“Very diverse crowd. People were having so much fun, the rain came and people kept going. We moved the bars inside so people could continue using their drink tickets. There were food venues so people could get oysters and ice cream,” said Jones. Making money wasn’t the object. “More than anything it allowed a space for people to be hospitable to each other. Having a good time together.”
Food trucks, bands, mural demonstrations, and meaty conversations converged in “Hospitality Included,” an organization advocating for more jobs and patrons to the city’s burgeoning restaurant culture. According to Jones, expect meat from Marrow, appetizers from SheWolf, and an exotic pairing of chicken and caviar.
Jones, the leader of “Hospitality Included” and also the general manager of Freya, an upscale restaurant in the heart of the North End neighborhood, aims large. His focus is to mix up diners from all around the city so that black-owned and white-owned restaurants in Detroit see a fluidity in patronage. “Less about white and black, more about everyone coming together,” he says. He hopes the annual food festival will lead the way.
“More than anything I want to see a food festival where everyone is welcome,” Jones says. A transplant from Atlanta, he met his wife and soon had a baby in Detroit. He’s planted in the city and its restaurant diversity. Last year over 1,500 people came to the first festival he organized. This year the plan is for 5,000.
Freya, the restaurant he manages in trendy Milwaukee Junction, was named among the 50 top restaurants in the nation by the New York Times last year.
To crusade on behalf of culinary inclusion is intriguing for a restaurant professional with the name of Thor. Wikipedia writes that Thor was a great Danish god with enormous strength, an implacable foe for the harmful race of giants but benevolent toward mankind. Jones is unstoppable in finding tasty ways to make an important statement.
Others are speaking up for diversity in restaurant dining. Lyndsay C. Green, Detroit Free Press reporter wrote, “Apart from the stretch of Black-owned restaurants along Livernois in Northwest Detroit, however, there are few new establishments whose dining rooms reflect the majority-Black city at large.”
Chroma Detroit, a live-work building on the edge of the North Side and the Milwaukee Junction neighborhoods helps host the Hospitality Included event of trucks and tents on its parking lot. Recognizable for blocks around is the giant mural by artist Sydney James, “the Girl with the D-Earring.”
The popularity of murals citywide prompted Jones to invite Sheefy McFly, who has painted colorful walls all over Eastern Market and around the city, among a cadre of other artists.
Food trucks include Pakistani cuisine from Khana, along with Lady of the House, Petty Cash, Marrow, Midnight Temple, and Ladder 4 Wine Bar. Dutch Girl Donuts planned but last minute bowed out on attendance.
Why do people come? Jones says people want to be together in a happening part of town. An estimated 2,000 this year, where Vietnamese and Pakistani food were the biggest hits.
“The food scene here is interesting, the best in six or seven years. Detroit is a destination for food. A food renaissance,” Jones says. Visit https://www.instagram.com/hosp.included/?hl=en
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