Ten years ago, few could have imagined that the almost entirely residential community of Hazel Park would ever be anything more. But in recent years, the expansion of Ferndale’s 9 Mile development has shifted east of Woodward, transforming a once sleepy town into one of Metro Detroit’s most rapidly-growing cities.
That’s not to suggest that commerce has been completely absent in the past. House of Shamrocks has thrived as the city’s primary watering hole since 2002. And lest we forget, Loui’s Pizza (est. 1977) is considered by many to be the quintessential Detroit-style pie, rivaling the originator – Buddy’s Pizza.
But now, a wave of new, trendy restaurants is crashing down on the intersection of 9 Mile and John R – and so with it – a mass-influx of young homebuyers eager to capitalize on the large, residential properties with low price tags. In this week’s Neighborhood Spotlight, we highlight the businesses ushering in a new era for Hazel Park.
Find something you love and do it every day. That was the goal when Matt and Mo left their native Chicago, dead-set on introducing Michiganders to the city’s most beloved specialty – hot Italian beef sandwiches. For three years, the couple traversed the state via food truck before eventually setting up shop in a stationary trailer at Detroit Fleat. In May 2020, Matt and Mo sealed the deal on their ultimate goal – a restaurant to call their own.
Matt and Mo’s Italian Beef now calls John R home. And while they could have ditched the ice cream shop that existed prior, why bother? The two have embraced the old with the new offering straight-outta-Chicago beef sandwiches, brats and dogs along with an extensive selection of frozen treats. The malts are next-level; required ordering to counter the sweet heat supplied by the sandwich’s pickled peppers. Nothing screams summer in Detroit quite like a hot dog, an ice cream cone and a picnic table. This Hazel Park newcomer’s got all three.
We can’t recommend hot beef and ice cream for every meal. Fortunately, Hazel Park’s newest restaurant offers fresh, healthy options for locals looking to do right by their mind and body. WeJuice is a concept designed by chefs, life coaches and trainers. Along with delicious fresh-pressed juice and smoothies, the health Mecca offers their own unique take on sushi, bowls and their most original creation – tea blenders. Imagine your favorite smoothie combined with your choice of herbal tea. We support this Black-owned business bringing life to the community.
In every way, Mabel Gray represents the greater movement occurring in Hazel Park. Self-described as “A restaurant embracing the history of Detroit’s industrial reach,” Chef Rigato has breathed new life into this cinderblock building that has housed neighborhood restaurants for decades. No set menu here. Rather, dishes shift with the changing of the seasons, highlighting farm-fresh ingredients and an audacious take on Michigan-inspired cuisine.
At Joebar, it’s all about the dip. House made au jus is the secret to the soaked sandwiches that have Metro Detroiters in a prime rib-induced frenzy. While the namesake honors the Average Joe, the Joedip is anything but. Locals love the Tuesday “Adult Happy Meal,” which includes a sandwich, fries and a specialty beer for just $10. And don’t worry, a toy – created by friends of the bar – really is included.
Tucked quietly behind Joebar, Frame is a creative space for creative people. Home to chef residencies, live music, art workshops and cocktail pairings, no two days are the same at this Hazel Park gem.
Buenos Aires Asado with Chef Michael Barrera. The Art of Japanese Sushi with Chef Nick George of Dr. Sushi. A Tiki Pizza Party with Corktown’s Grandma Bob’s Pizza and Mutiny Tiki Bar. Pasta with Brooklyn Street Local. Even take-home, Carnegie Deli corned beef sandwich kits for St. Patrick’s Day. That’s just this month.
Frame is where Detroit’s best chefs go out to eat…but everyone is equally welcomed.