4 Things You Need to Know About Detroit’s Eastern Market

Each week, thousands flock to Eastern Market to enjoy one of the most authentic urban adventures in the United States. The market, and the adjacent district, are rare finds in a global economy – a local food district with more than 250 independent vendors and merchants processing, wholesaling and retailing food. Learn more on this unique market via Joanna Dueweke of The Awesome Mitten

Most people are familiar with the bustling farmers market that overtakes Eastern Market each Saturday morning. It is the location of an enduring art scene, growing restaurant  district, and burgeoning retail location. It’s difficult to create an exhaustive list of everything going on in the market because things are always changing, events are always happening and locals are always full of surprises. In fact, Eastern Market is probably one of the only places in Detroit that doesn’t get much sleep. Monday through Friday, the wholesale market starts at midnight and runs until 6 a.m., supplying restaurants and consumers alike that are interested in buying bulk produce.

Markets aside, Eastern Market offers Detroiters, tourists and people from the region a place to celebrate the city’s legacy. Compiled here is just a few of the exciting things you can find at one of the oldest and largest year-round markets in the United States.

Multiple sheds make up the Eastern Market Corporation’s complex, but there is more to the district than just the markets that happen throughout the week.

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke.

1. Art is for Everybody

In the fall of 2015, Eastern Market Corporation, 1xRun and Inner State Gallery worked together to bring over 45 local and international artists to paint large-scale murals throughout the district for ‘Murals in the Market’. For people that have visited Eastern Market before, it is obvious that outdoor art is integral to the culture of the market’s landscape. However, Murals in the Market offered a unique opportunity for businesses and arts supporters to sponsor an individual piece from their favorite artist. Now, the art is a lasting reminder of the collective investment in the market and those that use it as a place of commerce, a place to live, and a place to play.

 

Murals (left to right) created by Ouizi (adopted by Sara Boyd) and Ryan Doyle, both presented by 1xRun and owned by Sweiss Imports.

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke.

2. Food That’s Prepared for You

Eastern Market is absolutely known for its produce and meat markets, but it is also known for and gaining traction with the restauranteurs and their avid followers. Although many of these places have been in the market for years, there are a couple newcomers that are rounding out the district’s offerings:

Bert’s Warehouse

Almost as iconic as Eastern Market itself, Bert’s Warehouse is a popular jazz bar and soul food restaurant that doubles as a concert venue. Bert Dearing, owner of Bert’s Warehouse, has been around for the last 29 years and has seen the many changes of Detroit first-hand. Make sure you check out the ribs, jazz, and other great events that happen in the theater!

Bert’s Warehouse is a great place to find BBQ on Saturdays during the farmers’ market. They have a full lineup of jazz and other musical acts on the weekends.

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke

La Rondinella

Recently, La Rondinella joined the Eastern Market family offering northern Italian fare for very reasonable prices. As an ode to his family’s heritage, Dave Mancini, owner of Supino Pizzeria, is creating an amazing experience for market-goers. Now, Eastern Market visitors have their choice of some of the tastiest pizza in Detroit next door to some of the tastiest Italian in the city.

La Rondinella is new to the Eastern Market team, but is already wowing people with an excellent food and wine menu joined by a superb lineup of craft drinks

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke

Cutter’s Bar and Grille

Name for the meat cutters that opened the bar, Cutter’s is a staple in Eastern Market that’s often overlooked. Although it might look like your average Detroit dive bar from the outside, the bar offers some of the best burgers around. It’s a little off the beaten path, but this is a spot to check out any day of the week for great food and awesome drinks in a relaxed atmosphere. Another bonus is that this spot is a great stop while visitors explore the many murals nestled throughout the district.

It’s an unassuming exterior, but the mouthwatering burgers and happy hour menu are not to be missed.

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke

Russell Street Deli

Known for its delicious sandwiches and fantastic soups that are now being sold as wholesale items in places like Whole Foods, Russell Street Deli is an important stakeholder in the Eastern Market restaurant family. The business is now over 25 years old, and Ben Hall and Jason Murphy, owners of Russell Street, began as dishwashers in the 1990s. Customers can eat well knowing that Hall and Murphy care about their employees because they pay well over normal pay level for restaurant workers and work to provide benefits like healthcare and retirement plans.

Open for breakfast and lunch, Russell Street Deli is a great place to stop any day of the week in Eastern Market

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke

3. There’s More Than Just Food

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More and more, retail is becoming a part of the fabric that makes Eastern Market function. Interestingly, the juxtaposition of places like DeVries & Co 1887 and DETROIT VS EVERYBODY (DVE) proves just how multifaceted the district is in its offerings and its customers. Not only can shoppers find almost any cheese they might desire at historic DeVries, but they can also represent their love for the city at outfitters like DVE and Division Street Boutique where the infamous Detroit Hustles Harder shirts are sold. If that’s not enough, there are letterpress shops like Signal Return and Salt & Cedar offering paper goods and classes for aspiring artisans.

 

DeVries & Co. 1887 offers the nostalgia that visitors desire when exploring all that is historic in Eastern Market

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke

 4. Outdoor Adventures

Officially opened in 2009, the Dequindre Cut connects the Riverfront with Mack Avenue and travels through Eastern Market. Built atop the former Grand Trunk Railroad line, the trail is 20-feet wide providing room for pedestrians and bikers, and it is lined by street art commissioned by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. During the second phase of the project (connecting Gratiot to Mack Avenue), the Dequindre Cut passes through Eastern Market and is adjacent to the newly created Detroit Market Garden. A project of Greening Detroit with funding from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, the garden is a display of what can happen to a previously abandoned city block where stakeholders can learn how small-scale agriculture positively affects an urban environment.

Looking north, the Dequindre Cut is adjacent to the revitalized Detroit Market Garden and heads toward the growing bike thoroughfare

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke

What are your favorite “characters” of Eastern Market? Tell us in the comments below!

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A writer and editor for The Awesome Mitten for the last five years, Joanna Dueweke is a proud Detroit resident and Traverse City-expat. Although the beaches of Belle Isle will never compare to the shores of Lake Michigan, Joanna is happy to live and work in a city like Detroit. When she’s not creating content for The Awesome Mitten, Joanna is playing soccer in the Detroit City Futbol League, organizing any number of community events including Detroit SOUP, cheering on the Detroit Tigers, or enjoying what the city has to offer.

 

 

5 Reasons to Visit Frankenmuth This Summer

If you’re looking for family fun with a German twist, look no further than the Christmas town of Frankenmuth. Between water parks, small-town strolls and the world’s largest Christmas store, there’s so much to do in Michigan’s Little Bavaria.

Read more on five reasons to visit Frankenmuth this summer, courtesy of the Frankenmuth Convention and Visitors Bureau.

1. Outdoor adventure awaits you!

Frankenmuth has long been known for chicken and Christmas, and while we still have those things (see numbers 3 and 4), there’s also many opportunities for outdoor adventure, you just have to know where to find it. Zip line through the trees at Frankenmuth Adventure Park on a zip line & ropes course and then hit the water. Frankenmuth Outfitters offers kayak and paddleboard rentals right out of Heritage Park. Paddle along the scenic Cass River and take in the sights. If riding sounds more appealing, try the Bavarian Belle Riverboat cruise, a 150 passenger traditional paddlewheel style boat, or for a more intimate setting, sip wine and taste handmade chocolates on the Frankenmuth FunShips.

The Frankenmuth Adventure Park offers many fun and active challenges

Photo Courtesy of the Frankenmuth Convention and Visitors Bureau

2.Unique & Local Shopping

Summer is the perfect time to shop in Frankenmuth. Revel in the charming setting of the River Place Shops, with over 40 unique boutique style shops, located in the heart of downtown. Take in the Bavarian architecture, enjoy a wine tasting or sample homemade mouth-watering fudge. Be sure to wander up and down Main Street to take in the beautiful flowers spilling over from every hanging plant and garden while stopping in at the one of a kind stores.

3. Christmas in July… And All Year Round

Arguably one of the most popular U.S. holidays, skipping a trip to Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store, would be unheard of. Definitely plan on spending a couple hours there, and as founder Wally Bronner would say, “It’s free to enter, it may not be free to leave.”

Bronner's is a Christmas paradise all year-long

Photo Courtesy of Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland

4. Family Style Chicken Dinners

There is no way a top five list would be complete without including the world famous, all-you-can-eat chicken dinners from Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth. There is a reason why hundreds of thousands of people visit there each year.

World-famous chicken dinners can be found at Frankenmuth's Bavarian Inn

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler, Promote Michigan

5. #SeeFrankenmuth Photo Contest

We love seeing how our visitors discover Frankenmuth through photography. Now through July 31st, hashtag your Frankenmuth photos with #SeeFrankenmuth for a chance to win $100 in Frankenmuth Money or the Grand Prize of a two-night stay at the hotel of your choice* and $200 in Frankenmuth Money. There’s no better time to take a vacation to Frankenmuth. Click here for full contest details.

Now that you’re ready to visit Frankenmuth, be sure to visit Frankenmuth.org and try out the handy trip planner. It allows you to easily plan your trip and share your itinerary with the lucky friends and family you choose to bring.

Don't miss the chance to enter the #SeeFrankenmuth Photo Contest

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @trever_west

We cant wait to see you this summer in Michigan’s Little Bavaria!

What do you love most about Frankenmuth? Share with us by commenting below!

All in the Family: 4 of Michigan’s Iconic Multi-Generational Businesses

Father’s Day serves as a time to be with family and share memories of the past. In Michigan, we have many distinctive family-run companies which not only maintain their roots as historic businesses, but they are paying attention to current trends and looking to the future to thrive for new generations. Read more as Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan shares the history behind four multi-generational businesses.

1. Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island—First opened in 1887, this National Historic Landmark has been operated by the current family for 83 years. In the midst of the Great Depression in 1933, W. Stewart Woodfill (who was hired as a desk clerk in 1919) was the sole bidder to take the hotel out of receivership and preserve its place in history.

His nephew, R. D. (Dan) Musser Jr., began working at the hotel as a college student in 1951. In 1979, Dan and his wife, Amelia, purchased the seasonal property on America’s most noted island and began the task of redesigning both the interior and exterior spaces, with the help of architect Richard Boss and decorator Carleton Varney.

Grand Hotel is as iconic as any other destination in Michigan

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

Dan Musser III grew up in the family business—serving as kitchen assistant, bellman, bartender, bar manager, front desk clerk and manager, reservations manager and vice president, before being named President in 1989 and officially taking over the 390-room “Green Certified” hotel in 2011 (along with all the outlying properties: The Jewel Golf Course, The Gatehouse Restaurant, Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor, Jockey Club, Woods Restaurant, Cawthorne’s Village Inn and the new Grand Sushi which just opened this summer.

2. Schuler’s Restaurant, Marshall—In 1909, a young orphaned Albert Schuler (a name he acquired from a traveling butcher who took him in after his mother died and his father abandoned him) became an entrepreneur, building the foundation for what has become one of Michigan’s most noted restaurants in historic downtown Marshall.

Bert’s first business was a cigar shop, followed by a small café, hotel and restaurant. It was here that second-generation Winston “Win” Schuler and his brother, Albert Jr., brought national attention to the restaurant, with at one time nine locations around the state (and one in Indiana).

Shuler's Restaurant in Marshall is a local favorite

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

“While it was expected that I would follow in the footsteps of my father and grandfather, it was a path I was actually eager to take,” says third-generation owner Hans Schuler, who officially joined the business in 1959 and in 1970 became President of the company, purchasing it from his father upon his retirement in the 1980s.

Larry Schuler is the fourth-generation to work in the family business and serve as a leader in the state’s hospitality industry. He is currently the president of Schu’s Hospitality and is a consultant for The Henry Ford Museum & Institutions in Dearborn.

3. Stafford’s Hospitality, Petoskey Area—It could be said that Stafford Smith was born to be a hotelier in the Petoskey area. Although his family was from the downstate town of Albion, they were vacationing in Petoskey when he made his appearance into the world. Today, his name is synonymous with hospitality in this lakeshore region.

He was just 22 years old in April, 1961 when he purchased the Bay View Inn. Originally built in 1886, this charming vintage inn is Stafford’s flagship property nestled along the shores of Little Traverse Bay. The Pier Restaurant in downtown Harbor Springs became the next acquisition (1970), followed by the Earl Young-built Weathervane Restaurant in Charlevoix (1986), the Perry Hotel (pictured below) (1989), the Gallery (2007), the Crooked River Lodge in Alanson (2011) and the Draw Bridge Bistro in downtown Charlevoix (2014).

The Perry Hotel is one of Smith's many popular destinations

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

Stafford R. “Reg” Smith is the eldest child of Stafford Smith, and his wife of 55-years, Janice. He grew up in the business, having worked in nearly every capacity at the Inn. During the 1990s, Reg and his wife, Lori, together served as innkeepers at the Bay View Inn. Today, Reg is the Vice President of Hotels for Stafford’s Hospitality’s seven regional properties.

4. Zehnder’s, Frankenmuth—The first restaurant meals served in Frankenmuth were at the Exchange Hotel in 1856, just 11 years after the town’s founding. In 1928, William and Emilie Zehnder sold their 80-acre farm and borrowed the balance of the funds necessary for the $8,000 down payment to purchase the hotel. They opened on Mother’s Day, 1929 and on that first day served 312 guests, for just one dollar each.

The 1950s were a pivotal decade as the Zehnder family purchased the competition, the Fischer’s Hotel (where the community’s family-style chicken dinner originated), and named Tiny Zehnder as manager. Within a few years, Tiny suggested to the family that they remodel the building, adding character through Bavarian architecture. The entire family agreed and by 1959 the newly named Bavarian Inn opened with a grand celebration—the foundation to Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Festival, which is still celebrated to this day.

Zehnder's Restaurant is a must-visit when exploring Frankenmuth

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

Despite financial setbacks, the Zehnder family continued to invest in its businesses and community, helping to create an unquestionable pride in its German heritage. The successful transformation of Fischer’s Hotel to the Bavarian Inn helped to encourage other Frankenmuth property owners to develop what is now “Michigan’s Little Bavaria.”

Bavarian Inn continues to be a staple in Frankenmuth

Photo Courtesy of Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan

Today, the third generation of the Zehnder family are still currently involved in the day-to-day operations of their expanded businsses. The Bavarian Inn branch of the family (under the guidance of their 95-year-old matriarch, Dorothy Zehnder) oversees the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, the Bavarian Inn Lodge and the River Place Shops. The Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth branch operates the flagship Zehnder’s restaurant (America’s largest family restaurant), as well as The Fortress championship golf club, Zehnder’s Splash Village and a retail facility Zehnder’s Marketplace.

Michigan is home to many other generational family businesses, what are your favorites?

Dianna Stampfler is the president of Promote Michigan. She’s been an active supporter of the tourism industry since her first family vacation to Leelanau County at the age of three. Today, she is living her dream and resides in the Lake Michigan shoreline community of Petoskey.