Letter: Restaurants are leading Detroit’s revival

The Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) has seen greater growth and stronger engagement in Detroit. Opportunity is abound with vibrant neighborhoods taking root and a renewed sense of entrepreneurship taking hold.

There’s a lot more work to do, but Detroiters don’t shy away from hard work. Nowhere is that work ethic more apparent than in Detroit’s flourishing restaurant industry. From its bold entrepreneurs to its dedicated managers and staff, Detroit restaurants are creating something special and leading Detroit’s revival.

Restaurants tell the story, reflect the culture of the city and, for many, provide the first step in their careers. As the second largest private employer in Michigan, the restaurant industry is an economic powerhouse, generating $15.4 billion in annual sales and employing nearly 11 percent of the entire work force in the state. In Detroit, that translates to over 100,000 jobs, representing about one-quarter of all restaurant industry jobs statewide.

To do our part, the MRA recently launched the Detroit Kitchen Cabinet, an initiative focused on establishing a strong working group of informed, active and motivated members of the restaurant community to educate and partner with elected officials in Detroit. We’ve co-hosted community engagement events such as the Detroit Veterans Town Hall with the Michigan Veterans Institute, partnered with Mayor Mike Duggan to employ nearly 300 young adults in the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent Program, and met with city restauranteurs to address their concerns with operating and expanding within Detroit.

Restaurants undeniably play a critical role in their community. Whether it’s helping to feed the hungry, providing that first job opportunity for young and inexperienced workers, or assuming the risk to bring something special to our lives, they have played and will continue to play a vital role in the resurgence of Detroit.

Justin Winslow, president and CEO

Michigan Restaurant Association