Russell Street Deli owners eye Hamtramck's Baker Streetcar Bar for new restaurant

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Update: The owners have ended their crowdfunding campaign. 

The former owner of beloved breakfast and lunch restaurant Russell Street Deli in Eastern Market has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help open a new concept in Hamtramck. 

Ben Hall and Arielle Laws are hoping to take over Baker Streetcar Bar on Jos Campau in Hamtramck, just a few steps from popular destinations like New Palace Bakery, Polish Village Cafe and Whiskey in the Jar watering hole. According to the crowdfunding page, the new restaurant will focus on dinner — pasta and pizza — and a monthly Sunday brunch.

Russell Street Deli in Eastern Market closed permanently in summer 2019.

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Hall told The Detroit News that they want to keep the name and preserve the history of Baker Streetcar Bar, a staple of Hamtramck's pub scene for several decades. Hall says owner Rocky Radtke is looking to retire from the bar business. 

"We will keep the Baker Streetcar Bar name, we are somewhat obsessed with preserving as much of the history of the establishment," said Hall. "There were already so few places left that represented a particular time in Detroit without kind of replacing a whole joint with contemporary restaurant design trends that already seem dated." 

Hall and his wife Laws will work together on the menu, and plan to make Baker's side room into a dining room with the bar area acting as more of a lounge. 

The couple says without the help from the community to reach their fixed goal of $175,000, this plan won't happen. To entice donors, they've offered some primo perks for bigger donations, like private chef dinners and cooking classes. 

Russell Street Deli closed in 2019 after 30 years of serving a dedicated customer base in Eastern Market, often keeping those with dietary needs and the community as a whole in mind. The deli closed after a public dispute with landlord Sanford Nelson of FIRM Real Estate. Hall, who also has a retail soup company called Little Pot, told The Detroit News in 2019 that he would likely open a restaurant in the future, but nothing with the Russell Street Deli name. 

Baker Streetcar Bar, 9817 Jos Campau in Hamtramck, is currently open evenings Wed.-Sun. There will be a St. Patrick's Day party with corned beef and cabbage dinners 4:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Twitter: @melodybaetens