Greedy Greg cooks up ribs, rib tips, and turkey legs outside of his home near McNichols and Gratiot on Detroit’s East Side. You might know him from his appearance on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown: Detroit. In the show, Bourdain and Charlie LeDuff stop by Greg’s barbecue stand to try the ribs and his famous sides of mac & cheese and collard greens made by his wife Rochelle. The episode focuses on the food–which is wonderful–and briefly describes Greg’s operation as, “Detroit-style entrepreneurship.”
What we learned after talking to Greg is that it is his dream to turn his DIY pop-up into a real business.
Greg Holmes was born in rural Louisiana where he learned how to cook from his Grandfather, who was a chef in the military. When he was nine years old, factories were offering jobs, so his family moved to Detroit for a better life.
“I always liked to eat, so I had to learn how to cook. I used to watch my grandfather cook all the time, and I used to say, ‘hey Grandad this food is really good.’ He taught me how to season everything and cook it right,” said Holmes.
Holmes isn’t exactly sure where Greedy Greg came from, but he suspects it was his Uncle Louis who always called him greedy because he liked to eat a lot. As a child he remembers giggling about the phrase, “Greedy Greg ate a green grape.”
Uncle Louis also noticed that Greg was an exceptionally good cook. After some hesitation on Greg’s part, Uncle Louis eventually convinced Greg to cook and sell dinners. He knew Greg’s food would be well received in the community, and it has been.
While we talked with Greg, we dug into the food. The rib tips were tender, slathered in barbecue sauce, and bursting with flavor. The slow-cooked turkey leg literally fell off the bone and was seasoned to perfection, requiring no added condiments. The greens are a secret recipe that will make your mouth water, and the macaroni and cheese is proportionally perfect and decadent.
Greg has seen visitors from a wider geographic range since his appearance on Parts Unknown, but we thought we’d be late to the party of media attention and accolades. He does get some adventurous foodies that stop by. However, the neighborhood is badly blighted and in a less populous, seemingly forgotten area of the city, which is likely what has kept some visitors at bay. The block is mostly lots of tall grass and empty dilapidated homes that seem to be sinking into the urban prairie. Greg’s home, however, is well kept and tidy. His big red grill and smiling face are a welcome sight.
Holmes is committed to living in Detroit and said that back in 1984, his neighborhood was a beautiful place. “[Now] there’s been so much bad … but there’s good people here, and there’s people who care about the people that are here.”
He makes food that makes people happy, and he sees it as a way to bring people together. Greg explained to us that what he is working on is reaching a wider customer base and finding a way to get his business off the ground (literally) and into a restaurant space. Greg has been looking for resources and slowly he is putting the pieces together.
He’s exactly the type of person that needs support from granting agencies like the New Economy Initiative, might be a great candidate for Hatch Detroit, or could benefit from business education support like D:Hive’s Build classes. However he lives in a part of Detroit that is not reached into by the start-up community and small business support centers. There is no business incubator near him, and we have found that the message about resources being available simply does not get into most of Detroit’s neighborhoods.
So what is his goal? Greedy Greg wants to get a pop-up restaurant going in a high traffic area like Eastern Market, where his authentic soul-food and barbecue would be a huge hit, and after trying it, we agree.
During the week he works at a plant that custom makes specialized racks for transporting car parts in various stages of production, where he hustles to fill orders for Ford and GM.
“I’m gonna work, but what I really want to do is this, I want to own a restaurant,” says Holmes, “come here on Saturdays and I’ll be out here in this little tent, rain or shine. I’m trying to get my name out there, and once I get my name out there, I’m going forward.”
We want to help Greg move forward, and if you go meet him, you will want to help him too. And when you sink your teeth into his food, you’ll realize we’re all going forward together.
His tent is open only on Saturdays at 14295 Seymour street at Chalmers from 4pm ’til the food is gone.