March 16, 2018

Last call for Farouk | Eastern Market ice cream shop adds crepes pop-up | Food trucks kick off season with Irish flair (Crain’s Detroit Business) »

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A weekly roundup of local food, drink and restaurant news

Joe Vaughn via Rattlesnake Club

Farouk Elhaje tended bar in Detroit for 58 years.

A weekly roundup of local food, drink and restaurant news.

Last call for bartender Farouk

Longtime restaurant regulars and well-known alumni of some of Detroit’s most iconic restaurants are invited to raise a glass, reminisce and swap stories about beloved Detroit bartender, Farouk Elhaje, at memorial celebration at the Rattlesnake Club on Thursday.

Elhaje died March 2 at age 80, according to a news release from the Rattlesnake Club.

In addition to Elhaje’s bartending skills, customers enjoyed his stories about famous clientele, including Barbra Streisand, Walter Cronkite, Lee Iacocca, President George W. Bush, Detroit Mayor Coleman Young and many others. Elhaje once won a local Kentucky Derby-themed celebrity contest for the best mint julep outside the Bluegrass State.

Elhaje’s 58-year career began when iconic Detroit restaurateur Lester Gruber put him behind the bar at the Caucus Club after a short stint as dishwasher. Soon after, Elhaje became the bartender at Gruber’s famed London Chop House for 29 years before moving to The Rattlesnake Club for another 29 years.

“Farouk has been the patriarch of The Rattlesnake Club family since its inception,” Robert Sereno, general manager of The Rattlesnake Club, said in the release. “His regulars always greeted him with a jubilant ‘Hey, Farouk!’ and he would affectionately reply, ‘The bar’s closed!’ Farouk loved his career, never wanted to retire and worked until the day before he died. He will be deeply missed.”

The “Last Call for Farouk” celebration is set for 5-8 p.m. Thursday. Admission is free, but reservations are requested. Call (313) 567-4400, email or sign up on restaurant’s Facebook events page.

Eastern Market ice cream shop adds crepes pop-up

Mootown via Facebook
Mootown Ice Cream & Dessert Shoppe in Eastern Market will offer ice cream floats made with Faygo pop.

Mootown Ice Cream & Dessert Shoppe in Eastern Market on Friday will celebrates its grand opening with Megan Lewis as the new owner.

The event begins at noon and will also feature crepes from pop-up The French Cow.

Lewis, also the operations manager at DeVries & Co. in Eastern Market, purchased the business last July and spent the winter updating the space and revising the menu. Physical updates include new paint, changed seating and new tables.

Edible cookie dough is one of new additions on the menu, along with Faygo items including ice cream floats and a larger dessert selection. The French Cow will continue to pop up as scheduling allows.

The coffee offerings have been updated as well with “decadent, locally-roasted offerings from Coffee Express,” Lewis said.

Mootown is at 2461 Russell St., Detroit.

Food trucks kick off new season

Downtown Detroit Partnership
Downtown Street Eats food trucks return to downtown Detroit starting Friday.

The Downtown Detroit Partnership begins a new season of its Downtown Street Eats food truck program at 11 a.m. Friday.

In a nod to St. Patrick’s Day, the season begins with Irish-themed food and fun at four parks and public spaces: Cadillac Square, The Woodward Esplanade, Spirit of Detroit Plaza and Beacon Park. Each location will offer a twist on an Irish-inspired dish or two, including Irish whiskey wings from SoupDive and stout-braised short ribs by Hero or Villain.

Rounding out the day’s festivities are two performances by nationally-recognized Flanagan-O’Hare School of Irish Dance of Bloomfield Hills in Cadillac Square and Spirit of Detroit Plaza. Visitors should also keep an eye out for costumed folks giving away chocolate coins and snapping selfies.

The Downtown Street Eats program attracts 2,500 hungry patrons every weekday in spring and summer months and features more than 75 trucks and cuisines, the Downtown Detroit Partnership said in a news release.

For a schedule and more details, visit

Siren Hotel gets a Williams’ touch

Kate Williams via Facebook

Detroit chef Kate Williams will run the Candy Bar and Karl’s in the new Siren Hotel in downtown Detroit.

Detroit Chef Kate Williams of Lady of the House in Corktown is adding her culinary creativity to the soon-to-open Siren Hotel downtown. Williams will handle the second-floor, all-day restaurant, Karl’s, as well as bar snacks at Candy Bar in the hotel lobby, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Williams left Republic about three years ago and opened Lady of the House last fall.

The Candy Bar is to open at the of this month with Karl’s opening in late summer or early fall.

As Crain’s reported, the Siren Hotel is project of real estate developer ASH NYC, which is undertaking a $22 million build-out of the 14-story, 55,000-square-foot space in the former Wurlitzer building at 1509 Broadway St. It is to begin a soft opening later this month, the Free Press said.

El Barzon owners open La Noria Bistro

The owners of Mexican-Italian restaurant El Barzon in southwest Detroit have opened their sister restaurant La Noria Bistro.

The new spot also blends Mexican and Italian cuisine, but in a more casual setting. It offers lunch and dinner menu items including wood-fired thin-crust pizza, tacos and sandwiches and has a full bar.

La Noria Bistro is at 5517 Michigan Ave., Detroit.

A lucky day for restaurateurs

A new study by Womply Inc. reveals that St. Patrick’s Day is surprisingly good to small, local restaurants in Michigan.

The data science team at Womply analyzed transactions at 26,000 independent eateries in all 50 states for every day of the 2017 calendar year to get a full view of consumer behavior. One timely finding: St. Patrick’s Day is the fourth-best holiday of the year for small, local restaurants in Michigan, ranking ahead of Valentine’s Day, the Super Bowl and more.

A few details about how the average local restaurant in Michigan fares on St. Paddy’s Day:

  • Total sales increase by 32 percent
  • Michigan restaurants see 56 transactions instead of the usual 41
  • Average ticket is basically flat at $32

As a result, only Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve and Cinco De Mayo are better holidays for the bottom line at local restaurants in Michigan.

Womply provides customer engagement software to small businesses. The company was founded in 2011 and is based in San Francisco.

— Crain’s Detroit Business News Editor Beth Valone contributed to this report.

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