Coffee, Soup & Bookcase Benches: Small Businesses in the D

By: Toni Cunningham | May 7, 2014
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Small businesses in downtown Detroit are booming, and I for one am not surprised. Entrepreneurs and young professionals are flocking to the area to create start-ups, pop ups and more, and they’ve got some innovative ideas in their crafty little heads.

While there are dozens upon dozens of impressive small businesses booming in downtown Detroit, there are five in particular that you should definitely, without a doubt be aware of.

Always Brewing Detroit, located at 19180 Grand River Ave., Detroit, is a community center, performance spot and coffee shop located in Rosedale Park. What began as a pop-up a few years ago turned into a permanent location that now houses events like weekly open mic nights every Thursday (from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.) and BYOB—Bring Your Own Board Game the first Tuesday of every month (from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.).

Upcoming events at Always Brewing include a Spring Market on Thursday, May 8, Grandmont Rosedale SOUP on Sunday, May 18, and Craft Night on Tuesday, May 20.

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Always Brewing serves more than just coffee, as the menu is full of breakfast and lunch staples like muffins, bread, wraps, soup, salad and granola.

It’s a great place to enjoy some live, local music or just kick back and relax!

Beautiful Soup doesn’t have a storefront location, so for now, soups are created, catered and delivered. Established in 2012, owner and soup chef extraordinaire Angela Dagle whips up seasonal soups and serves them with freshly made bread. She focuses on full flavored comfort food and uses seasonal ingredients that are sourced from local suppliers. During the summer months, 80 to 90 percent of the ingredients used in her soups are sourced and grown locally!

Perhaps the coolest part about this local business is that Beautiful Soup offers a monthly soup subscription! It’s like a magazine being delivered to your door every 30 days, but edible. Soup subscriptions are available in three, six or 12 month packages and you have your choice of either a small (a quart of soup and a loaf of bread) or large size (a quart of soup, a pint of soup and a loaf of bread). Each month you have your choice of two varieties. Here’s a peek at the calendar:

  • May: Turkey & Kale with White Bean and/or Lemony Lentil
  • June: Sunshine Chili and/or Roasted Red Pepper with Corn Salsa
  • July: Chicken Tortilla and/or Tomato Basil Gazpacho
  • August: Lime Chicken with Avocado and/or Roasted Summer Vegetable

It gets even better, because head on over to Always Brewing Detroit and you’ll be able to order a bowl of Beautiful Soup! Take a peek at Beautiful Soup’s Facebook page to find out what’s being offered daily and you can do the same to see what’s being ladled up at Always Brewing Detroit.

Sit On It Detroit is a local business that combines public transportation with restoration and literacy. Say what? Two college students, Kyle Bartell and Charles Molnar, developed Sit On It Detroit last year. Their business begins with local artisans who create benches out of wood from abandoned houses and businesses within the city of Detroit. The benches include a built-in bookshelf where bus riders are encouraged to read books while they wait for their ride.

Sit On It Detroit was awarded with nearly a thousand dollars last year courtesy of Detroit SOUP when the business won the donations collected at November’s meeting. (For more on Detroit SOUP and how the organization works, click the link provided).

With so many people utilizing public transportation in downtown Detroit, and a policy that encourages the reading, borrowing and donating of books, I am completely on board!

Homes Eyewear, which is headquartered in Eastern Market, is one of the coolest small businesses to come out of downtown Detroit. It just launched last month, and the company handcrafts wooden sunglasses made from reclaimed wood from abandoned houses in Detroit. How awesome is that?

First, boards and pieces of wood are chosen at Reclaim Detroit, processed to get rid of nails, paint, etc., and are then hand cut and processed. Homes’ first model of sunglasses, The Roosevelt, was created with wood from a home that was located at 6400 Trumbull St., Detroit (not to be too specific or anything). The 6400 Series and Modern Series frames aren’t exactly cheap ($188 and $148, respectively), but they’re darn stylish and come in various shades (no pun intended) including walnut, chestnut and two-tone.

While Homes does not offer prescription eyewear at the moment, the company hopes to do so in the future. Kiss those Ray-Bans goodbye and wear a piece of Detroit right before your eyes! Literally.

Wedit, with headquarters at 1528 Woodward Ave., Detroit, has received critical acclaim from both The Knot and Wedding Wire in recent years. Established in 2010, the business provides easy and affordable wedding packages that include the rental of five HD cameras, giving you “sharable wedding memories.”

The idea is that instead of hiring a pricey videographer that costs the equivalent of a mortgage, you rent the cameras and create your own footage! In addition to the cameras, the package includes online transfer of your videos, backup of the footage, a personal website and hosting for a full year. If you’re not well versed in any particular editing software, they also provide editing services for an additional fee.

Packages (without editing) cost $499, and you can visit the official site to check for the availability of your wedding date and either pay in full or just reserve your slot for $25.

Downtown Detroit is bustling with activity, and these five businesses are certainly worth checking out! As a Metro Detroiter, it’s great to see the growth and development of a city that has faced many struggles. The fact that so many new businesses are lending each other a helping hand is just the icing on the cake.