Chef Max Hardy Plans to Open Two New Restaurants in Detroit
When head chef Max Hardy returned to Detroit in 2017 after working as a private chef for athletes and celebrities, he wanted to make a name for himself on the culinary scene with not one, but three new restaurants. While it took a lot longer and was more challenging than originally thought, Hardy now has two new projects in the works in addition to the Caribbean restaurant Coop at the Detroit Shipping Company.
The more casual of the two projects, What’s Crackin ‘, will hit the Avenue of Fashion near Seven Mile this fall, initially in a popup form with an official opening in 2021. Hardy is working on the project with Ron Bartell. A former Detroit Lion, real estate investor and owner of Kuzzos Chicken & Waffles. Together they are developing a neighborhood take-away restaurant dedicated to cooked, fried and grilled seafood. According to Hardy, the menu particularly focuses on customizable seafood cookings. Customers can choose the desired mix of seafood in their pocket and choose a sauce flavor. Hardy’s own line of spices, Chef Max Signature Spice Blends, will also be available. The restaurant will have limited seating and will have a terrace next summer.
The second project on Hardy’s plate is the long-awaited Honey, an Afro-Caribbean restaurant he’s been teasing since 2017. Hardy has since signed a lease in downtown Harmonie Park, an area where many Detroit properties have been black-owned in the past. Due to the significant cost of the project – more than a million dollars – and the financial and logistical circumstances of the pandemic, Honey is currently on hold. The chef estimates it could not open until next spring at the earliest, depending on the viability of a novel coronavirus vaccine.
When it opens, Honey will have a speakeasy-style lounge in the basement with an 85-seat dining room and an open kitchen on the main level. Two cooking tables and an area for the production of podcasts will also be set up in the dining room. The mezzanine floor of the restaurant offers space for private meals and catering. The chef awaits a menu with options like jollof rice, toasted jerk branzino, and curries. Hardy is in the process of renovating the space and meeting with decorators so that the restaurant will be ready when the food gets a little more welcoming again.
Currently, Hardy manages the day-to-day unpredictability of the Coop grocery stall’s operation during the socially distant summer on planet earth. According to Hardy, sales in the restaurant have fallen by around 40 to 50 percent compared to previous years. At the same time, he deals with increased costs for personal protective equipment, meat and take-out containers. “We tried to work that through and see how we could keep trying to get more business,” he says. “It was a challenge.”
Currently, the Detroit Shipping Company is offering expanded outdoor seating and a beach experience to create more space for alfresco dining. He says the business seems to be picking up speed again. The restaurant currently offers a mix of dining, takeaway and delivery seating.
Hardy isn’t sure how many stores will stay open in the fall and winter. “I don’t see many restaurants, especially us, that make it [50 percent] Capacity, especially in winter, ”says Hardy. He points out that the government left behind many independent restaurant owners during this crisis. “Without this support it will be a little difficult to get through the winter.” Until now, his company has not been able to obtain any small business grant or loan.
“I can’t see my way through yet, but we will keep pushing.”
• Max Hardy will open three restaurants in Detroit next year [ED]
Fluctuating food costs are forcing some Detroit restaurants to make strict menu choices [ED]
• All co-op coverage [ED]
• All upcoming attractions [ED]
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