The Detroit Skinny

Get the skinny on restaurants, events, attractions and much more in and around Metro Detroit.

Masonic Temple. Detroit, MI Wedding Photography - Angela + Dan - © Matt and Ashley Photography - http://mattandashleyphoto.com


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Ideas for Detroit Wedding Photography Locations

Bridal parties of all shapes, sizes and David’s Bridal color palettes are an almost daily sighting across greater downtown during wedding season in Michigan.

If you’re hoping to use the Motor City as the backdrop for your wedding photos, you’ll first have to decide what matters most to you. The typical jam-packed wedding day itinerary will allow you to capture only a selection of what Detroit has to offer.

Here are just a few ideas of the hot spots Detroit has to offer for wedding day photo opps:

  • Music and entertainment: The Fox Theatre and Fillmore, located in the heart of downtown, make for amazing photos on Woodward Ave. Just please don’t be those people who hold up traffic. Other options include the historic Music Hall, Detroit Opera House, Max M. Fisher Music Center, and just a bit away from downtown is the legendary Motown Museum.
  • Arts and culture: On the steps of the Detroit Institute of Arts is a great place for photos, as is the Detroit Public Library Main Branch. The rotunda inside the Charles H. Wright Museum is also beautiful. Other museums with cool visuals include the Detroit Historical Museum and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle.
  • Architecture: Did you know Detroit was known as the “Paris of the Midwest” for its architecture? If cool buildings are on your list, you’ll want to check out the Guardian Building, the Penobscot, the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Masonic Temple or the old Wayne County Building.
  • Beers and bars: If there’s one thing Detroit has a lot of, it’s cool bars and breweries. Some to consider for photo options include Cliff Bells, Two James Distillery, Atwater Brewery, Hopcat, Detroit Beer Company and Grand Trunk Pub.
  • Murals and street art: There are too many to name, but you can find a lot of my favorites in Eastern Market and along the Dequindre Cut. Here’s a great story from the Detroit Free Press showing some of the must-see murals.
  • Famous landmarks and views: You’ve got the Spirit of Detroit and the Fist of Joe Louis, the fountains at Campus Martius Park, the iconic GM Renaissance Center, Michigan Central Station, and of course the 5+ miles of the Detroit RiverFront with views of the Ambassador Bridge and Belle Isle. I highly recommend photos taken on Belle Isle, since you can get pictures of the Detroit skyline and also check out the aquarium, the conservatory and the beautiful MacArthur Bridge.
  • Sports: Fans of course won’t want to miss Comerica Park, Ford Field, old Tiger Stadium or Joe Louis Arena.

Keep in mind some of these options may not be a good idea depending on your wedding date (ex. a home game or events on Belle Isle).

Plan, plan, plan ahead! And also, invest in good photographers. Shout out to our amazingly talented wedding photographers Matt and Ashley Photography. Check out some of the places in Detroit we visited on our wedding day below.

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What other places around greater downtown Detroit would you recommend for wedding photos?

Note: Photography policies are different for almost every location. You will need to call ahead to confirm any requirements or limitations with the location in advance. Some venues ask that you give notice for security purposes, while others might charge for professional photography use. It’s better to be safe than sorry and coordinate ahead of time. Some photographers will handle this for you.

 

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Granite City Food & Brewery Opens in Downtown Detroit

*Disclosure: I was invited to attend a pre-opening mock service event at Granite City earlier this month. My food was complimentary, my booze was not. This blog post contains my own thoughts and opinions!

Even though I work downtown, I don’t get over to the RenCen nearly as much as I should. I take for granted how cool of a building it really is, and just how much there is to explore within those towers. I mean, the place even has it’s own ZIP code.

I had the chance to check out the new Granite City location inside Tower 100. If you’re not familiar with the RenCen, GC faces Jefferson Ave. right near the Marriott hotel valet area and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

The place is huge and beautiful inside. There is a ton of table and booth seating, a large bar/lounge area (great happy hour space!) as well as room for private events. Seems like it’d be a good option for larger groups, which can sometimes be a hassle at some of the smaller places that get packed quickly.

Also, downtown patio dining options just got way better. Granite City has a massive patio that takes up the whole front area of the restaurant facing Jefferson Avenue. Talk about a cool view of the hustle and bustle of downtown. The bar manager said they’ll be planning some cool stuff around Opening Day and other downtown events, so I’m looking forward to checking it out when warmer temps arrive.

I went with the grilled chicken and asparagus linguini and shared some of the bison burger with a friend. Both were delicious. Our server was helpful with pairing different beer selections with menu items, but I opted for a classic beer flight to get a taste of everything. I liked the Broad Axe Stout the best.

The skinny: Granite City Food & Brewery is now open in downtown Detroit inside the GM Ren Cen. Check it out for a happy hour with coworkers or a casual dinner on the town. There’s plenty of parking at the garages around the RenCen, but they’re not always the most affordable option depending on when you go. You could always park a bit further (Greektown or Bricktown area) and take the PeopleMover to the Renaissance Center stop.

 

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A Visit to the Fowling Warehouse in Detroit

Just over a year since The Fowling Warehouse‘s official Hamtramck grand opening, I finally had a chance to give it a shot.

Fowling is a game that blends football, bowling and horseshoes. The basic idea is to knock down the opposing team’s bowling pins by throwing a football at them from across the lane. If it sounds easy, it isn’t. But it’s definitely fun!

Much like other tailgate games, you have to get the hang of your stance, style and technique. Your team’s fate also depends on your defensive reaction time in guarding your pins, so you’ll want to wear flat or athletic shoes.

They don’t serve food, but you can bring your own or have something delivered. If you want to start your night out with dinner on the town, I’d recommend Detroit’s Original Buddy’s Pizza on Conant St. or Polish Village Cafe (cash only), which are both nearby.

Other highlights of The Fowling Warehouse include:

  • Live music
  • A full bar and solid craft beer selection (draft and bottle)
  • A mystery beer vending machine

Open fowling is $10 per person, but you may have to wait a while since the lanes are shared (think pool hall). Reserving lanes is best if you have more than a few people and want to play as a group ($120 for up to 10 people for two hours).

You might get a little turned around finding the place for the first time, especially after dark. It’s a warehouse. To get there, it’s almost like making a U-turn onto Christopher St. from Conant St. My phone GPS didn’t quite register that.

THE SKINNY: Fowling is an amazing game concept and awesome idea for a good time out with friends. It gets really busy, so your best bet is to make a reservation. Eat beforehand or bring your own food, and remember to wear flat shoes. The Fowling Warehouse is located in Hamtramck, about two miles from I-75 and about a 10-minute drive from downtown. Parking is free. For information visit www.fowlingwarehouse.com

Have you been to The Fowling Warehouse? What did you think of it?


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DIY Letterpress Wedding Invitations at Detroit’s Signal-Return

Placing the ink on the roller. You have to be careful not to put too much ink, and also to make sure the ink is evenly distributed on the plate.

Placing the ink on the roller. You have to be careful not to put too much ink, and also to make sure the ink is evenly distributed on the plate.

With less than three months until the big day, we’ve I’ve been super busy hammering out all the fun details. Like many couples, we’re on a budget and I’m totally about DIY when it comes to a lot of the wedding stuff because I enjoy being creative and crafty, plus you can certainly save a few bucks!

After first being introduced to Signal-Return while browsing Eastern Market one Saturday morning, I stopped in to learn more about possibly making our own letterpress wedding invitations. With the help of Signal-Return’s amazing Printer in Residence, Ms. Lee Marchalonis, we were able to create the most beautiful invitations that are uniquely our own. We learned so much along the way and we couldn’t have done it without her guidance and expertise – thank you again, Lee!!

The process of DIY letterpress invitations is a bit extensive, so I tried to break it down into a few key steps based on our experience:

  • Design your invitations: I looked to sites like Pinterest and Etsy for inspiration and created our own design in Photoshop. Remember to stick to standard sizes so you have envelopes to put your invitation in.
  • Order your letterpress plates: Thanks to the wonderful folks at Boxcar who helped me through this part. Since I’m not a graphic designer, prepping the plates for printing was a little challenging, but their customer service was amazing and they helped me figure it out quickly and easily. Your plates are shipped directly to your door and then you need to…
  • Order your paper and envelopes: The folks at Signal-Return introduced me to French Paper, which is a family-owned and Michigan-based paper mill. We chose the Madero Beach paper in 140 lb. I highly recommend stopping by SR to look at paper samples before you order because many of colors look differently online. For extra savings, we ordered the larger size so we could print several pieces of our invitation on one sheet of paper. I also chose a heavier stock to show the debossing of the text more (tip: letterpress does not necessarily mean you’ll feel impressions on the final piece – some letterpress shows little or no impression).
  • Set up guided shop time: Sign up for guided shop time ($45 per hour) where you’ll get to work directly with Lee and she’ll show you the ropes of setting up the press, choosing your ink (you get to mix your own color!), and the actual printing process. She was there to instruct us and answer questions, but we were definitely doing the dirty work of creating the invitations, which was very cool. Overall printing took us about 3.5 hours.
  • Wait for them to dry: You won’t be able to take your invitations home the same day. You have to let the ink dry, and then comes the fun part…
  • Measuring your invitations: As I mentioned above, we set up our plates so we could get four pieces on one plate (the invitation, two versions of the response card and a guest info card). While this saved on some production costs and paper, it also meant we needed to cut each of the pieces to the right margins. Drawing straight lines and getting the margins just right was what I consider to be the challenging part of the whole process. But then again, math isn’t my strong suit.
  • Cutting your invitations: Once your lines are drawn you get to use the guillotine (yes, it’s called a guillotine!) to cut your invitations to your envelope size. There’s a little pressure when it comes to pulling the handle down upon your masterpiece after you’ve put in so much work (I kept thinking: what if I cut it wrong and ruin it!). Don’t worry, the machine prevents the paper from sliding and creates a very straight, clean cut. But we didn’t just have a couple cuts. Each piece had four edges to be trimmed..times four pieces…times 150 sets. Needless to say my arm got a workout. I actually hired Lee to finish the rest off for me after exhausting my bicep within two hours.
  • Making sure they (actually) fit in the envelopes: Picking up our invitations was so exciting! It was such a cool feeling to see our concept come to life in a way that we could see, hold and share with our loved ones. Once we brought the invitations home we made sure they actually fit in our envelopes (they did, whew!). Then of course came the stuffing, labeling and stamping of each set.

I would highly encourage brides-to-be to consider printing lettepress invitations at Signal-Return. Just be sure to leave enough time for designing your piece, shipping the plates, ordering paper, cutting, etc. I’d say it’s not really something you can do on the fly.

Here is a look at our experience with DIY letterpress wedding invitations. I had absolutely no experience with letterpress prior to working with Signal-Return, so thank you again Lee for all of your help!

The Skinny: Making your own letterpress invitations is an amazing and fun experience, but it can be a lot of work. If you’re not the kind of bride who is willing to invest time, this might not be the best option for you (you could always have them printed for you at Signal-Return!) In terms of cost, there was definitely a savings for us compared to buying quality letterpress invitations, but if you’re looking for quick and dirt cheap invites this is not the answer. Signal-Return is located on Division Street in Eastern Market. Stop by to learn more about what they do or visit www.signalreturnpress.org.


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Republic breathes new life into Detroit’s GAR castle

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“The Devil Wears Prado” (Credit: Detroit Skinny).

If you’ve driven down Grand River in Detroit, you might’ve looked up and wondered what in the heck a castle is doing in the middle of downtown. More on that later. For now, I’m so excited that one of Detroit’s coolest buildings, the GAR Detroit, welcomed its first visitors last week after sitting empty for more than 30 years.

Today, the GAR building is home to one of Detroit’s newest restaurants, Republic. The restaurant is touted as an “old world European tavern” with a focus on local and seasonal items. I stopped by Republic with coworkers for a quick happy hour last week and was definitely impressed. It was so cool to see the place packed on a Thursday evening, less than a week after officially opening its doors.

Everything about the experience at Republic seemed carefully crafted. Aside from the totally classy interior, the food and drinks had their own artistic flair. We shared several menu items between our group, including the Ploughman’s Platter (sampler), the bone marrow fritters and the lamb loin.

There wasn’t anything I tasted that I didn’t want more of! I really loved the bone marrow fritters which were fluffy, rich, buttery, goodness. My favorite cocktail was “The Devil Wears Prado,” featuring tequila with chili-infused grenadine. So delicious!

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Republic is located within the historic GAR Detroit building on Grand River downtown. (Credit: Detroit Skinny).

I definitely want to go back again for full meal, including the Brown Bread Ice Cream that seems to be popular on Yelp.

The skinny: Republic is a great place for a classier take on happy hour, dinner before the theater or a romantic date night (they currently open at 5pm). Although on the pricier side, it’s certainly not unreasonable for what you get. The GAR is a quick hop off of the Fisher Freeway and street parking is available.

Oh right, about the castle part. The building gets its name from the Grand Army of the Republic, which according to the Library of Congress, was the “preeminent veterans’ organization formed at the close of the Civil War.” The building was a center for GAR meetings and veterans’ activities. You can learn more about the history of the GAR building from Historic Detroit or take a peek inside the renovation process (and other coming attractions within the building!) by following the GAR Detroit blog.

Have you been to Republic? What’s your favorite dish or drink on the menu?


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Filmed in Detroit: Ryan Gosling’s Lost River Trailer Released

Detroit's Brewster Douglas Projects can be spotted in the Lost River official trailer. Photo credit: Bryan Debus (flickr).

Detroit’s Brewster Douglass Projects can be spotted in the Lost River official trailer. Photo credit: Bryan Debus (flickr).

I spent much of the summer of 2013 stalking, ahem…searching for…Ryan Gosling in Detroit. He was in The D to direct his film How To Catch a Monster (since re-titled Lost River) and built up quite the following while in the Motor City.

The fantasy thriller hits theaters April 10, 2015 and Warner Brothers recently released the movie’s official trailer. Stars include Eva Mendez, Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan (the girl from Lovely Bones) and Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith.

While in Detroit, the crew was spotted all around town including the Brewster Douglass Projects, the Masonic Temple and Belle Isle. Gosling also became a regular at Cafe D’Mongos.

Despite the fact that the film didn’t wow critics at Cannes, I still plan to check it out. Although the part of the trailer with a bloody Eva Mendez is a little creepy. I love watching movies filmed in The D and keeping an eye out for local landmarks (looking at you Transformers 4).

This is the closest I got to catching Ryan at  Cafe D'Mongo's in Detroit.

This is the closest I got to catching Ryan at Cafe D’Mongo’s in Detroit.

I should add I came very close to achieving my ultimate goal of meeting Ryan at the crew’s wrap party at The Magic Stick. Sadly, I was on the other side of a black curtain and a handful of bouncers. Ah well. #ComeBackRyan

The Skinny: Ryan Gosling’s filmed-in-Detroit movie Lost River premiers this April. I vote it’s worth a watch to catch Gosling’s directorial debut and because of the pretty solid cast. Do you plan to see it?

Check out the trailer here:

Photo credit: Bryan Debus Flickr


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Welcome to The Detroit Skinny

NiceThingsFor about a year now I’ve been making excuses why I haven’t been able to dedicate the time to start my own blog, but that ends tonight. Welcome to my new blog, The Detroit Skinny.

I want this site to be a resource for those who live, work, play or are just curious about Detroit, but are just looking for the quick rundown on town — the skinny, if you will.

Growing up just outside of Detroit and having worked and/or lived in the city for a collective six years, I’ve developed a passion for all of the great things going on in The D. I’m hardly a Detroit veteran (trust me, there are plenty!), but I do enjoy helping people get to know Detroit based on my firsthand experience.

 

Here are some things I love that will probably be recurring themes on my blog:

  • The City of Detroit, its landmarks and unique neighborhoods.
  • Food, Detroit restaurants and cooking (sometimes).
  • Craft beer, Michigan breweries, cocktails, wine and bars in general.
  • Fitness, running and trying my best to achieve good health (don’t confuse me with a health nut).
  • Traveling and exploring the Motor City through photography.
  • Nonprofits and organizations doing great things in Detroit.

I promise to give you honest thoughts/feedback on things in Detroit that I have actually experienced or am genuinely interested in. If you have any questions or tips about Detroit-centric news, send me a Tweet at @AngelaHernandez.