Hey, friends. Jer here. My goal is that we’ll talk more through this email newsletter in the new year. And as 2024 approaches, there’s much to be excited about with the project — including a new podcast studio! I’ll devote more words to that at a later time.

For now, let’s catch up on what’s happening around town, some links I find interesting, then I’ll send you on your way.

🍷 What do you learn from running a bar in Downtown Detroit since 2005?

» Firebird Tavern owners Owen Burke and Tony Piraino have seen it all. They’ve faced various challenges along the way, but they’ve persevered. They started with a concept called Pulse in a now-demolished garage. Now, Firebird Tavern has been open in Greektown since 2013 and they recently expanded with a second location in Troy, Michigan.

I talk with Burke and Piraino about the impact of COVID-19 on their business and the long-term changes it has brought. They mention that downtown Detroit has seen a decrease in foot traffic that now feels (to them) like pre-bankruptcy levels in 2008, and the crucial importance of events like the NFL Draft coming this spring. They also talk about plans to make Monroe Street more pedestrian-friendly and the interconnectedness of the I-375 project.

I enjoyed having them in studio, and I hope you enjoy listening in.

📰 Things to know

» I spotted that a new Dunkin’ location is coming to Downtown Detroit. Located on Woodward just north of Campus Martius, it’ll be right next to the CVS. I don’t have details on when it’ll open. Once I get some more info, I’ll share it with you.

» A new 25-story high-rise hotel, known as Hotel Water Square, is set to begin construction soon. The hotel will feature 600 rooms, two ballrooms, extensive meeting space, and various amenities. With a prime riverfront location and literal connection to Huntington Place, this addition to Detroit's hotel scene is aimed to enhance the city's ability to host larger events and attract visitors to stay within the city. [Urbanize Detroit]

As I mentioned on the Friday podcast, I really hope that there’s a proper riverfront restaurant in this one. There are restaurants near the riverfront, but the ones at the RenCen have a large access road between you and the water. This feels like an opportunity here to have a special space a bit closer to the action.

🎁 Have holiday shopping to do?

Are you looking for the perfect gifts this holiday season that celebrate Detroit and Michigan? I know from personal experience that you can find something special for everyone on your list at our sponsor, City Bird.

Unique, thoughtful, and local — City Bird has it all for anyone on your list.

Imagine surprising your loved ones with their exclusive line of ceramic ornaments, beautifully designed to celebrate the things that make our area special.

Or classic engraved neighborhood rocks glasses, with your choice of 60 Detroit neighborhoods, for a touch of elegance.

City Bird also offers a curated selection of jewelry, candles, home goods, and apparel by hundreds of local and independent makers.

Visit City Bird today and make this holiday season truly memorable. Not just by buying gifts, but enjoying the city while you do it.

Located in Detroit at 460 West Canfield and online at CityBirdDetroit.com.

» The Detroit People Mover may be getting refurbished cars from Toronto. The aging system needs a boost — and getting cars from Toronto’s recently modernized Scarborough line will be far cheaper. Also, for now, it may put off an expensive and comprehensive overhaul. A Toronto transit official says we could get another five or ten years out of the equipment. [CP24]

+1: The Detroit People Mover is starting a pilot program at the beginning of next month with free fares.

I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t ride the DPM because I didn’t have three quarters or a dollar in cash - and I get upgrading the fare boxes would be prohibitively expensive. I think the hope is that they find a sponsor; and like the QLINE when it went free-to-ride, ridership skyrocketed. According to a recent report, the QLINE had nearly a million rides in 2023.

» Amp Fiddler, the influential Detroit musician and producer, passed away this week at the age of 65. Known for his work with Parliament-Funkadelic and mentoring J Dilla, he leaves behind a legacy of funk, soul, and electronic music. [Pitchfork]

If you’re unfamiliar and look for a couple of tracks, check out this collaboration with Corinne Bailey Rae…

…and also a personal favorite deeper cut, “Funk is here to stay.”

» Legendary Detroit area radio voice Ken Calvert also passed this week. I remember him as the public address announcer for the Bad Boy-era Pistons, but he was on air for decades and connected with so many people. [Fox 2 Detroit]

I still get chills when I hear “The Final Countdown” and hopefully, one day, the Pistons can win again.

🎭 Stuff to do

» Some kids grew up with lullabies, but my mom’s repertoire was more Mary Wells than Mary Had A Little Lamb. Earlier this week I had the chance to check out the multi-Tony award winning musical, “Ain’t too proud.”

It’s the story of the Temptations as told from the perspective of one of the founding members, Otis Williams. It’s an emotional ride that takes you through one of the most iconic acts out of Detroit, with tons of musical fun.

It’s done in a musical storytelling style that’s easy to follow and if you like Motown, you’ll be dancing in your seat. On opening night at the Fisher Theatre, we were surprised with none other than Dr. Otis Williams himself at the end of the show.

If you’re looking for a fun night out, shuffle over to the Fisher quickly as shows are only running though Saturday night. [Tickets]

One of the things that I wish I had seen was a real Motortown Revue show in the flesh. This is probably the best I’m gonna get without a time machine. On the Wednesday show, I talked about that with Norris Howard.

» The first Holidays in Greektown is this Saturday, December 23 from 2p-8p on Monroe Street. Look for 14 ice sculptures, holiday caroling, hot chocolate, holiday treats, and a special appearance by Santa. This family-friendly event will also have specials at many Greektown spots.

  • Live ice carvings from 2 to 6p
  • Santa will be in Greektown from 3:30 to 6:30p
  • Children’s Christmas caroling from 5 to 6p along Monroe Street and within businesses, from students in metro Detroit Greek schools (and the public is welcome to join)

[Greektown Detroit]

Thanks so much for reading! Happy Holidays, and if you want to support Daily Detroit, you can buy us a coffee.

We’ll talk soon.


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