DETROIT: Eastern Market: Always Growing…

15 Jul

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It’s Saturday, the two of us will be joining the estimated 45,000 people who head to Detroit’s Eastern Market on any given Saturday in the summer; the nation’s largest historic public market has been at this location since 1891.There have been many changes to the 4.5 acre district over the last 100-plus years; long-standing businesses have been handed down through generations–new businesses have popped up on Russell, Division, Riopelle and other streets in the district, sheds have been upgraded with roll-up doors and heat. More and more people continue to discover the charm, vitality and community feeling that is Eastern Market; it’s Detroit’s history and its future.

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Russell Street is a beehive of activity; ribs are cooking over an open fire in front of Bert’s, cars roll slowly in search of parking, shoppers are loaded down with flats of strawberries and hanging flower baskets as they sip on a cold beverage and munch on tasty free samples. We begin our visit at Shed 5, after much work and great anticipation the shed officially re-opened in May. There’s a new fully licensed, rentable community kitchen; people considering opening a food-based business can use the space to try out their idea before committing to a brick and mortar shop. The kitchen also hosts cooking classes and demonstrations. The Kid Rock Commons is a 2,000 sq ft indoor gathering space next to the community kitchen that can be rented out for private meetings, events and parties. Roll up doors have been installed on both sides, today a lovely cross breeze keeps us cool, heated cement floors are sure to make those January visits more comfortable. I linger at a booth selling Hydrangeas; fragrant ball-shaped clusters cover the leafy shrubs.

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Outside we follow the covered walkway taking in flats of annuals that have long outgrown  the tray, herbs are tall and ready for harvest, Asiatic lilies create a sea of yellow; bargains are everywhere. Kelsey Rose is tap dancing on a sheet of plywood in an open area, a talented young lady accompanies her on the violin, dollar bills are tossed into a jar. As we proceed through the market we encounter more buskers; a xylophone player serenades us with Tiki-inspired tunes, a guitar player sings and plays the harmonica, music fills the air at every turn. Fresh Michigan greens are bountiful today, radishes are huge, we sample goat cheese, beef jerky and Ingrams Fine Candies, I think I need to buy one of those hanging terrariums…. 

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Next we arrive at Motorless City Bicycle Co. on the East Fisher Freeway service drive; new to the market district they seem to be doing quite well. Bicycles line one side of the showroom wall, brands include Fuji, Civia, State, Surly and Detroit Bikes–don’t see something that suits you? They have their own fabrication facility on-site. This is a full service bicycle shop; they offer repair service, parts and accessories. Bicycles are becoming more than a form of recreation in the city, they are transportation; bicycle racks are a common sight in front of restaurants and shops. Have you heard of Detroit Bike Polo?

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Over on Gratiot a cluster of brick buildings have recently found new life; restaurants and galleries have given folks reason to explore this part of the market district. We’re here to have brunch at Trinosophes, a coffee shop/performance/event space contained in a quaint red-brick building with large Gratiot-facing windows. The interior is huge! An assortment of tables sits atop terazzo floors; there’s a coffee bar, lending library and cozy seating areas. We take a seat and get right to business ordering, my iced americano arrives in record speed, a splash of cream sweetens it ever so slightly–don’t you love the way it looks as the cream makes its way through the espresso to the bottom of the glass? Oh how I love coffee… We choose one sweet and one savory dish from the menu to split, Kris goes straight for the sweet: 3 corn cakes rest atop thick puddles of lemon curd, a fresh blueberry compote is spooned over top, buttermilk whipped cream crests the plate, a sprinkle of praline adds just the right amount of crunch. It’s important to get a little bit of everything on your fork, a bite of heaven! The breakfast sandwich is the perfect mix of savory ingredients; a homemade biscuit is split and filled with a fried egg, peppery bacon, house made dill pickle slices and leaf lettuce, yum. Watermelon slices are a nice touch. You can stop in for brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm, selections change weekly. Check out the website for all the action taking place at Trinosophes.

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Our stomachs are full our appetites satisfied. We pop into the adjoin space where People’s Records maintains the Michigan Audio Heritage Society Museum. The sunny space is a record lovers paradise; walls are speckled with old black and white photos, vintage album covers and newspaper clippings, 45’s, LP’s and 78’s fill crates and cubbies. Lyman Woodard is the featured artist today; a bulletin board displays hand-written checks signed by Woodard, a handbill, t-shirt and items of recognition. A Detroit-based Jazz organist you might now him from his 1975 mega-hit Saturday Night Special. Woodard also did a number of recordings with drummer Melvin Davis and guitarist Dennis Coffey. It’s a pretty cool little place to check out, be sure to stop and look at the front window display of old record players turned planters. At the end of the block, multicolored bricks fill the space below front windows, an open door and a sandwich board invite us to visit Riopelle Collective. Shared by 5 artists, it is a collective of local artists and designers who work, collaborate and teach in the studio. Both finished pieces and works in progress are on display, the letterpress section is open and interesting to see; the studio is open to the public on Saturday from 9 am to 4:30 pm.

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It’s late afternoon, we decide to end the day with a cocktail from Detroit City Distillery back in the market area. They are celebrating Summer of Gin, who doesn’t like a celebration (or Gin)? Open for less than a year, the tasting room hides in a nonchalant building on Riopelle; a couple of half barrels are used as planters out front, a full barrel is mounted sideways to the building. Inside walls are exposed brick, the antique bar is softly illuminated by pendant lights, cabinets behind the bar are beautiful and old–mirrors on top, ice boxes on the bottom. Bottles of Detroit City Distillery Gin, Whiskey, Bourbon and Vodka glow on shelves behind the bar. Scanning the menu we each pick a cocktail, Drunk Yoga for Kris, Carpal Tinder Syndrome for myself. Both made with Gin we find them refreshing and delightful. DCD was founded by eight childhood friends that joined forces to create small-batch, artisanal spirits, they offer original cocktails along with classics like the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Gimlet and Moscow Mule. 

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2 Responses to “DETROIT: Eastern Market: Always Growing…”

  1. googiestyle@yahoo.com July 16, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    Hi Kris and Renee, Hope this finds your very well and having a great summer…it surely looks like it from your blogs! After the Eastern Market one, we are going to have to come back real soon! You guys write the best articles, with great photos- we love getting them…

    • detroitdvotion July 16, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

      Thanks Guys

      Glad you’re enjoying, both our cities are filled with amazing things!! C’mon back soon, plenty more to see!

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