As if we need to list more reasons to love our city … but Why not? Here are a few places, faces, items and events that make Detroiters all happy and tingly inside.
Making peanuts ain’t small peanuts for Kar’s Nuts. This homegrown Detroit biz has been roasting nuts in the metro area and doing it with a multimillion-dollar bottom line for decades. Sample the Sweet ‘N Salty Mix, the country’s best-selling branded trail mix in 2017, and you’ll know why. It’s delicious and addictive.
This year, Kar’s gave an extra nod to its Detroit heritage, stamping all its packaging, front and back, with a new “Detroit Born” claim. Extra kudos goes to the nut maker for recently donating a large chunk of change to sponsor a flagpole at the Detroit Police Athletic League’s new stadium for kids sports programs, Corner Ballpark, which is on the site of the demolished old Tiger Stadium at Michigan and Trumbull avenues. Funny how things come full circle: Sue Kar started this whole thing by selling her roasted peanuts to Detroit Tigers fans back in 1933.
Why would a successful sculptor from New Zealand decide to set up shop in Detroit? For Robert Onnes, the guy behind the 333 Midland art space in the small Detroit enclave of Highland Park, the bigger question is: Why not? Story goes that Onnes made the trek to The D in 2012 after reading an article in The Economist about the city’s creative potential. By 2013, Onnes had bought an industrial site at 333 Midland St. in Highland Park with plans to make it his workshop/studio. By 2014, the former stamping plant on the site had been transformed into a viable center for artists of various mediums to display their work, hosting crowd-drawing exhibitions and shows.
Today, Onnes’ house of art is also home to the Annex Gallery, an artist-run space dedicated to showcasing the emerging and established talent of the Detroit and Highland Park communities.
A hot spot on the city’s DIY drink beat for a few years now, Detroit Vineyards has been producing some superior tasting vino right in the heart of The D — literally. The winery is currently housed in an existing one-story building not far from downtown’s Gleaners Community Food Bank.
This fall, the vineyard is taking its city-side presence to the next level. Founders Claes Fornell and Blake Kownacki have been renovating a large portion of the historic Stroh’s ice cream factory at 1000 Gratiot Ave. in Detroit, with plans to open it as a winery with tasting rooms.
Goes to show you that, with a little vision and lots of Motor City moxie, you can grow, harvest and transform grapes into fine wines in a concrete jungle.
Sfumato Fragrances | Castalia Cocktails
Kevin Peterson and Jane Larson noticed something when they started experimenting with injecting their Detroit fragrance company’s signature aromas within a cocktail: People liked it. They enjoyed the sniff with their sip so much that they would ask for another and then ask to take home a Sfumato fragrance, too. Now the couple’s cozy storefront in Midtown is a perfumery by day — Sfumato Fragrances — and a cocktail lounge by night — Castalia Cocktails. The two call their little unorthodox collective a “sanctuary for the senses.”
Photo Credits: Kar’s Nuts by Annie Petrilli; Robert Onnes/333 Midland by Doug Cannell; Detroit Vineyards by Julie Hill; Sfumato Fragrances by EE Berger