I recently made a trip out to the Detroit area for my Grandmother’s memorial and for everything that could have been sad, I found that there was so much more to celebrate. She passed after an incredible 101 years and has seen Detroit change more in that time than is imaginable. I learned some incredible stories about my Grandma Mary. Mary Springer Mulligan was both a secretary and a runway model at the glittering new GM building. She was always dressed to the nines – with fur hats, dripping jewelry and a lot of swagger. My point is that Detroit was GLAMOROUS! It was the pinnacle of industry, innovation and the birthplace of Motown.
The sad thing is that I have only heard fables of that long lost world. During my many visits to Detroit, I had only seen what I can describe as a post-apocalyptic state, which has been completely abandoned by any sort of living inhabitants – like zombies are going to come out and kill you at any moment. I know this seems dire but, it just is.
HOWEVER, in my recent trip I saw a growing green plant amongst the rubble. That green plant is the new life being created on historic Woodward Avenue (props: I only found this because my good friend and UCLA Urban Planning student, Lucia Fischer, went there on a field trip).
On Woodward Ave. you will follow an endless row of art galleries, community art centers and atypical boutiques before you arrive at the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company. This hip spot feels straight out of Brooklyn or the Mission (without the prices and the bored attitude). The Detroit dwellers sitting quietly in this amorphous coffee shop, wine bar, live theatre, restaurant are true hipsters.
We caught up with James Cadariu, part owner and wine buyer for the shop and not your typical wine snob. The man has an undeniable passion for both wine and for his hometown of Detroit. He is also an incredible storyteller when it comes to his favorite wines. If you can’t hang out with him in person, check out his posts in the Gourmet Underground: Detroit.
His philosophy for buying wines is that he likes to get to know each of the small producers personally. He has travelled to each location to get the story straight from the horse’s mouth. He only stocks the shelves with a few of producers he truly believes in. They are from around the world and he tries to keep them in the $20-30 price range. The beauty of this is that you could ask him about literally any wine in the store and he would be able to tell you a personal anecdote about the wine and why that bottle is unique. They even have a blog that helps bring those stories to life.
While Detroit still has a long way to go, it’s the type of love and attention that went into places like Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company that will make it happen. Get ready to discover some of the worlds best wines from importers out of Detroit!!