Hamtramck’s Rock City Eatery to relocate to Midtown

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Just one day after their two-year anniversary, the owners of Rock City Eatery in Hamtramck revealed plans to relocate and expand their business in Midtown.

By early next year, co-owners chef Nikita Sanches and Jessica Imbronone will move Rock City Eatery from the 1,600-square-foot space on Jos Campau in Hamtramck to a nearly 4,000-square-foot building at 4216 Woodward where Bangkok Cuisine Express once existed.

“Hamtramck’s been really good to us,” says Imbronone. “We’ve had really good luck, but we need more space. So we’ve been looking in Hamtramck and elsewhere. We’ve really been open to anything, just the right fit. We’ve looked in Hamtramck to buy, we’ve looked at renting a new space, but this spot came up.”

Imbronone says the new Midtown Rock City Eatery will be right near an M-1 rail stop. It’s also walking distance from the Majestic entertainment center, HopCat Detroit, the Detroit Medical Center and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

She says the original plan for the restaurant was to open in Detroit, but the former Mexican restaurant in Hamtramck was a good fit at the time, so they went for it. Rock City Eatery opened in September 2013.

“Very soon we realized how impractical it was,” Imbronone said.

Sanches will keep the same menu he has in Hamtramck, but he’ll add to it depending on what kind of equipment he can fit in his new, more spacious kitchen.

“The plan is to move by early next year because we don’t have to do a whole lot of construction,” says Sanches, 30. He says the decor may look similar to Rock City Eatery’s rustic rock ‘n’ roll theme.

Sanches and Imbronone, who are getting married in November, also own Campau Tower in Hamtramck. They took over the diner last summer, gave it a good scrub and updated the menu. The long-standing slider joint will be unaffected by Rock City’s move.

Earlier this year, the pair appeared on the business reality show “Restaurant Startup” on CNBC. The episode focused on the young chef’s pie business, Rock City Pies, that he started before opening Rock City Eatery. Sanches is also known for his savory meals, like poutine with duck confit gravy and macaroni and cheese served in a bowl made of cheese.

“It was one of the hardest things we’ve done, but it was amazing experience,” says Imbronone. “We’re still getting people coming in asking for the things we made on that show, which is nice because now that we’re in this space we’re going to be able to do that.”

Rock City Eatery will remain open at 11411 Jos Campau in Hamtramck until the Midtown space is ready. All employees will relocated and more staff will likely be added.