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Detroit is This! Co-Founder of Two Community-Based Businesses in Detroit, Amy Peterson Shares on Detroit

From Belle Isle to The Kiesling to the Peacock Room, Peterson Shares Her Favorite Spots


Co-founder of the Congregation Detroit and Rebel Nell, Amy Peterson has made a career of building up the community around her and empowering women in Detroit. Peterson’s years in the city have been varied.

For ten years, she worked as Associate Counsel for the Detroit Tigers, then turned her energy toward social enterprise, aiming to help her neighbors – women living in a shelter in her community. She started Rebel Nell and employed these women, educating them to make unique jewelry pieces from fallen graffiti found throughout the city. Rebel Nell produces stunning pieces and has had huge success.

She then took a historic church and – with her husband and business partner – converted it into a community gathering space offering coffee, food, and drinks. The space is also used to lift up local artists and farmers by hosting events showcasing their work.

Detroitisit had the pleasure of speaking to Peterson and hearing what she loves to do and see and experience in Detroit.

Q: An acquaintance is coming into town for one night and asks where they should have dinner and a drink. What do you recommend?

A: I would recommend a visit to The Kiesling to start for a cocktail then head to Freya for a full-experience dinner or Oak & Reel for consistently great food. I also love Dragonfly for their assortment of alcoholic and alcohol-free cocktails. The other area I recommend for food is southwest Detroit. I am a big fan of El Asador for Mexican food or El Barzon for Mexican or homemade pasta. For a more casual dinner head to Nascimiento.

Q: You find yourself with a free Saturday afternoon and want to spend it roaming around the city – what places will you hit?

A: I am a big Belle Isle lover! It’s my happy place. I enjoy seeing all the people and cultures that enjoy our little island in the city. I also have enjoyed just spending the afternoon in downtown Detroit. You can rent a bike from Wheelhouse Detroit or MOGO and take in a lot of the city sites. I also recommend an architecture tour. To see a great example of art deco design take a peek at the ceiling in the Penobscot building. I highly recommend checking out all of the local downtown (women-owned) stores in and around Parkers Alley like the Aroma Labs, Bon Bon Bon, Lip Bar, Rebel Nell, and House of Pure Vin. If you enjoy yoga, take a class at Citizen Yoga.

Q: What’s your favorite new discovery in the city over the past year?

A: Palmer Park’s Tennis Program. It is amazing! I love playing tennis but never make the time to do so. I play with my neighbor at Palmer Park and have had a chance to see the incredible Tennis Program run by Coach Lee. She has done an incredible job building a program that provides excellent and affordable instruction to young people. I have actually signed up for lessons this year. I can’t wait!

Q: What’s the most underrated spot that deserves more visibility?

A: Parker’s Alley. First and foremost is the history. This is the site where Thomas Parker, one of the first black landowners in Detroit, owned property. It was named to honor his legacy. The alley is tucked away behind the Shinola Hotel. It offers great food options like Mr Dips for burgers and ice cream, MadCap for coffee, and the Brakeman for a cold beer on a hot summer day after the ball game. They are constantly doing cool activations in the Alley and it is certainly worth a visit.

Q: Where do you like shopping for clothes in Detroit? 

A: El Dorado in Corktown, Brightly Twisted, Frida, Yama, and The Peacock Room. The best boutiques for women. They are women-owned and bring fashion to our great city.

Q: It’s Thursday night and you don’t have plans, what’s that one go-to spot you love for a night out?

A: House night at The Congregation! Hands down one of my favorite events in the city.

Q: What’s your favorite season in Detroit and why?

A: Fall. It is still warm and the turning leaves are spectacular. I also love outdoor fires and sweater weather. Honestly, I love my backyard with neighbors during this time.

Q: Best way to spend a lazy afternoon in the city?

A: Belle Isle. The breeze off the river can be very calming.

Q: Best place to get a cup of coffee.

A: The Congregation, In Harmony and Rosa’s. All are great local community-based coffee shops that act as gathering spaces for their neighborhoods.

Q: Best place to people watch:

A: Hart Plaza during Movement Weekend.

Q: What makes a Detroiter?

A: Grit and tenacity.

Q: What do you treasure most about the city?

A: What I treasure most about Detroit is the incredible perseverance and drive of its people. Detroiters have an infectious spirit of resilience and determination that permeates every corner of the city. This community’s unwavering commitment to overcoming challenges and continuously pushing forward inspires me daily. The creativity, innovation, and strength found here are truly remarkable, making Detroit a unique and vibrant place to live and work. Whether it’s through artistic expression, entrepreneurial ventures, or community initiatives, the tenacity of Detroiters fuels a dynamic and thriving urban environment that I am proud to be a part of.


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