Tag Archives: Germack Coffee

DETROIT: Eastern Market After Dark

31 Oct

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When you think of Eastern Market, you probably picture fresh produce, rows of flowers, vendors selling baked goods, cheese, pickles and salsa. There is another side to the market you might not be so familiar with; artist studios, galleries, boutiques, hacker spaces, eateries and creative spaces. At night the market takes on a completely different personality, it feels mysterious, like some secret underground world……. Tonight we will explore all of this and more, it is Eastern Market After Dark. It is a warmer than usual Thursday evening, people have flocked to the market for a series of events including Third Thursday’s, Detroit Design Festival and a AIA Membership party, with so much to see and do we better get going…..

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We begin the evening on Gratiot Ave, there has been a bevy of activity in recent months, buildings have been renovated, new businesses have moved in, with more on the way. Inner State Gallery is our first stop, the first floor has been transformed into a wonderful gallery space; walls are white, bold, framed pieces cover the length of the furthest wall. We meander through smaller sections, each featuring a different artist and style, a tiny section gleaming in light from funky fixtures made of plain old cardboard. Exhibits rotate frequently inviting visitors to stop in often. Service Street runs narrowly behind this section of buildings, tonight it has come alive with pedestrians, balloons and activity. Jesse Knott is hard at work preparing tasty dishes on an oversized grill, it smells delicious! We walk over to the folding table that serves as a display for menu items and place our order. Within minutes we are handed three cardboard baskets filled with tasty items; the Inca dog is a veggie dog topped with quinoa chili, cheddar, mustard and shallot, you’ll never miss the meat. The Roast Pork Quesadilla is outstanding; moist, tender pork, green chili sauce, cilantro and muenster cheese grilled to perfection. The BBQ Lentil Slider is a lentil patty, lava sauce, mayo, cheddar and romaine on toast, excellent. 

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Strolling further down Service Street we notice a door is ajar, a sign summons us up to the second floor of an old furniture warehouse, here we find Cyberoptix Tie Lab. Their tag line is “Ties that don’t suck”, they don’t! Beautiful, creative designs are available in a rainbow of colors and designs. Bethany Shorb and her team hand-print and heat set every single tie and scarf they sell; printed on silk or microfiber, designs include Detroit themes, botanicals, peacock feathers, circuit boards etc. etc. Tall windows overlook Gratiot, we are free to roam through the work area, ties and scarves are arranged throughout the studio on tables, draped over luggage and in baskets. With the holidays approaching, keep this place in mind for unique gift giving. Adjoining Cyberoptix is the NNII International Gallery, the artwork is diverse, colorful, interesting. The studio is sectioned off with cool pieces of furniture and sitting areas, we really liked the automotive themed pieces. Back outside, heading towards the end of the block, we stumble upon a great courtyard, walls are covered in murals, a black circular fireplace rests near the center, picnic tables and a grill are ready to entertain. We round the corner and are back on Gratiot, the door is open to a building we’ve always admired. For years we have driven by this slender Art Nouveau beauty with the smoked glass windows wondering what it is like inside, tonight we found out. The main floor has been re-worked over the years, the second floor still retains much of its nouveau charm, it is used as a creative and meeting space by Trans-Love Energies. Dark has fallen, the lights of the city gleam in the distance, across the street the top two stories of a historic building has come alive with colors as images are projected onto it. In front of us a giant American flag shrouds a storefront and  billows in the night breeze.

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Back in the market area Omni Corp Detroit has opened its doors to the public. Deemed a space for hackers and makers, at any given time you can find designers, artists, engineers and musicians hard at work on both floors of the building. Inside we are greeted by 2-wheeled modes of transportation; bicycles, mopeds and mini-bikes are parked for the evening. Two varieties of kilns are tucked into a corner along with an air compressor, random tools lay about. Upstairs colorful lanterns create a party-like atmosphere, work tables and machines are still, shelving is stacked with unfinished projects. A sizable window provides us with a vast view of the market area, there isn’t a parking space to be found in the area, the Detroit skyline glows in the distance-what a sight. Thursday nights are Open Hacknights, sign up to learn how to hollow a book, create metal weavings, use a laser cutter, type set or get the skinny on tax auctions. Around the corner we pop into Red Bull House of Art, with just a couple of weeks left in this artist cycle, we wanted to check it out. As usual the art is fresh and intriguing, tonight the gallery is crowded with visitors. 

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Riopelle Street is home to a new pet shop called 3 Dogs, 1 Cat, the front of the shop is absolutely charming; french doors open onto the sidewalk, pots of Mums in full bloom are clustered on bales of hay and along the sidewalk, a table of puppy-sized Lions jersey’s and Halloween costumes rests near the door. The shop stocks a large variety of leashes, collars, toys and other goodies your four-legged friends would love to have. Tonight even the canines are enjoying themselves, pet lovers browse the store, leashes in hand, I can’t resist petting a few of the pups myself. Near the cash register an adorable black dog dressed up in bat wings greets shoppers as they pass, too cute! Salt & Cedar is one of two letterpress studios in Eastern Market, the shop is quaint, tonight the place is packed; on display is a series of posters and other items produced over the last year. Someone is doing a demonstration on a press, a crowd is gathering in the back of the building, I see wine glasses and a lovely table set for guests. Across the street is the newest business to call Riopelle home ARIA Urban Artifacts. Still in its early stages, the building is filled with two levels of old stuff; furniture, signs, luggage, some of it rusty, some of it re-purposed, it’s a fun place to look around.

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Walking through the shed area a group of food trucks has gathered, pedestrians are enjoying Mac and Cheese, Beignets and other goodies, The AIA is holding their membership party in Shed 3, blue LED lights radiate through the windows.  Collision Works First Container project is open, a shipping container has been re-purposed into a small hotel room space, the plan is to build a full 36-room boutique hotel in the near future. At Germack Coffee back on Russell a band performs street-side, we grab a couple of iced coffees and go back outside to enjoy the music. 

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We decide to extend the night with a visit to the Fountain Bistro at Campus Martius. Taking a table on the patio, our view is spectacular; surrounding skyscrapers light up the night sky, directly in front of us the fountain shoots streams of water high into the air, the Soldiers and Sailors monument stands guard. We order the charcuterie plate from the bar menu and a couple of cocktails. We nibble on fancy crackers, thinly sliced hams, salami and tapenade, folks wander about, trying to get that perfectly timed photo of the fountain, all of us enjoying the amazing things Detroit has to offer.

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DETROIT: 3rd Thursday

27 Apr

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As the art scene continues to grow at an astonishing rate in Detroit there is an increasing number of cool things to do most any night of the week. Tonight is the 3rd Thursday of the month, Art Detroit Now has  big plans for the evening; a combination of contemporary art, amazing artists and extraordinary venues; let’s go! We arrive at the Pioneer Building on East Grand Blvd, years ago we heard that it had been turned into studio spaces for artists, we’ve always wanted to check it out, tonight we finally get our chance. We park alongside the building, rain is coming down in buckets, we make a dash for the door. Inside, we grab a studio floorplan, we hear voices nearby and use them as a guide to find the first studio. Spaces come in all shapes and sizes, often larger studios are shared by two or more artists. The first one we enter is a small, cozy space, completed pieces dot the walls, the smell of paint thinner and oil paint hang heavy in the air, music plays quietly in the background. After we  look around we proceed back down the hall, pieces of art from studio tenants grace every wall, the work is fantastic. We meander in and out of first floor studios; styles range from striking to serene, colors cover the gamut from subtle to intense. We are greeted warmly by Joan Farago, for the last two years she’s had pieces in Art Prize in Grand Rapids; it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to talk about her art and Detroit’s continually expanding art scene.

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We climb the stairs to the second floor and then the third, the structure feels solid, indestructible in the way only old buildings do. The wood plank floor is quiet and easy on my feet, huge load bearing  beams are made of wood, remnants of its early history are still visible. Built in 1908 by the Trippensee brothers, the building was originally used to manufacture enclosed bodies for Buick and Ford. In the early 1920’s it was the home of Rickenbacker Motor Co. It spent most of its days as a manufacturing facility, in 1960 Pioneer Office Products took it over. In 1994 the building was purchased and renovated by the current owners who turned it into 29 distinct studio spaces complete with large windows and fantastic industrial views.

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We wander into studio # 303, Birgit Huttemann-Holz stands off to the side as we admire her work. A large table sits central in the space, on it are jars of what appears to be hardened wax, open containers of powdered pigment represent every color of the rainbow. She approaches us, I compliment her work.  She explains  that she does not use paint, that each piece is ‘painted’ with beeswax. Having never heard of this she sees she has piqued our interest and demonstrates the procedure, we are fascinated. She lights the blow-torch, yes, a blow torch, and completes the process, the beeswax gives the colors a luminescent look, as if you can peer right into them, absolutely stunning!

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We continue our journey through the Pioneer Building stopping into each open studio, hosts offer a variety of goodies; cookies, candy, even wine, we meet an array of interesting folks. The back wall of Jeanne Biere’s studio is lined with vintage black and white photos, as we draw closer we realize that they are not photos, but paintings of photos, each image is captured perfectly. Teresa Petersen  creates art from found objects, her collages use vintage items, they are whimsical and fun.   The building is generally not open to the public with the exception of 3rd Thursday. If you can’t make it down on a Thursday, write this down, on the first Saturday of October they host the annual Artist Open Studios, an open house of sorts complete with food and live music; you are welcome to come in, tour the building, meet the artists and purchase their work. It’s already on my calendar!

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Having spent way more time than expected at the Pioneer we can no longer ignore our hunger. Since there are more activities  going on in Eastern Market we head to Supino Pizza for a quick dinner. We place our order at the counter and have a seat at one of the smaller tables, I love the homey feel of the place; black and white checkered floors, community tables and quirky art formed from ordinary items. Kris sets our drinks on the table just as the house salad arrives, that was fast. We douse the tender greens in the house made lemon basil citronette, delicious. Our pizza arrives just as we finish off the salad, a tasty combination of pepperoni, mushrooms, green pepper and a kick of spice melded together by gooey mozzarella.

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We dodge the raindrops once again as we head down Russell Street to Germack Coffee, open until 10pm for the occasion, they have live music tonight.  The Chili Mexican is my favorite drink, but tonight I want something warm; I order a cappuccino, unfazed by the weather Kris asks for an iced coffee with a splash of  house made vanilla simple syrup. Steven whips up our drinks, we move to the back of the shop where the music is set to start. A trio by the name of The  Marble Fauns, begins to play; two guitars, two women and one man, their music would probably be described as folk, I would call it old-time folk. Voices blend beautifully in simple harmonies, the music, uncomplicated tunes are played effortlessly. The girls do most of the singing, after a little coaxing the guy agrees to do a number where his voice is showcased, he’s great! Drinking my coffee and listening to the music I feel like I could sit here for hours. I can’t wait for the next 3rd Thursday.

DETROIT: Just Wandering…….

4 Jun

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We started the day off with no plan in mind, just wandering around the city in search of a smile; we knew she wouldn’t let us down . I had gardens on the mind, what better place to start than the Belle Isle Conservatory? There was a definite liveliness outside the building as workers set up chairs for an afternoon wedding, lucky them, they had a perfect day! We took a stroll up and down the rows of gardens; Peonies in varying shades of pinks and reds were in full bloom. Tall spikes of  Lupine in rose, white and blue reached skyward; giant Allium joined them. Irises in multiple varieties added color to the landscape, orange Oriental Poppies were dazzling. The lawn was green and lush, borders of shrubs separate the rows. We walked through an opening in the shrubs to the center of the garden; here we were delighted to see Marshall Fredericks (think: Spirit of Detroit) Leaping Gazelle fountain up and running again. I love this piece! The elegant gazelle is surrounded by an otter, goose, hawk and a rabbit, the four of them native to Michigan. I read that this was the first commissioned work for which Marshall Frederick was paid; it’s lovely.  After we walked through the conservatory we headed out to the Lily pond; this is such a peaceful area. We walked around the pond, stopping at the far end to watch the fish swim around, very relaxing. Volunteers do a wonderful job keeping the pond and grounds looking great.

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Across from the conservatory  there are a series of greenhouses run by the Agriscience students of the Golightly Career and technical Center in Detroit. 10th and 11th grade students who join this urban agriculture program spend a half day, each day, for two years learning about vegetable and flower production, environmental education, food safety and nutrition, sustainability and market sales and services. We noticed a flurry of people and activity over at the greenhouses, we walked over to take a look. It was Friday, they were busy preparing for their annual plant sale scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. With permission,  we were able to walk through the greenhouses; aisles of perennials, annuals, herbs and heirloom tomatoes all ready to be sold. Volunteers were busy placing name tags and prices in the appropriate pots. I saw beautiful Foxglove, Coral Bells and daylilies. Flats of Petunias perfumed the air, Marigolds, Dahlias and Geraniums wait to be planted. It was fun to have a chance to go inside and poke around.

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We had made up our mind to have lunch at Green Dot Stables on West Lafayette; only opened for a short time it has already become quite popular. This horse-race-themed establishment serves a variety of sliders, fries and sides, all right around three bucks each. Newly refurbished, the interior has red brick walls and wood floors; it has a sort of retro feel to me. Two of three televisions had live horse racing on, while the third had soccer; photos of jockey’s adorn the walls. The menu is simple and straightforward, Sliders are served on Detroit’s own Browns Buns and come in an array of choices: Corned Beef, Lamb, Catfish, Shredded Pork to name a few along with traditional and Mystery Meat. French Fries are the super skinny type; crisp and delicious; these are also available in an assortment of ways: Cajun, Ranch, Truffle and Herb and our choice of  malt vinegar. For the ease of ordering we asked our waitress to bring us one of each of the first five sliders on the menu; that makes life easy, next time we get the next five…..The food arrived swiftly; each of the burgers comes in its own little cardboard dish garnished with pickle slices. We cut them in half and dug in; each had its own unique flavor, the combinations of meat and toppings very tasty, the traditional as good or better than any  I’ve ever had. Next time I have to remember to save room for dessert: a Smore Slider; cinnamon, Nutella and marshmallow fluff served on a bun, sounds good doesn’t it?

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We made a stop at Germack Coffee Shop in Eastern Market, after our caffeine fix we headed back outdoors to check out all  the goings-on in preparation for Flower Day.  North of the market The Detroit Mercantile Co was getting ready for their grand opening the following morning. The door was slightly ajar, the owner in view; we asked if we might get a sneak peek in the store, without hesitation we were welcomed in. What a cool store! Seriously, this place is great. The shop carries a little bit of everything; vintage and new items, clothing, gifts, music, souvenirs, even new bikes from the Detroit Bicycle Company. The owner is enthusiastic about carrying products made locally,we’re all for that ! The displays are eye-catching, you want to look everywhere at once, then you want to buy everything….. The mix of old and new really works well together, the owners passion for Detroit is clearly visible. I can tell we will be regular shoppers here.  

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