Where to Dine in Michigan to Support The BLM Movement

As I'm sure you're aware, political unrest has been flaring up quite a bit as of late.  Subsequently, injustices have been gaining more and more publicity as human rights are being violated by people in power.  Through all this chaos, it's important to recognize that this is beyond our political views: we are fighting against racial injustices; we are demanding human rightsTo be a true ally is not just talk.  It's about the actions and physical work you put in.  That being said, you may find yourself not knowing what to do in order to help.  While the possibilities are endless, one easy way to start is by ordering takeout at Black owned restaurants. Throughout this mitten state, there are tons of amazing food spots to dine at in order to support the BLM movement in Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and more.  Think about the type of world you want to live in, and don't turn a blind eye to this critical cause.  Here's your guide on where to dine in Michigan to support this movement.

Baker's Keyboard Lounge

Opening in 1933, Baker's Keyboard Lounge is the world's oldest jazz club and is a historical site that continues to bring in tourists as well as lovers of music from all over this mitten state.  Their menu is pretty inclusive to vegetarians, people with food allergies, as well as to people looking for some really great soul food.  Their menu items include things like chicken, ribs, steak, fish, veggie combos, and more.  With more than great food and beverages, Baker's Keyboard Lounge is the perfect night out.  In normal conditions (aka no COVID-19 spikes) they have tons of events like comedy nights and live music.  As for the time being, they're doing carryouts as well as allowing a limited capacity of guests to dine in and enjoy the live performances.  On their website, you can see that one of their regular performers for 2020 is Isis Damil (Detroit's musical treasure).  Make a reservation this summer and get a taste of Detroit's historical site, while enjoying live music.

Detroit Vegan Soul

This highly successful business was began by Erika Boyd and Kristen Ussery in 2012, after the loss of Erika's father due to cancer only a few years prior to opening.  It became their mission to create a place where organically grown whole foods could be accessible to everyone.  Some examples of what you might order include appetizers and sides like mac-&-cheese, fried rice, collard greens, steamed broccoli, coleslaw, or fried tofu.  Entrées that might interest you are things like gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs, a sweet & sour tofu bowl, a seitan pepper steak, or a BBQ tofu sandwich.  Detroit Vegan Soul is 100% plant based and 100% delicious.  There are two branches of Detroit Vegan Soul: East and West.  Detroit Vegan Soul East is currently closed due to COVID-19, but check their website for updates!  West is located at 19614 Grand River Ave. Detroit, MI — 48223, and they're open for curbside pickup and online orders.  

Good Cakes & Bakes

This bakeshop came to be in 2013, and is co-owned by a pastry chef who was born and raised in Detroit. Whether you've got a birthday coming up, or you're just craving something sweet, this is your opportunity to do good and order from an amazing business like this one.  Satisfy your sweet tooth while supporting the BLM movement, as well as the LGBTQIA+ community by ordering from Good Cakes & Bakes.  They've got cakes (duh), puddings, granolas, cupcakes, cookies, and more!  They've even got some vegan (V) and gluten-free sweets as well as savory soups.  All their food is made gourmet and from scratch.  Some of their most popular cupcake flavors include lemon, Frutti Pebbles, carrot (V), vanilla (V), chocolate (V), and red velvet (V).  Additionally, you may enjoy their cinnamon rolls, cheesecakes, blueberry or chocolate chip muffins (V), scones, brownies (V), or cookies of many varieties.  Try some of these treats out, so you know what flavor of cake you'll want to order for your next {birthday} party.

Ima Noodles

Ima in Japanese Kanji means "now", as in "in the moment".  Head chef and restaurant owner, Mike Ransom believes that food is your chance to "escape from reality" and enjoy sitting in your safe space at the table.  After starting as a full-time chef and part-time DJ in Detroit, he decided to attend culinary school in Chicago.  After that, he worked in California for sometime until finally returning to the mitten in search of finding a space he could truly feel at home.  After some disappointments and setbacks, Ransom's hard work had finally paid off.  Ima's debut was toward the end of 2016, and it continues to blow up to this day.  This restaurant is loaded with tons of menu items that are sure to satisfy you and your party.  Chef Ransom grew up vegetarian, so he learned some great techniques on how to make tofu taste amazing; even to omnivores (that takes skill).  Ima has tons of publicity and positive reviews from all sorts of different articles, so if you don't believe me, check out the articles featured on their website.  They have three different locations in Michigan, all of them serving Japanese-style dishes made with traditional French techniques.  They've also mentioned serving some limited-edition craft cocktails from North Pier Brewing Company, as featured on their instagram.  Call ahead of time to make sure the Madison Heights, Midtown, and Corktown locations are all still open for dine in.  Their newly expanded outdoor patios have arrived just in time for summer, so stop by and enjoy the fresh food and fresh air.  If not, you'll get to enjoy their dining area soon; until then, carryout and delivery are your best friends.

Ivy Kitchen + Cocktails

This snazzy brunch spot is owned by someone that is extremely dedicated and diligent.  Nya Marshall is a mom, an engineer, an entrepreneur, and so much more.  She's essentially the epitome of a hardworking and inspirational woman.  Marshall decided to open her restaurant on the Eastside in order to bring something elegant to the community she grew up very close to.  She wanted to bring food to a very food-insecure area, as well as inspiration to an area consisting of small businesses.  Due to recent events caused by COVID-19, businesses such as this one have been facing difficulties.  Go out to brunch this weekend in Detroit for a relaxing and delicious start to your day.  Ivy Kitchen + Cocktails is open for brunch, cocktails, mocktails, dinner, wine, and dessert.  With food items ranging from french toast, smoked salmon and eggs, and chicken and waffles, to shrimp linguine pomodoro, buffalo cauliflower, and short rib stroganoff, you're sure to find multiple menu items that you'll be coming back several times to try.  They take reservations, as well as host your special events; so keep that in mind for your anniversary dinner or your closest buddy's birthday.  If you'd rather eat at home due to the pandemic, that's perfectly understandable- place a carryout order and binge your favorite shows at home.  To keep restaurants like this one alive, you can donate to projects such as this one during these times of uncertainty.

Kingston Kitchen 

Kingston Kitchen serves up modern Jamaican cuisine from scratch with quality ingredients.  Their menu includes a kid's menu, a drink menu, and tons of lunch and dinner options.  Some menu items include jerk mushroom & onion, Hanover gumbo, coconut curry chicken, and jerk seared salmon.  They've also got vegetarian options like Westmoreland risotto, Jamaican Rasta pasta, The Jamaican Michigander salad, and the jack fruit sandwich.  Chef Shawn brought his traditional way of cooking and his dreams of opening a restaurant all the way from Jamaica to Okemos, Michigan.  He began his culinary journey by attending culinary school at the HEART College of Hospitality Services in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, he began work on Mackinac Island.  After spending some time on the island, he decided to head to Okemos to open Kingston Kitchen.  These traditional flavors are thoughtfully crafted by a culinary expert who flew almost 2,000 miles to live his dream.  Unfortunately, they are closed due to COVID-19 for the time being.  However, check their website frequently so you can be among the first to stop by and get a real taste of Jamaica.  

Le Petit Dejeuner "The Breakfast"

Owner Tina Motley opened this hotspot for brunch in this particular location fairly recently.  Known for amazing sweet and savory breakfast options, her establishment has already gained tons of publicity.  Le Petit Dejeuner "The Breakfast" is a french themed dining experience, serving breakfast and brunch items that anyone would enjoy.  The menu includes things like omelettes, caramelized banana toast, maple glazed bacon & sausage, poached eggs, and much more.  According to their Facebook page, they accept takeout and carryout orders at the moment due to the pandemic.  Additionally, Motley's restaurant has hosted events such as baby showers and birthday parties.  Bring home breakfast for the family, or order takeout for a cute gathering with your friends.

Sleepin Beauty Bakery

Sleepin Beauty Bakery in Lansing, Michigan caters for gatherings, businesses, and sugary cravings in general.  This establishment provides baked goods like cookies, cakes, brownies, candies, pies and so much more.  The owner, Donica Harrison, loves baking and boosting the spirits of others with her beautiful pastries.  After many years of experience, she is the expert to call whenever you're in need of something sweet.  The next time you're thinking about ordering a bunch of cookies for a wedding or grad party, consider giving Sleepin Beauty Bakery a call and seeing what types of sweets you might enjoy trying.  If you're still not sold, here's just a few favorites of her clients: red velvet cookies, lemon cheesecake, pecan pie, German chocolate cake, and caramel swirl brownies.  Of course, there are many other options available- she even takes special requests!  Needless to say, Donica Harrison knows what she's doing, and she would be more than happy to be your reliable pastry chef.

Soul Nutrition

After her time as a student athlete at Olivet College, Olivia Ricketts decided she was ready to design her own space to connect with people.  The environment of this facility is often compared to that of the infamous sitcom known as TBS's "Friends".  Reviews of customers confirm the notion that Soul Nutrition is the coziest smoothie place on the block.  To summarize the reviews, the staff is amazing and the drinks are delicious.  Soul Nutrition is a healthy yet flavorful tea and shake place.  They make post-workout protein shakes, energizing teas, nutritional shakes, and more.  With enticing names like Tropic Like it's Hot, Captain Crunch PB Berries, Death by Chocolate, Wedding Cake, Blue Razz, and Roy G. Biv, they've got loads of fun beverages to give a try.  They even have a few vegan friendly choices for those with plant-based lifestyles.  The next time you're driving through Lansing, make sure to stop by and try a refreshing drink or a protein packed shake.

"The Kitchen" - By Cooking With Que

The Kitchen is Detroit's premier demonstration kitchen and contemporary shared space.  It's a 16 seat classroom where you can learn to make and taste culinary creations.  Quiana Broden is the owner of this amazing organization, which she created for vegans and meat-eaters to coexist.  She ingeniously created an at-home-environment to allow for a more comfortable and receptive learning space.  By attending a class, you can expect to be taught ways to eat healthy, regardless of your lifestyle preferences.  The Kitchen also caters to events and meetings for any occasion.  Additionally, you may order curbside pickup if you're in a hurry or if you'd rather stay at home.  They offer a mouthwatering lunch menu as well as a jaw dropping vegan brunch menu (by popular demand).  Some highlights featured on their menu include tacos, kale burgers, Mexican lasagna, cauliflower wings, apple pancakes, vegan breakfast scrambles, and more.  Visit this kitchen located in Detroit for a truly rewarding experience.

The Narrow Way Café

Who doesn't love a nice trip to the local café?  The Narrow Way Café began as a church bookstore, but was converted into something that would provide the congregation with more- nourishment, as well as an accepting and loving environment.  They offer plenty of traditional hot espresso drinks, iced coffees and teas, in addition to blended treats like frozen mochas and smoothies.  Some of their freshly baked pastries that might interest you include lemon poppyseed cake, hot cocoa cake, praline banana bread, cinnamon rolls, potato bacon strudel, and (of course) the infamous butter croissant. In continuation of what was mentioned previously, The Narrow Way Café was established in summer 2016 by two brothers who had aspirations to provide to their congregation. After their huge success, they wanted to reach an even larger population- the entire Detroit community. This café was began solely out of the pure and selfless aspirations of two brothers who simply "want to serve people, be there for people, and love people".  With their quality coffee and baked goods, they serve the people. With their friendly service and accepting environment, they are there for people.  They work hard to keep their café an accepting and relaxing space filled with good spirits and positivity.  Everyone needs comfort and words of affirmation, it's human nature; this café will give you exactly that.

Yum Village Afro-Caribbean Cuisine

This food place provides affordable meals in the form of delivery as well as quick-casual dining.  By using natural ingredients and materials in their meals and containers, Yum Village Afro-Caribbean Cuisine not only focuses on creating a positive social impact, but also on helping the environment.  Chef Godwin Ihentuge began living out his restaurant-owning aspirations in 2012, by growing his catering company into something bigger.  His organization's mission was to connect with people as well as to help new chefs get experience and find their footing.  After five years of trying out different eatery layouts, Godwin decided to open a food truck.  Once his opportunity to grow his business in a permanent space arose, he took it.  Yum Village also works to provide their employees with living wages, while also reducing their carbon foot-print and serving nutritious meals for fair prices.  Their menu includes vegetarian and vegan entrées and sides like roasted Brussels sprouts, turmeric rice, corn cakes, wontons, fries, ginger curry chickpeas, and more.  Additionally, they offer jerk chicken, suya fried shrimp, lamb, and a meatless protein called akara (Nigerian bean fritters).  If you're in town and looking for a quick meal, give this place a try.

In Summary

As I am writing this, I can honestly say that I haven't been to most of these places yet, but am very excited to.  Now that you know where to dine in Michigan to support the BLM movement, join me in trying these places and supporting this critical movement focusing on racial injustice, voting rights and suppression, education, government corruption, police brutality, LGBTQIA+, and so much more.  However you choose to educate yourself and others around you on this human rights issue, keep in mind that spreading awareness, remembering their names, and doing what you can to support the BLM movement is imperative in these times of injustice.  Spreading support in your community can be so easy, yet so helpful; whether it be by donating, protesting, signing petitions, or ordering takeout from a Black owned restaurant.  Each of these amazing establishments bring something different to the table.  Try all of them, and help keep the ball rolling.  There are tons of other Black owned businesses and restaurants out there, and I encourage you to do your research and do everything you can to support.  The so called "United States" seems so divided; it's up to you to be the change you want to see in our nation.