Food is helping bringing the motor city back to life.
There’s something inspiring about frequenting a Black owned business and supporting entrepreneurs who look like you. No matter the month, it’s never too late to celebrate the women and men who dream big, create jobs and make us proud.
For instance, in Detroit there are a number of prosperous, Black-owned restaurants churning out buzz-worthy, delicious dishes and vibes that deserve national attention. Restaurants like Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles on the city’s west side.
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Former NFL cornerback Ron Bartell, who is a native of the city, owns Kuzzo’s, which opened in January 2015. The casual restaurant, which boasts $2 million in gross sales, is named after the term of endearment Black people use to describe friends who are like family. Eighty-three percent of Detroit’s population is Black.
“Opening a business in Detroit is my way of giving back to the community that nurtured me,” says Bartell, 34, a husband and father who the St. Louis Rams drafted in 2005. Bartell also played for the Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions. “What makes Detroit special is its resilience to overcome, adapt, thrive and not die in the face of adversity. Detroit taught me to be tough on the gridiron but polished and strategic in business."
“It's important to provide jobs and opportunities that may not exist for other African Americans,” the Howard University alum says. “Also, as a young Black male being a business owner sets an example for other Black males that their dreams of entrepreneurship are attainable.”
Here are a few other Black-owned Detroit restaurants of note:
Motown natives Diallo and Jameel Smith are the husband and wife team behind the Drive Table Tennis Social Club in downtown Detroit. In addition to being parents and church leaders, the two own this popular hub where customers can play Ping Pong, grab a bite to eat and a drink.
Erika Boyd was born and raised in Detroit and co-owns Detroit Vegan Soul with her business and life partner Kirsten Ussery. The two women decided to adapt a vegan lifestyle when Boyd lost her father to cancer. After impressing family and friends with Boyd’s culinary creations, the couple launched a catering and meal delivery service, which has expanded into a casual brick and mortar restaurant.
Mo Better Blues in Detroit is owned by Marilyn Hall and her son Gerald Watson II. Popular menu items include chicken & waffle sliders and ribs. There is also live music and weekly comedy nights.
Detroit Seafood Market owner Kenny Akinwale spotted an opportunity when a Harmonie Park restaurant called the Detroit Fish Market closed down six years ago. He quickly bought the business, renamed it and launched his dream. Today, the restaurant employs a little more than 60 people and rakes in $3 million in revenue.