Petty Cash, a “casual upscale” restaurant, opens on Fashion Avenue in Detroit
Petty Cash, a new American restaurant that draws inspiration from the heritage of Black Southern culinary traditions, is gearing up to open Thursday, July 7, bringing an “upscale casual” dining experience to Fashion Avenue. The spot, at 20050 Livernois, is run by three veterans of the local food scene, including Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles founder and former NFL player Ron Bartell.
The 2,800 square foot Green Acres neighborhood restaurant is the latest restaurant to hit the ever-growing dining scene along Livernois. Co-founder Kelly McBride said he and Bartell had been working for nearly four years to find the perfect fit for neighborhood restaurant Green Acres. The duo were interested in bringing a more upscale option to an area that McBride said was historically best known for fast food options. In recent years, that’s started to change with places like Bartell’s original restaurant, Kuzzo’s, serving as something of a catalyst to inspire other, more contemporary places to move into the neighborhood. Others involved in the partnership include Art Hicks and Rufus Bartell.
“I live in the neighborhood and saw that when I turned around the corner I only saw fast food, but I had to go to Midtown or Birmingham or Royal Oak to get what I like” , explains McBride. “We wanted to put what we love in the neighborhood. Why should we travel outside our neighborhood to get what we love? »
McBride says he started life in the kitchen as a teenager doing a summer job at the Plum Hollow Country Club in the 90s. That gig turned into a lifelong career, including a restaurant business that helped pay for his culinary studies, and eventually forays into real estate investing.
McBride says his days as a full-time chef are mostly over, but to run the kitchen he and Bartell have turned to an emerging name on the local scene, Dominic McCord, whose previous experiences include working as a sous- chef at Bacco in Southfield, chef de cuisine at Maru in downtown Detroit, and stays at Leila and Phenicia – both founded by loyal Lebanese restaurateurs Sameer and Samy Eid. McCord first met Bartell in the winter of 2020 and at that time, he says — like many restaurant workers over the past two years — he had considered leaving the industry altogether.
What changed her mind was hearing Bartell’s vision for the restaurant. The two got to know each other over food, quickly bonded, and eventually McCord was hired as a partner in the business. McCord says her grandmother had also lived in the area, which made opening in the neighborhood all the more appealing.
It was also an opportunity for McCord, who is African American, to join the growing number of black chefs who are taking over Detroit restaurants, not just working as employees supporting the creative visions of owned establishments. to white people downtown and in the suburbs.
In describing Petty Cash’s food, McCord describes her as a new American through the lens of her black southern roots (her family hailed from Arkansas and Alabama) and her previous work experiences. For example, instead of using pork chops, Petty Cash uses lamb chops. The chef uses Southern cooking techniques, but incorporates pomegranate molasses for his barbecue sauce or roasted cumin and turmeric instead of the more traditional dry rubs diners might be more accustomed to. Other menu items include a variety of seasonal vegan and vegetarian options, smoked meats, and seafood.
“My goal is just to introduce different cuts of meat, introduce different vegetables, introduce different cooking techniques, make sense of it all, and give people a different experience,” McCord says.
Behind the bar is Hawaiian-born beverage manager Kamalani Ingersoll, who McBride says previously served as a bartender at Bad Luck Bar, Flowers of Vietnam, Monarch Club and elsewhere. For food and beverages, as many ingredients as possible will be made in-house or sourced locally. McBride also says that in terms of hospitality, diners can expect servers and bartenders to educate them on the techniques and context of all menu items, one step at a time to help customers feel comfortable and to familiarize them with their philosophy.
The restaurant’s black, green and gold interior is the work of Black-owned design firm Urban Alterscape, which also designed the interior of Baobab Fare and was developed by R&J Development. The place can accommodate 81 people inside and 42 in an enclosed patio. One of the exterior brick walls features a mural that says “Black Dollars Matter,” created by artist Desiree Kelly.
As for the name, when McBride and Bartell started brainstorming ideas, the duo wanted a name that conveyed that upscale, laid-back vibe.
“Ron and I were talking and we threw [ideas] around, like, we didn’t want to be too expensive, but we’re also not trying to be cheap either,” McBride says. “It’s more like, come spend some money and have a good time.”