5 Downtown “Grand” Openings Since COVID-19

Last week marked one year since the Coronavirus Pandemic began. Although many life occasions and events were postponed or canceled altogether, downtown Detroit witnessed a series of quiet openings that otherwise would have been met with fanfare.

Here are five such Detroit-newcomers that have already added value to the city.

(Spoiler Alert: none of them are major brands or chains.)

– Olin Bar & Kitchen –

Situated within the old PuppetART Theater Building at Grand River and Parker’s Alley, Olin Bar & Kitchen entered Detroit’s dining scene way back in September. Brought to you by Holly McClain, Olin also features a walkup window called TWIST that specializes in pretzels and ice cream floats.

American cuisine with Spanish and Mediterranean influences, this brasserie’s selection of small plates and main courses leave you satisfied and entertained. Trust me, I know from experience.

– Shelby –

Isn’t adaptive reuse great? Taking something that served one function and adapting it for something completely different? That’s exactly what the owner of Shelby, Tarun Kajeepeta, did with the basement of the U.S. Mortgage Bond Building on Shelby Street.

Constructed in 1925, the structure once housed deposits in its mammoth bank vault but today you can dine in them. A cocktail bar and restaurant, Shelby’s labor-intensive drinks and no-fluff dishes are served to patrons on velvet seats. A blast from the past and glimpse into the future, you can’t dine there without feeling like a million bucks.

– Three Thirteen –

Due the number of companies that changed their business models during the COVID-19 pandemic, “pivot” was selected as the word of the year by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and pivot is exactly what Three Thirteen did.

Located within Parker’s Alley, Three Thirteen’s heavily stocked store offers original apparel and local brands at great prices.

When foot traffic slowed at their Avenue of Fashion location last spring, the business took their merchandise online and they even grew their clientele. When Bedrock Detroit offered to bring the venture downtown, owner Clement Brown jumped at the opportunity.

– Coffee Down Under –

In the last 10 years, Detroit has seen an influx of café’s and bakeshops. With their own takes and twists on the age-old wake-up juice, the people of Detroit just can’t get enough.

Now situated in the same U.S. Mortgage Bond Building that houses Shelby, Coffee Down Under is, as you might expect, an Australian-style coffee bar. With coffee straight from Melbourne, Australia, Coffee Down Under specializes in shots of Ristretto (short for “restricted espresso”), a concentrated espresso that lands a heck of a punch. So… be careful?

– The Press/321 –

Rounding out this list is downtown’s newest residential high-rise experience. Located within the former home of the Detroit Free Press, The Press/321 started leasing out its 105 units back in the fall.

Still with incredible amenities to come later this year, like a rooftop pool and automated parking, the $113 million rehab has breathed new life into the 14-story, Albert Kahn masterpiece.

All this because nothing stops Detroit. Nothing.


Jeff Brown is a Program Manager for Rock Ventures. Ann Arbor raised and East Lansing educated, Jeff has lived in Detroit since 2013. Follow @motownjeffbrown for his Motor City exposés and digital shorts.

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