Around Metro Detroit, chef Nikita Santches is known as Nik, the pie guy, or Justin Timberlake’s doppelganger.
Santches has been in the food service industry since the age of 15, and has held every job imaginable: server, dishwasher, executive chef, manager and caterer.
Two years ago, Santches jumped at the chance to start making and selling pies at Ferndale’s Rust Belt Market under the moniker Rock City Pies. Now, as that chapter has come to a close, he’s embarking on another new journey: opening his very first restaurant.
While Santches has a precise vision for how his restaurant will come together, he needs your help to bring it to life. In order to do so, he has created a Kickstarter-like campaign on Indiegogo to raise money for Rock City Eatery. From now until Tuesday, May 21, you can make a donation to Santches and his restaurant through the website.
His goal is to raise $35,000 through the campaign, which will be used to build out the restaurant’s current space, as well as purchase all of his cooking equipment.
Rock City Eatery will open in Hamtramck and serve a small, seasonal menu with local influences. Santches has already acquired a building space and has plenty of ideas for his new project.
“The plan is to have a restaurant that serves affordable, high quality, simple food that uses as many local ingredients as possible. I want to introduce people to new flavors and new ingredients from around the world… in ways that they will be comfortable with,” Santches said, noting that he plans to mix up the idea of what “normal” means when it comes to sandwiches, pizza and pasta.
Santches believes Hamtramck will provide an ideal setting for his restaurant and give him an edge because of its limitless culture.
“Also, being in this area will allow me to serve affordable food, because I will not have to overcharge for items in order to cover the costs that I would incur if I was in a ‘trendy’ area,” Santches said. “I don’t want to be like some restaurants that charge $13 for a grilled cheese.”
He and pal James Rigato, executive chef of The Root Restaurant & Bar in White Lake, share the sentiment that Metro Detroit has much to offer in terms of the culinary world, and both are aiming to put Michigan on the food map.
Not only will the menu items at Rock City Eatery be affordable and worldly, they will also be made entirely from scratch. Santches plans to make everything in-house, right down to the bread, butter and cheese in his sandwiches.
Breakfast items will include morning sandwiches, pastries, tea and coffee from local roasters. At lunchtime, the menu will boast sandwiches and soups. Once Santches acquires a liquor license, the restaurant will begin serving dinner, and at some point down the road, weekend brunch.
Santches is working with fellow Rust Belt entrepreneur Tony Bommarito (of Detroit Picker) to craft one-of-a-kind tables for the restaurant made from Michigan wood. He’s also working with Detroit Picker to find unique, vintage stools and chairs to pair with the tables. To round out the local vibe, the walls of Rock City Eatery will be adorned with pieces from Detroit-based photographer S. Kay Young.
Consider this your call to action! Whether you’re a foodie interested in a new and different dining experience, or you’re simply happy to support the local economy, make sure to contribute to Rock City Eatery’s campaign through May 21. In case you need some extra incentive, you will receive a gift for the following contributions:
The restaurant will, of course, serve Santches’ signature pies.