Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Allee Willis Marches on Detroit! Part 10 , The Restaurants

An important part of any urban experience is where and what you choose to eat. Anyone who knows me knows that no money needs to be wasted on the fanciest or trendiest restaurants in town. I wanted to hit the institutions in Detroit that not only involved the excitement I had as a child driving to them but that have proven to be quality enough (or, preferably, kitschy enough) to live on, restaurants whose very presence defines the personality of the city. Most of my all-time favorites have long since succombed, like Dinah Inn, Jerry’s, both great steakhouses off Woodward, and my all-time favorite deli, Darby’s. Even Carl’s Chop House closed a few years ago.

Thankfully, the Italian restaurant my family went to every Sunday night, Mario’s, is still there.

But although I recognized it from the outside, it’s gotten too gussied up on the inside to be of value to my hungering memory cells now. But old time tradition is still alive in some excellent vintage haunts I’d never been to before. First there’s Mr. Mike’s.

Now selling itself as a karaoke sports bar, Mr. Mike’s is old school dining experience enhanced by dimly lit fake Tiffany lamps, burgundy leatherette booths and stained glass windows.

I could do without the lattice work and Americana dowels but I do like that the banquettes remain intact.

I’m also not a big one for stripping away the plaster to expose the brick underneath in efforts to make a place look old. This place looks old enough without this 80′s postmodern touch.

The waiter didn’t have much patience for me flipping back and forth between a turkey club, onion soup au gratin, Chef’s Salad, and meatloaf, all steakhouse classics for me.

I finally settled on the meatloaf and loaded baked potato. Notice the fringe on the “Tiffany” lamp tilted for optimum lighting of my meatloaf.

The potato especially deserves a closeup:

Though we were all jealous of the liver and onions someone else at the table ordered:

As old school and perfect as the food was, as one of the “grown and sexy people” I’m really sorry to have missed DJ Poppi Smooth:

Another favorite restaurant this trip was Vince’s, an Italian joint in Southwest Detroit. Though I almost didn’t get past the entrance because of the blinding brilliance of this display:

Is the fluffy cotton/Christmas snow backdrop supposed to be steam rising from the pasta?

I don’t know, but the supreme naïveté and kitschiness of the encased pasta art was enough for me to proclaim Vince’s a must-eat-at Italian pit stop in the Motor City. And I’m happy to report that the beauty on the walls continued throughout the restaurant:

As impressed as I am with this Golden Colander award, I’m sure the owners are more excited by this:

I know it’s blurry but you can see it’s a hand-signed personal note from Frank. And you know that means business when it comes to an Italian restaurant. This one isn’t bad either:

Also not bad is the decor:

I was too hungry to remember to snap shots of any of the food but I did get this one of us eating. Well, I’m texting, but eating every other text.

Another stop on the vintage-and-still-standing restaurant run was Sign Of the Beefcarver on Woodward past 10 Mile.

I really wanted to go to this place down the block but it was closed:

But I was excited to hit the Beefcarver as I knew it was a cafeteria.

The food line did not disappoint. As I’ve come to expect in great cafeterias, there’s always a complete selection of salad items.

I had tossed salad with Thousand Island dressing, roast beef, mashed potatoes and corn, my signature meal when I’m in a cafeteria. I forgot to photograph the food here too as I was too busy looking at the walls.

Then, of course, there’s The Telway, with four burgers for $2.25.

And Lafayette Coney Dogs.

I wish I could’ve hit more joints when I was in Detroit but I was too busy preparing for this:

And this:

But my utensils remain sharpened. I’m all ears if anyone else can suggest more vintage eateries for my next trip home which, I’m happy to report, is imminent!

 

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Categories: Architecture, Celebrity, Detroit, Food, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, Place, The Color Purple

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Allee Willis Marches on Detroit! Part 9, The City By Car

Wednesday, April 6, had tremendous potential. (L-R) Mark Blackwell and Laura Grover, both of whom worked on putting the whole Detroit extravaganza together with me, and I were being driven around the city by Michael Poris, one of the architects leading the charge to rebuild Detroit. The Majestic Theater is one of his projects.

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Categories: Architecture, Creativity, Detroit, Earth Wind & Fire, empowerment, Financial, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, People, Place, School, Sculpture, Self expression, Sign, Songwriting, The Color Purple, Transportation, Travel

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Allee Willis Marches on Detroit! Part 8, Sights In Passing

One of my favorite things in life is photographing whatever I see around me, especially if I’m in a car and just happen to pass something that tickles my kitsch bone or general love of vintage or personality laden locations. Here are some of my favorites sightings that hit my eyeballs while attempting to find wherever I was going my first two days in Detroit.

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Categories: Architecture, Art, Detroit, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Place, Sculpture, Self expression, Travel

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Allee Willis Marches on Detroit! Part 7, Fox News and Marching Band Rehearsal

Tues., April 5, started at 7 am. (Kill me now; that’s the middle of the night for me.) Thank God there was a Yum Yum (my dictation software just typed that as Young Dumb) Donuts open in Southfield, the suburb of Detroit where Fox News is located. So I hit Young Dumb for a quick sugar infusion and rolled up the street to Fox in time to be on the morning news. Thank God the Green Room, one of the few actually painted green I’ve been in, had a nice, squishy couch. The donuts hadn’t quite kicked in yet.

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Categories: Detroit, Mumford high school, Music, Musical Instruments, School, TV/Radio

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – The Worst Easter Chicks Ever

These are without question the mangiest chicks ever, that is if these feathery creatures are, in fact, “chicks”. Hard to tell in this little display diorama, whose elegant mirrored-inside swoop made the original owner kitschingly ecstatic when they bought this, most likely in the 1970′s or 80′s. Except people who buy things like this have no idea that something is so tragically off. They view it, instead, as a thing of beauty. The “chicks’” owner probably didn’t even wait for Easter to display them but, rather, kept them out all year, they were THAT beautiful to them.

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Categories: Accessories, Animals, Art, Holidays, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O The Day – Allee Willis Marches on Detroit! Part 6, Joe Louis’ Fist

We had some time to kill on Tues, April 5th, before going to a reception for the Rust Belt To Arts Belt conference I was giving a speech at the next day. The party was downtown so we used the opportunity to swing by Detroit’s most famous landmark, The Spirit of Detroit.

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Categories: Celebrity, Detroit, Place, Sculpture, Sports, Transportation, Travel

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Allee Willis Marches on Detroit! Part 5, The School and The Hot Dogs

The first time I ever went back to my high school, Mumford, after graduating in 1965 was when my musical, The Color Purple, first came to the Fox Theatre in 2008.

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Categories: Architecture, Detroit, Food, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, Music, Neutron Dance, People, School, Self expression

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Happy Passover! Hebrew Smurf Tile

I never really got into The Smurfs. That shade of blue was definitely not my favorite color and I didn’t have the patience to learn the Smurf language. I also didn’t have the patience to study Hebrew for the couple of years I attended Hebrew school at Beth Aaron, right across the street from Mumford High in Detroit, so have no idea what this Smurf is saying.

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Categories: Brands, Comic book, Forgot to Categorize, Furniture and Housewares, Hats, Holidays, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, TV/Radio

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Income Tax Day and a Mr T. Bank

I pity the fool who doesn’t dig all the way down into his/her pockets on this, the most dreaded of days, Income Tax Day, and cough up what little is left in the coffers. Don’t get me started on this topic, how none of the greedy, disgusting suits have been prosecuted for turning the world upside down, leaving the rest of us to walk around with this same bewildered Mr. T look on our faces as the calendar strikes 4/15, or as it is this year, 17.

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Categories: Celebrity, Financial, Hair, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Toy, TV/Radio

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Allee Willis Marches On Detroit! Part 4, The Telway Diner

You know from the front it’s got to be something. The little 1930′s castle with the 1950′s aluminum awning where you know it couldn’t possibly be, as the sign promises, the “best coffee in town”, but anyplace that still sells it for 45¢ has possibilities. The sign across the parking lot is promising too. The thin little hamburger dripping with one slice of American cheese. That’s the only way to go for me at McDonald’s, the thin original hamburger so the grease and pickle juice soak into the bun just enough for the cheese to co-star in a swirly meatified mix. 4H AMBURGERS for $2.25 is too much to resist.

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Categories: Architecture, Detroit, Food, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Place, Travel

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