Want to Help Local Restaurants? Pay Cash

20 08 2009

I found this Free Press article from @joefoodie on Twitter.  This jist of the article is that some Detroit area restaurants are starting to offer “discounts” to patrons who pay cash instead of using a credit card.  Why would they do that you ask?  They make more money. 

Each swipe of a card costs him a flat 15 to 20 cents, he says, plus add-ons of 2% to 3% of the transaction amount.

“If you do a high volume of credit cards, at the end of the month it adds up. It’s the volume you do, so by turning around and giving back to the customers, it’s a win-win: You’re giving back to the customer, and in return you get people coming into your restaurant and keeping you afloat.

OK.  That makes sense from a business standpoint.  From a consumer stand point, he’s walking a fine line.  According to your terms of service with your credit cards, retailers can not charge you more to use your card than they can if you pay cash.  In Michigan, doing this is not illegal.  In 10 other states, there are laws against credit card surcharges.

I said earlier the article featured in the story was “walking a fine line.”  Technically, he’s not charging more to use a credit card.   He’s giving a “discount” to use cash.  It’s sort of a grey area that gas stations have been using for sereral years to give consumers an incentive to pay with cash so they can increase their profits.  As long as they don’t call it a payment card checkout fee, they’re probably going to get away with charge YOU more to use a credit card. 

Surchage.  Cash discount.  No matter what they call it, it’s accomplishing the same thing.  My family is very big on paying in cash.  I, on the other hand, almost always pay with credit.  I just don’t like carrying more than twenty buck or so.  If I have the cash, I will pay with it, but most times I don’t.

What’s the moral of the story?  Ultimately, how you pay is up to you.  If you frequent a local joint often, think about paying cash.  You’ll be helping the owners of the place by letting them pocket that extra 2-3%.  It’s a good thing to do, but if businesses are going to accept credit cards, they shouldn’t penalize you for using one.





Detroit’s Hunger Problem

12 08 2009

J found this article on CNN.com.  It’s an interesting look at the food supply chain in Detroit and it’s really sad.  The picture of the armed guard protecting a delivery man is really scary.  I wouldn’t think this scene would happen anywhere in America. 

In this recession-racked town, the lack of food is a serious problem. It’s a theme that comes up again and again in conversations in Detroit. There isn’t a single major chain supermarket in the city, forcing residents to buy food from corner stores. Often less healthy and more expensive food.

As the area’s economy worsens –unemployment was over 16% in July — food stamp applications and pantry visits have surged.

Wow!  No major supermarkets?!  Again, not something I would expect anywhere in America.  Chicago has had to forcibly keep Walmart out of the city.  You would think Walmart would thrive in depressed urban setting like Detroit.  People are always amazed that there was no supermarket in the town I grew up in, but there’s only 750 people there.  Driving a half hour to the supermarket wasn’t that big of deal.  Getting in the car and driving out to the ‘burbs isn’t really an option for most people  in the city.

It isn’t all doom and gloom though as the article points out.

Detroiters have responded to this crisis. Huge amounts of vacant land has led to a resurgence in urban farming. Volunteers at local food pantries have also increased.

[snip]

Detroiters are also helping themselves in smaller ways. Thanks to the dearth of big supermarkets in Detroit proper – a phenomenon largely attributed to lack of people – and plenty of vacant land, community gardening has caught on big.

It’s not so much that these gardens are going to feed the city, although they certainly help. It’s more that they can be used to teach people, especially children, the value of eating right.

“I use vegetables every day,” said one child at an after school gardening program run by Earthworks Urban Farm, near the heart of the city. “Last night, an onion I picked from here, I had in my potatoes.”

Very cool.





Press Release – Crosby Mint Farm at Eastern Market

6 08 2009

From a Crosby Mint Farm Press Release……

PEPPERMINT JIM WILL BE SELLING PRODUCTS AT THE DETROIT EASTERN MARKET ON SATURDAY AUGUST 8TH 2009.

HELP PRESERVE THE OLDEST, CONTINIOUSLY FAMILY OPERATED MINT FARM IN THE U.S. BY SUPPORTING THE CROSBY MINT FARM, ST JOHNS, MICHIGAN.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(MINT CITY, USA/St. Johns, MI) August 5, 2009 – All Michigan Made costumers, supporters, community members, new and old costumers are invited to come to the Eastern Market in Detroit on Saturday August 8th 2009. Peppermint Jim Crosby will be at the Detroit Eastern Market on Saturday selling his mint oil products. This will be an opportunity to support the oldest continuously family owned and operated mint farm in the country that is facing foreclosure. There will be a wide variety of mint products produced directly on the farm for sale. Peppermint Jim will be sharing his passion and knowledge of the healing properties of mint.

WHAT: Peppermint Jim Crosby will be at the Detroit Eastern Market.

WHO: Community members and supporters of the Crosby Mint Farm.

WHERE: Detroit Eastern Market
                     2934 Russell Street
                     Detroit, MI 48207

                     PH: 313.833.9300

                     FAX: 313.833.9309

WHEN: Saturday August 8th, 2009
                   5AM-5PM

About Crosby Mint Farm
Our mission is to preserve the heritage of the nation’s oldest sustainable mint producer, live as an independent American farmer producing the highest quality point of origin essential mint oil available, while honoring the land with sustainable farming management plans, renewable energy sources, and green growing practices, build relationships through education and

outreach, health & wellness, and personal ecological accountability.





“No Reservations” in Detroit tonight!

27 07 2009

I’ve never really gotten in to this show, but “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel will feature four Detroit area restaurants tonight.

Bourdain’s stops here included Polonia and the Family Donut Shop in Hamtramck, Al-Ameer in Dearborn and Detroit’s Cadieux Cafe.

The show airs on Travel Channel (Comcast Digital Channel 159 in Lansing) at 10:00 PM tonight.





Buddy’s Pizza – Conant Street

13 07 2009
  • 17125 Conant Street
  • Detroit, MI 48212
  • (313) 892-9001
  • Website
  • Menu
Buddys Pizza on Conant Street in Detroit.

Buddy's Pizza on Conant Street in Detroit.

Finally!  This weekend finally got here.  It’s a weekend that J and I have been looking forward to for quite a while.  My family, including my 9 month old niece, was coming to see us.  The purpose behind the trip was to take in a ballgame at Comerica Park.  It was unfortunate that we couldn’t pick a weekend that the White Sox were in town, but my brother and sister-in-law already had vacations planned for this week and since the Tigers were home, we got tickets and planned on enjoying a long weekend in Michigan.

Before we could go to the game, we had to find food.  As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, pizza is the easiest thing for us all to agree on.  Most people recommended Pizza Papalis in Greektown which, up until a few weeks ago, was the plan.  As I was surfing the Chow.com boards, I kept reading about Buddy’s Pizza. 

I’ve eaten at the Pizza Papalis in Southfield and loved it, but, it was Chicago-style pizza.  My family is from Chicago, so I wanted to give them a uniquely Detroit experience.  When I posted a thread on Chow.com, I got several replies that Buddy’s would give them the uniquely Detroit experience and it was some of the best pizza in the country. Read the rest of this entry »





Pizza Delivery To Your Boat

8 06 2009

Have you ever been out on the lake, got hungry, but didn’t want to drive back to shore to get food.  If you’re on Lake St. Clair, that’s no longer a problem.

The Sam’s Sorrento Pizza chain is launching the SS Pizza, with an oven and fully equipped kitchen. It will use dingy-size boats to make weekend deliveries of pizza, chicken wings, hamburgers and other foods to vessels on the popular lake, northwest of Detroit.

Owner Al Marino tells the Detroit Free Press boaters can visit the SS Pizza or phone in orders and have food brought to them.

Awesome.





Press Release – Senator Proposes Referendum on Smoking Ban

22 04 2009

Here’s a new twist.  Senator Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit) is proposing putting the smoking ban on the 2010 ballot.  This seems, to me, a drastic change from what the Detroit contigency has been saying about the ban.  I would be willing to bet that IF this question makes it to the ballot, it would pass overwhelmingly….so for that reason, I wouldn’t expect it to make it out of either chamber.

Hunter Introduces Bill to Put Smokefree Workplace Issue on the Statewide BallotBill would create ballot proposal to let voters–not special interests–decide if workplaces should go smokefree

 

LANSING- Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit) introduced a bill today that would put the issue of smokefree workplaces on the 2010 statewide ballot. Under this legislation, the ballot proposal would call for all worksites to be smokefree and not include exemptions for restaurants, bars, or casinos.

“For the past 10 years, the Legislature has tried and failed to pass a smokefree worksite bill that would protect our citizens from smoking-related diseases,” said Sen. Hunter. “Instead of continuing to argue about exemptions and concessions, we need to go to the voters and let them decide what is best for Michigan.”

Data from the New York City Department of Finance shows that tax receipts increased by 8.7 percent, or approximately $1.4 million, after the city went smokefree. Between March 2003, when the city went smokefree, and December 2003 there were 10,600 new jobs in its bars and restaurants. Florida saw similar results, and reported that retail receipts for taverns and bars that served food remain unaffected by its smokefree law.

“For my entire legislative career, I have fought on behalf of a majority of Michigan’s citizens who feel Michigan workplaces should be smokefree, only to have my concerns fall on deaf ears or be drowned out by special interests,” said Sen. Ray Basham (D-Taylor), a cosponsor of the bill and longtime advocate for smokefree workplaces. “I had hoped to protect the health of Michigan workers through state legislation, but I am confident that if we let the people of Michigan decide at the ballot box, we can finally move Michigan forward on this issue.”

Recent studies show that nearly 2/3 of Michigan voters support a workplace ban that includes bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, Michigan remains one of the 15 states left that has yet to pass legislation to create smokefree workplaces. Thirty-five states have already passed similar legislation to protect their workers form deadly exposure to secondhand smoke, including Ohio, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.





Roast

1 03 2009
  • 1128 Washington Boulevard
  • Detroit, MI 48226
  • (313) 961-2500
  • Website
  • Menu
Michael Symons Roast in downtown Detroit.

Michael Symon's Roast in downtown Detroit.

Finally!  The present I’ve been looking forward to.  When I told J I bought her tickets to a concert in Windsor, she suggested going to Roast for dinner.  Her treat.  I was so excited when I read an article that Iron Chef Michael Symon was opening a Detroit restaurant and when I saw the menu for it, I knew I had to go.

Roast is in downtown Detroit on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Michigan Avenue in the recently restored Westin Book-Cadillac hotel.  The restaurant is on the bottom floor of the Washington Boulevard side.  There is an entrance from the hotel, but there’s also a set of doors next to the hotel’s main entrance that lead directly into the restaurant.

We surprisingly found parking at a meter about a block away.  Had we not, the choices looked to be very limited.  I think I saw a self park on Michigan Avenue next to the hotel.  There’s also a valet service if that’s more your thing. 

We arrived at about 5:45 for a 6:15 reservation.  We checked in with the matre’d figuring we were going to have to wait, but they actually seated us right away.  Roast has a couple huge dining rooms.  They are street level with huge windows looking out into downtown Detroit.  The space is covered with dark, subdued colors with pops of light.  From the dining room, you can see into the kitchen and you can watch the “Roast Beast of the Day” being slow roasted on a spit.  We didn’t sit in the dining room.  Instead, we were seated in the bar area which actually worked out really well.  Read the rest of this entry »





Europa Pastisserie Cafe

1 03 2009
  • 546 Monroe Street
  • Detroit, MI 48226
  • (313) 237-5370
  • No Known Website
  • No Online Menu
Europa Patisserie Cafe in Detroits Greektown

Europa Patisserie Cafe in Detroit's Greektown

After checking out the Eastern Market and snapping some pictures of what’s remaining of Tiger Stadium for my brother, we headed towards Greektown.  We’re still not really familiar with Detroit, but we knew Greektown was a walkable area and probably had a coffee shop or something for us to relax in for a while.  Luck was on our side, we actually found a metered space about a block from where we wanted to be.  After showing off my parallel parking skills, we headed towards the restaurant area. 

We thought about just going to the Astoria Pastry Shop (review HERE) like we did last time we were in Greektown, but the line was out the door.  We kept walking and I noticed a cafe across the street.  We walked down to the stoplight since I was chicken to jaywalk right in front of the Detroit cop that was walking toward us then double backed to the cafe.

Europa Pastisserie Cafe is on Monroe Street on the bottom floor of the Greektown casino.  There is an exterior door, but there’s also an entrance from inside the casino.  There’s a little marketplace area that has a link to a number of restaurants including a Cold Stone Creamery, a steakhouse, and a Greek tavern.  Read the rest of this entry »





Eastern Market

1 03 2009
  • 2934 Russell Street
  • Detroit, MI 48207
  • (313) 833-9300
  • Website
The Eastern Market in Detroit

The Eastern Market in Detroit

Saturday, February 28th was a big day for J and I.  We delayed our Valentine’s Day celebration by a couple weeks because of a concert in Windsor.  I got J tickets to see Miranda Lambert and in return, she got reservations to Roast in Detroit for me.  When the day finally came, both of us were anxious.  We had been looking forward to this day for so long, it was hard to sit still.  Early in the day, we decided we just needed to leave and go to Detroit even though our reservations weren’t until 6:15.  To kill time, J suggested we check out the Eastern Market.

The Eastern Market is on Russell street.  It’s the oldest public market district in the United States.  Since it’s still winter, things weren’t as crazy as they probably are in the summer.  We got to Detroit just before 4:00.  Since we didn’t really know what was going on, I parked in the first place I found.  During the winter, the market is in Shed 5 which was a two block walk from where we were.  We didn’t know that when we started walking, but I saw signs pointing us that way.  It was cold and windy and it made the walk brutal.  I should have just moved the car, but I didn’t know any better. Read the rest of this entry »