Tag Archives: Cass Corridor

DETROIT: Cass Corridor, New & Improved !

16 Mar

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It’s hard to keep up with all the new businesses opening up in Detroit; it seems each day there’s another announcement about a soon-to-open bar, restaurant or shop. Today we are taking you to the dreaded Cass Corridor (ok, so it’s not so dreaded anymore) for an up-close look at some of latest additions to the vibrant Midtown neighborhood.

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The Jeep is parked on Cass across the street from our destination, I feed the parking meter, cross the street and duck into Thrift On The Avenue, which shares the building with La Feria. The attractive boutique is well-organized and laid out in an easy-to-shop fashion. The clothing is lovely; formal dresses for women, work and casual wear, button-up shirts for men, slacks, jackets and lots of shoes. Everything is in great condition. Accessories include ties, handbags, scarves and a fun selection of new socks.This resale shop is a great addition to the neighborhood. We exit the front door, round the corner and follow the sign pointing to Galerie Camille. Inside, white walls soar upward to the open ceiling, leftover metal work from the former car wash is also painted white, adding a bit of dimension to the space. The current exhibit is TRANSITIONS, it features the work of two Detroit-based artists: Brian Day and William Harris. Wall space alternates black and white photographs and large paintings, benches invite visitors to stay awhile. Two smaller galleries reside off to the side, each is filled with wonderful artwork in a variety of mediums. Exhibits change often, so stop in frequently.

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Up the street a little is Art Loft, a shop that carries home accents, functional gifts, handmade items from local artists, Michigan goods, high-end items from Alessi, Michael Graves, Philippe Starck, pieces from Cape Town South Africa, art work, watches, tiles and the softest sheets you’ve ever touched. White shelving lines teal walls; colorful, shiny pieces grab my attention, there’s lots to see. Candles, jewelry, room spray and K Bell socks; this is the kind of shop you go to when you are looking for something unique.

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On the other side of Cass, the old Curl Up And Dye salon is now JoyRide Detroit, a group of rotating pop-up shops. Organized by Jennifer Willemsen, she works with start-ups while selling her own Cass Brand Organics. Just inside the door Artsy Fart fills their space with brightly colored animation, apparel art and toys. Next to that, The Sisters Triforia offer curated pieces of jewelry, clothing, both handmade and curated. I like the hand-burned wood earrings. Check out the mixed tapes by local bands. TJ’s Sweet Repeats sells vintage clothing, hats, bags, shoes and jewelry, I’ve always been a fan of old hat boxes, they have them too. Around the corner Purple Love has decked out their space in, well, purple. A slender vanity displays beautiful necklaces and earrings, an open drawer reveals bold statement necklaces, black velvet ‘necks’ wear necklaces of stone, rhinestone and pearls, items are handmade and handpicked.

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We make a quick stop at Shinola’s Midtown dog park on Cass and Canfield, it’s in the 60’s today, perfect for dogs to run around with their playmates. Little dogs congregate in the small yard while Huskies, Retrievers and Shepard’s chase each other in the big yard. Owners are clustered in groups catching up on the latest goings-ons, kids play fetch with their furry friends. Time to eat, we are having lunch at the new Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Brewz.

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The 88 seat diner is fabulously kitschy, from the button and tuck booths, to the metallic gold, red and blue vinyl bar stools to the cool vintage black and white Detroit photo plastered to the back wall; you wouldn’t know this was the old Marwill Bookstore. A walk-up counter lines the left side of the space, menus hang across the kitchen wall, now all you have to do is make a decision…. Sweet Lorraine’s is known for her Mac n’ Cheez, in addition to the classic you can choose from more than a dozen combinations. Don’t overlook the Healthy Wraps and Salad Bowls. Did I mention they serve beer and spirits too? So, what’s not to like? We are dining on Pepperoni Pizza Mac: classic Mac with pepperoni, pizza sauce and pepper jack cheese–Delicious! The Malibu Chicken & Bacon Wrap is roasted chicken, bacon, spinach, dried cranberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and ranch dressing all rolled up tight, really good. With so many more combinations to try, we’ll be back.

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We travel up Cass to the Detroit Carhartt Company store just south of 94. Guess what? We’re still in the same parking zone, with time left on the meter, we can park right in front of the store. Carhartt was founded in Detroit in 1889 by Hamilton Carhartt. Hamilton discovered there was a strong need in the market for high quality workwear, specifically for railroad workers; remember at that time our nation was experiencing an industrial boom. His first product was a heavy-duty overall garment, he traveled from town to town visiting railroad yards, introducing them to his garments; he acquired a loyal following and a reputation for durable, rugged apparel. The iconic Carhartt Chore Coat was introduced in 1923 and is largely unchanged to this day.

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The company store is housed in a gorgeous 1928 Art Deco building, local Detroit artists, the Golden Sign Company, painted the mural on the wall facing I-94. Inside, the store is a blend of old and new; reclaimed wood came from houses in Detroit, sepia colored photos are intermixed with current ones. Here traditional items such as the chore coat, overalls, coveralls and work boots share space with casual clothing for men and women, t-shirts and outdoor gear. Carhartt still maintains a Made In The USA line, items are made in Kentucky and Tennessee and can be purchased here or at The Detroit Mercantile Co. The business continues to be run by the 5th generation of the Carhartt family. With all of these new places, you have even more reasons to spend time in Detroit. 






Dally In The Alley, Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine

21 Sep

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The Dally In The Alley street fair is a celebration of life in the Cass Corridor. It takes place annually the Saturday following Labor Day and is the longest running neighborhood festival in Detroit, once you attend you will see why!  The Dally is a bit quirky and eclectic, it has an energy all its own as it spreads out through the streets and alleys sandwiched between Second and Third and Forest and Hancock. There’s a little bit of everything; Politics and religion, artists and makers of handcrafted items, food from local restaurants, beer, vintage goods, and merchandise from local vendors. If you are in the market for a Detroit t-shirt, look no further, there are dozens of different styles.You can talk to a Master Gardener, or take your children to the kids space in a grassy backyard where they can create their own works of art. The environment itself is cool and unusual; I find the alleyways just as interesting as the street side of the neighborhood, an old brick garage rests behind the homes looking much like it did in the late 1800’s.

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The main focus is music; with 183 submissions this year and only 43 slots to fill the bands were amazing! Four stages featuring local musicians play everything from Electronic to Folk with the emphasis on Rock, music runs  from noon until 11pm. Balconies of surrounding historic buildings are packed with people hanging out listening to the music, groups of friends catch up with each other standing in an alley way drinking ice-cold beer out of clear plastic cups,tiny dogs poke their heads out of shoulder bags looking to see what all the excitement is about, I just love this festival. Organized by North Cass Community Union, a non-profit group working to prevent urban removal of gracious historic buildings;there are no corporate sponsors, the cultural diversity is dynamic, the mix of attendees wide ranging.The later you arrive the more crowded it becomes, we try to get their when it opens and by the time we leave it’s packed. Dally does a great job showcasing what makes Detroit unique, one of my favorite t-shirts there said: “Detroit is the next Detroit”

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The city was alive; Dally in the Alley draws a good crowd and the Detroit Tigers were playing at home, we needed to eat somewhere that parking wouldn’t be too difficult. Vicente’s  over on Library was our best bet, we hadn’t been in a while so it was a good choice all around. The interior has a great Havana feeling to it; light-colored walls with large paintings, wood plank flooring, and a dance floor in the middle. Every Friday and Saturday night they offer Salsa lessons, afterward you can practice your new moves right there on the dance floor. This family owned restaurant opened in 2005 and was one of the first places in the metro area to offer authentic Cuban cuisine. The menu is extensive; Tapas, Entrees, Sandwiches, and a killer Sangria, it’s hard to decide. The Chilean chef does a wonderful job capturing the flavors of Cuba. We had the Cubano Grande Sandwich, so, good; pressed perfectly the meat was warm, the cheese gooey, the pickles crisp and all the flavors were melded together. The Cuban pepper salad was delicious, the vegetables were fresh with a nice crunch and it is topped with a tasty vinaigrette. The fried sweet plantains were some of the best we’ve had. 

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The warm temperatures beckoned us to take a jaunt around the neighborhood. Just a short distance away in what is referred to as Harmonie Park is a cozy little park that pays tribute to Detroit’s own Paradise Valley. Trees line the length of the park on both sides, a few stairs lead you down to the seating area where you can relax to the sound of a waterfall passing over a stone wall. Photos are inlaid on the concrete depicting the notable people and buildings that populated the area. We were sitting a relaxing when a traveling BBQ arrived! Yes, a man riding a full size black tricycle mounted a small drum-style bbq to the back of his bike, with a shelf for a cooler below. He was joined by a friend with a portable stereo mounted on his bicycle, and a few more friends came along to enjoy the food and music. It was really cool, a party-in-the-making on 3 wheels.

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We wandered a little further and stopped off at Spectacles, a funky little boutique on Grand River. Selling up-to-the-minute styles of T-shirts, hats, and accessories along with CD’s and books it’s a fun place to do a little shopping. Within walking distance you will find a few other shops and restaurants, along with the Harmonie Building. Built in 1895 the buff colored Harmonie Building is home to an art gallery on the first floor. Take a peek inside; the rich dark-colored wood and ornate plaster welcome you.The gallery rotates exhibits so there is always something new to see. Located about half-way between Greektown and the stadiums it’s a great area to explore.

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