Known locally so far as "that shipping container place," Detroit Shipping Company is ready for its soft launch Friday after months — years, even — of buzz surrounding the Cass Corridor business.
Simply, it's a two-level, indoor/outdoor event space and a food hall. There will be (deep breath) five independent food businesses, two bars, a coffee and ice cream shop, art gallery, beer garden, performance stage, podcast studio and print shop, all housed inside re-purposed, steely blue shipping containers.
When the food hall hosts a soft launch Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. at 474 Peterboro, the bar and three of the restaurants are expected to be up and running, with two more eateries and the coffee house to roll out in the following weeks.
Located within view of the Peterboro restaurant, Founders Taproom and the future home of Jim Brady's Midtown location, the Shipping Company can seat 200 inside and 200 outside in an all-season courtyard with a beer garden and performance stage. Get rid of the long tables outside where the stage is, and there's standing room for 350-400.
Made up of 22 shipping containers in all, the family-friendly, 10,000-square-foot destination is helmed by owners Jon Hartzell and Jim Therkalsen.
The best-known restaurant coming to this space is likely Coop, one of the new Detroit restaurants from nationally known chef Max Hardy. (Last August he opened River Bistro in the Rosedale Park area.) Coop is set to be open for Friday's debut, serving 24-hour marinated chicken and Caribbean-fusion cuisine.
Bangkok 96 Street Food from chef Genevieve Vang will serve Southeast Asian-inspired street food. This is an offshoot of Vang's Bangkok 96 Restaurant in Dearborn.
Chef Petro Drakopoulos, who is also director of operations at Shipping Co., is behind the Mexican/Spanish joint Brujo Tacos & Tapas. There, he'll serve tacos made with steak, lamb, chicken, goat and grasshopper — yep, the insect (this is a thing now so go ahead and get used to it) — plus tapas and seafood plates such as smoked whitefish caviar and octopus in olive oil.
"We're doing nontraditional Mexican tacos and Spanish small plates and we're a completely halal kitchen," said Drakopoulos of Brujo, who is also chef and owner of Republica in Berkley. "From what I know, I'm the first Greek-Orthodox Christian chef to open up a halal taco spot in America ... only in Detroit."
Those three restaurants are expected to be up and running for Friday's debut, with cafe -320 Coffee & Creamery (coffee, liquid nitrogen ice cream and more), Motorburger (burgers and poutine) and sandwiches from Bread Meets Bread to come. The latter two businesses are from Windsor, and are caught up in border issues. Shipping Company owners say those two should be ready to open by July 30.
Drakopoulos says the Detroit Shipping Company is a unique opportunity for Detroiters to experience the food hall concept, if they haven't already in other cities.
"You can have this variety of food all in one spot," he said. "It's a lot more than just a restaurant ... the best way to describe it in my opinion is that it's an event space, but it caters to individuals who now live and work and play in Detroit. You can come in here and have a different restaurant every single day of the week, you can enjoy our bar and enjoy our outdoor area."
There will be two bars with beverages to help you wash down all this food. Expect craft beer and mixed drinks, but nothing too upscale (drinks will be served in plastic cups, for example). An additional "promo bar" will be occupied by a different craft brewery each week. Falling Down Brewery is set to be featured on soft opening weekend, and Short's Brewing Company and California's Lagunitas Brewing Company are on deck.
Co-owner Hartzell said they're going to try to program the music to tie into the craft beer in the promo bar. The stage in the outdoor courtyard is highlighted with a Where the Wild Things Are-inspired mural by Detroit artist SLAW.
More art will be found in an upper level art gallery above the main dining hall. Hartzell says the first artist with works on display will be Alphonso Cox. The gallery space could also be curtained off for private showings and events.
Visit detroitshippingcompany.com for more information.