago to take a job as office manager in the Broderick Tower, an elegant 34-story tower on Woodward Avenue that is being converted into luxury apartments. “My friends in California told me I was stupid to move here, I’m going to get killed. Frankly, I thought it was going to be scarier. There’s a lot to do — bars, restaurants, concerts, games, the Eastern Market. It’s a lot of young people, people moving in from the suburbs. A lot of people want to walk to work.”

As she speaks, she’s standing in the Broderick’s duplex penthouse apartment that looks down onto the diamond where the Tigers and Yankees are doing battle. From the other side of the apartment you can see the muscular clump of downtown skyscrapers, the silver ribbon of the Detroit River behind it and, off in the distance, Windsor and the vastness of Ontario.

Click HERE to read the full article on The New York Times!

Buffalo Rising: 'Surprising Road Trip: Detroit'

2012_0902AE.JPGIf you have ever visited the city of Detroit but haven't been back there in the last few years, you may be in for a pleasant surprise. The city has endured enormously difficult times, especially recently, but if there is one bright spot in Detroit, it would be the city's heart, downtown. Much has changed since I first visited Detroit in 2002. Businesses, retailers and restaurants have opened downtown, which is amazing considering it was written-off for dead. Quicken Loans, General Motors, Compuware and others large and small have made significant investments. The riverfront, waterfront and Campus Martius have become draws. Downtown is also seeing an influx of people to live, work and play.

Vacancies continue to plague the city, but downtown's historic properties, many vacant for decades, are finding new uses. Buildings are being renovated into offices, lofts or hotels, including the Westin Book-Cadillac hotel which is a model for the reusing Buffalo's Statler. At 29 stories, the Book-Cadillac was the world's tallest hotel when it was built back in 1924. It was vacated and left for dead in 1983 until finding new life in 2008.

This hotel, and the Holiday Inn Express across the street, have put some life back on Washington Boulevard, which was a failed pedestrian mall similar to Main Street in Buffalo. Like the Statler in Buffalo, the Book-Cadillac has played host to numerous weddings and receptions, bringing much-needed business into downtown.

Each of my four stays at the Book-Cadillac have been great and the rooms are very nice. The hotel takes up the first 23 floors and the top six floors are luxury condos. The Westin's trademark Heavenly Beds are almost second-to-none in comfort. Rooms are modern yet retain reminders of the building's history. There's even a cool gift shop of Detroit "swag" on the ground.

Redevelopment in the city has been focused on sports (Comerica Park, Ford Field and Joe Louis Arena), the arts and culture (Detroit's Theater District is said to be second only to New York's for the number of theaters), education, health care, and casinos (three).

My last visit was in September, while attending a couple of Detroit Tigers games and over the weekend, paid a visit to the Henry Ford Museum in the nearby suburb of Dearborn (which is about a $20 cab ride or 7 miles from downtown). The museum includes the incredible historic Greenfield Village, where you can find Henry Ford's childhood farm and home, the Wright Brothers Bike Shop and House, and Thomas Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory.

Click HERE to read the full article on Buffalo Rising! 
Photo: Detroit News

Road trip, thy name is trepidation.

What’s the source of this dread I’m feeling? It’s not the fact that I left my Alphabet City apartment in the predawn dark on Tuesday and pointed the snout of my rust-bucket 1989 Mazda west toward my hometown, Detroit, 600 miles distant. It’s not even the sheer lunacy of my day’s itinerary — across the George Washington Bridge and the Garden State, then over the corduroy hump of Pennsylvania, and finally across that enormous dinner plate of a battleground state called Ohio.

All of this just to go back home to see my beloved Detroit Tigers take on the Yankees on Tuesday night in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.

(Wait a minute, you’re thinking, a man in the 21st century wants to get from New York to Detroit to see a baseball game, and he drives? Well, yes, because I was born and raised in Detroit, and when a Detroit guy wants to go somewhere, he gets into a car and drives there. It beats showing up at La Guardia six hours before your scheduled departure and then being treated like a criminal. I rest my case for keeping my wheels on the road.)

Most surprising of all, my dread is not coming from a feeling that the Yankees’ batters are going to wake from their collective coma and start Ping-Ponging hits all over the park.

No, my dread comes from something much simpler, a question: What if my very first visit to Comerica Park stinks? What if the successor to Tiger Stadium is a “cookie cutter,” as I’ve heard it described? What if the fans are obnoxious? What if the whole experience is just another dreary episode in The Great Overpriced American Racket of Keeping the People Entertained?

To fully understand my anxiety, you need to understand that I grew up in Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s, attending baseball and football games at a glorious old pile of a stadium that hosted its first game in 1912, a few weeks after the Titanic sank. It was called Navin Field back then. When I first visited, it was known as Briggs Stadium, and the name was changed again in 1961 to Tiger Stadium.

It was a great green open-air room that held about 50,000 fans but somehow felt intimate because everyone was close to the action. The stadium was enclosed, meaning you couldn’t see anything but the game that was being played before your eyes. The world went away for a few hours when you were in that place, and that was a big part of its magic.

If you loved the Tigers in the years of my youth, it was a given that you also despised the Yankees. In the first decade of my life, the Yankees won the American League all but two times — in 1954, when Bob Feller and the Cleveland Indians awoke, briefly, and in 1959 when the Chicago White Sox had a rare and uncharacteristic summer of success.

Click HERE to read the full article on The New York Times!


Another masterful performance from the starting rotation has the Detroit Tigers two wins away from their first World Series appearance since 2006.

So Motor City, can you taste it?

With three games upcoming at Comerica Park, Detroiters have reason to believe that their blessed boys will drive a stake through the Yankees some time in the next week.

And as an impartial observer, I'm buying it.

Five reasons why...

1. Swing-and-Miss Stuff 

Among baseball's final four, no starting rotation is better at punching out opponents than Detroit's.

Each one of the Tigers' postseason starters—Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, and Anibal Sanchez —struck out more than 7.5 batters per nine innings this season and boasted a SO:BB ratio north of 3.45. No other postseason foursome can make either claim.

Translation: Tigers starters are really hard to hit.

Of course, in any month, generating whiffs is a recipe for success. It's one of the few outcomes where a pitcher isn't at the mercy of his defense.

But in postseason play, the ability to strike batters out can carry an extra special situational boon. In games where runs are at a premium, holding baserunners at third with less than two outs takes on added importance. Strikeouts are the best way to do that. And so often we see teams strategize with that very outcome in mind.

Now, when most teams need a strikeout to prevent damage, they're forced to lean on their relief corps—even if that means removing a starter who's been reasonably effective. Take a look at the top K/9 rates in baseball this year and you'll see why.

But not the Tigers. With two starters averaging a strikeout an inning or more (Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer), manager Jim Leyland can ride his horses in situations where opposing manager might have to tax the 'pen.

Click HERE to read the full article on the Bleacher Report! 

Dewayne Hurling loves Detroit and is thrilled to have renovated a beautiful old home in the Boston-Edison neighborhood of the city. Young adults who have recently moved to Detroit or are lifelong residents are giving the city a new vitality.
Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor

A burst of youthful energy – from native Detroiters and new immigrants – debunks the opinion that nothing can be done to jumpstart the Motor City.

Stories of Detroit's emerging comeback often highlight the city’s attraction to young hipsters. According to plentiful media reports, well-educated twenty-somethings are streaming into the Motor City to test out new ideas, explore art and music projects, or launch D-I-Y revitalization initiatives.

You can spot a number of once-dormant corners of the city now pulsing with activity thanks to young entrepreneurs. Corktown now sports pubs and restaurants that would fit in Brooklyn or Portland. Midtown shows all the makings of a creative class hub, complete with hipsters hanging out at the Good Girls Go to Paris creperie, the Avalon International Breads bakery, and the N’Nmadi Center gallery, devoted to the rich tradition of African-American abstract art. Recent college grads can be seen all over town from the bountiful Eastern Market to bustling Campus Martius square to festive Mexicantown to the scenic Riverwalk to the yummy Good People Popcorn shop downtown, featuring flavors like cinnamon and chocolate drizzle.

This burst of youthful energy – even in the face of the city’s continuing economic and social woes – debunks widespread opinion that nothing can be done to jumpstart the Motor City. While a new, more positive narrative about Detroit is welcome, there are problems in focusing entirely on idealistic young adventurers swooping in to save the city – it reinforces the stereotype of native Detroiters as hapless, helpless, and hopeless.

The truth is, locals have been working hard for years to uplift the common good in Detroit, which drew the interest of outsiders. And newcomers aren’t the only ones stirring up excitement around town. Good People Popcorn, for instance, was started by two sisters and a cousin, all of whom grew up here. Sarida Scott Montgomery, one of the founders who is also a lawyer and executive director of the Community Development Advocates of Detroit, says people are often surprised she grew up in the city. "Not in the suburbs," she says, "but in Detroit itself."

Regina Ann Campbell, director of the Milwaukee Junction Small Business Center incubator in Detroit's North End, grew up on the Northwest side before earning a Masters in urban planning degree at the University of Michigan. "I welcome all the new people," she says. "But it’s important for them to understand they are building on some things that have been going on for years. I want to help them appreciate the city though the eyes of the people who have lived here."

Ms. Scott Montgomery and Ms. Campbell are both part of a new initiative that matches the talents of bright, young professionals with local organizations working at the frontlines of reviving Detroit. The Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program (DRFP) selected 29 fellows with backgrounds in urban planning, economic development, finance, real estate, and related fields.

Click HERE to read the full article on Christian Science Monitor! 

The Detroit Public Schools Foundation announces that 300 Detroit students will participate in the Future City Competition this school year because of a grant from ITC Holdings Corp. (ITC).

The $20,000 grant will cover the cost of the students to take part in the Competition, which is coordinated by the Engineering Society of Detroit.

The Future City Competition challenges students to design a city of the future - and have fun doing it. This program was designed to promote technological literacy and engineering to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. The program fosters an interest in math, science and engineering through hands-on, real world applications and helps students better understand the practical applications of mathematical and scientific principles. The Future City Competition is a team-based program consisting of students, a teacher, and an engineer mentor.

“ITC is proud to support the Detroit Public Schools Foundation and its efforts to increase the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum in its schools,” said Gregory Ioanidis, president, ITC Michigan. “The Future City Competition will help Detroit Public School students better understand the practical applications of math and science principles through hands-on, real world application of their studies.”

Through its Charitable Giving Program, ITC awards grants to qualified 501 (c) (3) organizations that deliver charitable services in the counties where ITC operates. Grants support programs and projects that reflect the values of ITC: education, environmental stewardship, social services and health and wellness.

“Thanks to ITC, hundreds of motivated Detroit students will get first-hand experience with science and math that will build on what they have learned in the classroom and, hopefully, propel them toward college and careers,” said Dr. Glenda Price, President of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation. “This is a shining example of the successful educational programs we are here to support.”

About ITC Holdings Corp.
ITC Holdings Corp. (NYSE: ITC) is the nation’s largest independent electric transmission company. Based in Novi, Michigan, ITC invests in the electric transmission grid to improve reliability, expand access to markets, lower the overall cost of delivered energy and allow new generating resources to interconnect to its transmission systems. ITC’s regulated operating subsidiaries include ITCTransmission, Michigan Electric Transmission Company, ITC Midwest and ITC Great Plains. Through these subsidiaries, ITC owns and operates high-voltage transmission facilities in Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, serving a combined peak load exceeding 26,000 megawatts along 15,000 circuit miles of transmission line. Through ITC Grid Development and its subsidiaries, the company also focuses on expansion in areas where significant transmission system improvements are needed. For more information, please visit ITC’s website at www.itc-holdings.com. (itc-ITC).

About the Detroit Public Schools Foundation
The Detroit Public Schools Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising, managing and stewarding funds and other resources to support value-added programs and activities for the benefit of the Detroit Public Schools, DPS-authorized charter schools, DPS schools placed in the Education Achievement Authority, and their respective students. Detroit Public Schools Foundation operates independently of the Detroit Public Schools. For more information, visit detroitpsfoundation.org.
The Salvation Army Southeast Michigan Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) is celebrating happily ever afters at the Romulus Women’s Center during the nonprofit’s annual Harvest of Blessings dinner and fashion show on Friday, Oct. 19. Festivities will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a reception and continue with a sit-down dinner at 7 p.m. provided by the nonprofit’s culinary arts program.

The highlight of the evening will come during a fairytale-themed fashion show emceed by WXYZ Reporter Erin Nicole and featuring twelve women currently enrolled in the women’s program. Each beneficiary will be dressed in attire from one of the 33 metro Detroit Salvation Army thrift stores, and themed to reflect one of the princess fairytale stories.

“The ladies who live at the Romulus facility truly undergo a massive transformation while participating in our rehabilitation program,” Cheryl Miller, administrator of women’s and families ministries for The Salvation Army ARC. “The fairytale theme of the Harvest of Blessings fashion show is representative of the positive changes the women make to rebuild their lives on the journey to recovery.”

Throughout the evening, guests will be invited to take part in a silent auction of items donated by various local businesses and organizations, including a ticket package to the Detroit Zoo; tickets to a Detroit Pistons game; a boat ride on the Detroit Diamond Jack; a spa package; custom golf clubs; a selection of gift cards; and exclusive items from each of The Salvation Army’s 33 metro Detroit thrift stores.

All proceeds will directly benefit the nonprofit’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers in metro Detroit.

“The ultimate goal of the Harvest of Blessings event is to raise money to provide support for beneficiaries and their families,” said Merle Miller, administrator of The Salvation Army Southeast Michigan Adult Rehabilitation Center. “Since all of our ARC programs are independently-funded, this annual fundraiser plays a key role in continuing our ability to assist men and women looking to overcome their addictions.”

For more information visit www.salarmythrift.com or call 313.965.7760.

Social entrepreneurs are on a mission to improve our communities. Like us, do you believe in their potential? If so, please join us in our efforts to revitalize the region's economy through social entrepreneurship and donate to our Groupon Grassroots campaign. Funds raised will go directly to the winners of our Startup SOUP pitch competition for social entrepreneurs.

Here's what you can do to help out:

1. Go to the campaign page to donate and help us reach our goal.

2. Share campaign news and progress on Facebook and Twitter, as well as through email.

Thank you for your support! We certainly appreciate all contributions, as every dollar raised is essential in our efforts to aid these startups through their early stages of growth.

Want to attend Startup SOUP? Click here to register.

5:30-8:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 9
Gleaners Community Food Bank
2131 Beaufait St.
Detroit

Cost is $5 CASH at the door. Startup SOUP provides an entrepreneurial twist on the established, highly popular crowd-funding model. To host the event, TechTown has partnered with Detroit SOUP, a micro-granting dinner that funds creative projects in Detroit.

For more information on TechTown's programs, visit techtowndetroit.org.

Photo: Jessica Lundgren McCarthy, Heidelberg Project 

DETROIT

Although the Motor City still has its fair share of problems, it has undergone an impressive — and very recent — renaissance. Characters, artists and tourists are all welcome here. 

The Henry Ford: Its self-proclaimed significance as “America’s Greatest History Attraction” is only a slight exaggeration. Here, you will find the chair in which Abraham Lincoln sat on the night of his assassination, the actual bus that Rosa Parks famously refused to move to the back of, and many other artifacts and curiosities. An impressive collection of autos includes several presidential limousines (including the Cadillac that carried John F. Kennedy on that fateful day in Dallas). thehenryford.org 

The Heidelberg Project: Taking up an entire city block in a rough downtown neighbourhood, this outdoor art installation mixes the whimsical with the just plain weird. A lawnmower perches atop a mountain of shoes; a beached boat is heaped high with oversized stuffed toys; an entire two-storey house has been painted with bright multi-colour polka dots. It’s all the brainchild of Tyree Guyton, who fought city hall (and won) to keep his sprawling project alive. Guyton is now celebrated internationally for his work with found objects, and you can come to Heidelberg, view his work and chat with the earnest local volunteers who help interpret — all free of charge. heidelberg.org 

Russell Industrial Center: With 1 million square feet of space, this former auto parts factory now provides studio space for dozens of Detroit artists, from glassblowers and photographers to bona fide painters and even a silk-screen artist who has created album covers and concert posters for everyone from Patti Smith to Alice Cooper and Kid Rock. Call ahead and make an appointment to tour the showrooms, or visit on the weekend, when the complex hosts a public flea market. ricdetroit.org

Click HERE to read the full article on the Toronto Star! 

43. Corktown

43. Corktown 

Location: Detroit

Notable Businesses: Hostel Detroit, MGM Grand Detroit, Nancy Whiskey, Slows Bar BQ, Sugar House, Rachel's Place, Astro Coffee

Corktown is Detroit's oldest neighborhood, and today it's become a diamond in the rough—proof that the D isn't all gloom and doom. There's a non-profit youth hostel called Hostel Detroit, where beds start at $18 and the volunteers go above and beyond to make guests feel at home. If that isn't your scene, there's always the MGM Grand Detroit, which toes the line between Corktown and Downtown like a wide receiver (in this case, Calvin Johnson) trying to stay in bounds. Slows Bar BQ is arguably the best restaurant in the city, and you should try that Yardbird sandwich for confirmation, and you can hit up Nancy Whiskey to drink responsibly. Vintage rules here—clothes can be found at Rachel's Place, and books at the John K. King store. The neighborhood was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and things are steadily on the up and up. It's about time you heard about something good out of Detroit, right?

Click HERE to read the full list on ComplexStyle! 
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