Detroit Shipping Company has it all. Opened in 2018, the Midtown beer garden, food hall, podcast studio, art gallery, coffee shop and concert venue pack an entire creative microeconomy under one roof. As Detroit reopens its doors to the public, so too does this vibrant hub of local culture.
It all started with a drawing on a napkin. On a typical date night with his wife, Jonathan Hatzell – co-founder of Detroit Shipping Company – sketched out five squares surrounding a central stage and asked his wife how she would fill the spaces. “She reached across the table and gave me a little hand rub and said, ‘ea, okay buddy,’” Hartzell recalls. “She didn’t know I already had the land picked out.”
The goal was simple: combine local spheres of influence into an entertainment juggernaut. “Each restaurateur has their own serving points but so does the art gallery and the stage and the podcast studio,” Hartzell explained. “Each point is a different person sharing their experience in your space, driving people to your space.”
The result is a venue unlike any other in Detroit. And they have no plans of slowing down. Development is already underway on the neighboring lot, where Hartzell and his partners plan to build a three-story boutique hotel and retail space. “We’re really becoming a true campus where you’ll have the extended units of small retail combined with a boutique hotel experience on top,” said Hartzell. “So you can eat, entertain, shop, stay.”
At any of half a dozen rotating food popups. Options range from Thai street food and Nepalese dumplings to New York-style Halal and Caribbean chicken (Coop’s head chef, Maxcel Hardy, was just named Hour Detroit’s “Chef of the Year”). It’s the ideal situation for a family torn on dinner options (isn’t every family?) or an adventurous first date.
Overwhelmed by the selection? Heed the advice of the founder himself: “For me, I got a family of five that roles in there, so generally how I dine there is I get a small plate from each kitchen. By myself, I get the Firebird. But if I’m doing my normal dining with my family or entertaining people, I’ll get the cauliflower from Coop, go over and get a chicken and gyro plate from Halal, at Bangkok 96 you always gotta get the pad thai roll (medium spice chicken). And I love the skewers and the sauces you get from Momo Cha, and when I’m sharing, I love the duck fat fries at Motorburger.”
Beer, wine, booze (or not-booze), coffee. As expected, DSC puts heavy emphasis on local, seasonal brew and delicious signature cocktails. They also feature an impressive list of hot cocktails to counter the cold Michigan nights that often extend through spring. For those looking to lay off the sauce altogether, there’s something for you too: various mocktails prepared with Wingman Electrolyte Soda, plus 320 Coffee & Creamery, serving a full menu of espresso drinks and teas.
From its inception, entertainment was at the core of Detroit Shipping Company’s vision. “The stage is the first container we built,” said Hartzell. “The first thing we did is [we] bought a 40-foot container, threw it on-site, cut open a hole and built a stage. It was very important to me. It comes down to it’s how the world connects.”
Along with local bands and comedy acts (currently on hold pending a change in public health policy), visitors can enjoy three independent galleries featuring a rotating roster of Detroit artists. Currently, you will find work from Mark Sarmel (Bridge Lounge Gallery), Berris Flemmings (West Art Gallery) and Stephanie Chisholm.
Perhaps the most unconventional feature of the space, Detroit Shipping Company serves as one of three Podcast Detroit locations. Over ninety shows have made Podcast Detroit their home for recording more than 8,000 hours of content archived and syndicated out to 40+ platforms. “And now you can do it while you have a beer.”
At Eumelanin – a fashion brand with designs that feature the chemical structure of melanin. In June, DSC made a commitment to the Black community by offering a rent-free retail space for one year (and beyond). The space is designated for local, Black-owned businesses in support of entrepreneurs and the creative Detroit community.
Remember to drink responsibly and plan ahead with a designated driver or take advantage of one of these local designated driving services.