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Saving Hundreds of Metro Detroit Jobs

Check out this article from Crain's Detroit and column by Detroit News writer Laura Berman about the recent sale of the Matt Prentice restaurant group.

These restaurants are legendary in Metro Detroit; I have eaten many a business lunch at Prentice's nine eateries. I also have interviewed him on many occasions and found him a genuine person and truly concerned about the region's fortunes.

Prentice sold his business this month because he admits he got in over his head. The economy took over -- no one was throwing big parties or needed his catering services as much as they had in the past. Thankfully, a local CPA and attorney (Stanley Dickson Jr.) stepped up to grab the company and keep it going, maintaining some 500 or so jobs in Metro Detroit.

It's a great save -- but these are service-industry jobs. It's a great story -- but it also is depressing and feels like a bit of a PR spin has been thrown into both articles. One comment on the Crain's site calls Matt a "community activist" for his actions. I'm not so sure I'd go that far. What do you think?

The restaurants transferred from Matt Prentice Restaurant Group to Trowbridge Restaurant Group include:

• Coach Insignia
• Deli Unique West Bloomfield
• Deli Unique Bloomfield Hills
• Deli Unique Novi
• Northern Lakes Seafood Company
• No. VI Chophouse
• Plaza Deli
• Shiraz
• Tavern on 13
• Sourdough Bread Factory

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Comments (21)
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  • 1

    Why the 'BUT'... as in "...but these are service industry jobs."

    Seems to me you have just denigrated these 500 or so jobs - and given that , why even bother with a story about their having been saved.... seems like you feel like it may in fact be a not-so-good thing....

    Sorry, but I am sensing a bit of 'moral and social value' imperialism eminating from the Time House...

  • 2

    I'm not sure what alternate universe you live in, but many jobs lost were not the high paying kind. These restaurant offer jobs that in large part can be taken by those without higher education. Many jobs lost were by those without higher education. These restaurant workers are people with the least choices as to employment.

    These jobs keep people off of unemployment, which is costly for the state and federal government.

    They may not be the jobs that your close circle of friends want, but for many people, keeping these 500 jobs in the Detroit area is a very good thing.

  • 3

    Touchy touchy, maybe that's why you have so few commenters vs any other blog on TIME, NYTimes, or other publications. I guess you prefer the racist statements, as those you all seem to chuckle about, even though my guess is that is a big reason that you have so few comments.

    So insulting your commenters is a great way to show your professionalism, which really is very low. I am thinking they out y'all in Detroit in that house for punishment or to make you leave TIME? And if you remove this comment, how about you take off your infantile, insulting comment, as well???? Ms. consummate professional....

    I sure hope this blog continues to falter, as you put on "stuff" about crafts fairs that no one responds to!!!

  • 4

    Or maybe if I were a black man insulting whites, that would be OK with TIME. How do you know I'm not? Now can I say anything I want? Like that it was a white man;s plot to make Matt Prentice need financial help?

    It's a GOOD thing that these 500 jobs were saved. So they aren't high tech or engineering jobs. They're jobs, that's the point. And whites, blacks, Asians, Native Americans, Hispanics or even ex-journalists may be happy to work in one of these restaurants. it's a job. Yea!!!!

  • 5

    Look at it this way. Detroit is in a Catch-22 in that industry doesn't want to take a chance on Detroit because there's nothing there. There's nothing there because there are no jobs and no tax base. Keeping 500 people employed is a step in the right direction, and Trowbridge Restaurant Group is to be commended for taking a chance. I for one will be dining at one of their restaurants when I visit Detroit next month.

  • 6

    I am a former Detroiter who would love to see a comeback as other cities like Pittsburgh, NYC, have done and I am disappointed in the Times at the posting and response by Karen Dybis - sounds elitist to me. And to top it off, the statement "he admits he got over his head" isn't even correct English - "he admits he got IN over his head" sounds better unless it is of course a typo....?

    I thought this blog and the Times presence there was suppose to be a boost for the city - it will take a lot of work but I believe the right people will come in and rebuild it - it will require taking risks and it won't be overnight.

    I am a 65 y.o. woman - white - who moved to L.A. to get into the entertainment industry and now it is in Detroit - Bravo. I also waited on tables when I first got out of Southeastern High School in '62 and it was one of the best companies I've ever worked for and I've worked for many many big companies since - and so I say to the Times, keep the negative journalists out of Detroit!

  • 7

    I had dinner at Shiraz Tuesday night. The service was as wonderful as the food was awful. The place is clearly going downhill fast.

    I would be surprised if they continue in business for another six months. You simply cannot serve food that is made from over the hill ingredients and badly cooked on top of it and expect your loyal customers to return - loyalty program or not.

    • 7.1

      I agree, I have eaten at most of his restaurants and either the food or the service was just bad. There is one thing about the service industry in Detroit, and that is there is never consistency.

      Here is a good story for you. I went to the Coach, I was going to val lay my car but was informed that the driver did not know how to drive a manual transmission car?! Yes I know that it is not the responsibility of the restaurant, but that is part of the experience of going there. Service issue number 1.

      Go up to the restaurant, get seated at a dirty table, Issue number 2. Order drinks after waiting too long, waiter spills my drink on the table bringing it to me, Issue number 3. Now the table has to be cleaned and we were not even asked to move to another table they just wrapped it all up and disappeared.

      We order food, food comes, My food was prepared wrong, as in I asked for a medium done fillet and I got a rare fillet, Issue number 4. To sum that all up equals a bad night. Would I go back ever? NO! never, for the money I spent I should not have to expect service that is poorer then a road side diner. Who's to blame for that service? MANAGEMENT!

      There is a lack of true service industries in the city that is for sure, There are a few and that is great but few does not make for a great experience. Just a few bad ones is all it takes to make people not want to go downtown. If you have to seek out a good time in a downtown area then it is not a lot of fun at all.

      I sure do hope that the party that bought all of these venues will be able to bring back "service" to the service industry.

      I do agree that it is good that someone bought the businesses, but money can buy anything these days, it is passion that keeps them alive, I hope there is some passion to make it happen.

  • 8

    Why did this comment quoted below come through in my email but not on this blog? Can the TIME journalists send out personalized comments without posting them publicly? Or was it taken off by an editor?

    "Karen Dybis said on Saving Hundreds of Metro Detroit Jobs
    November 25, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    This sort of comment is so mean spirited that I find it hard to believe you thought it was appropriate. It does not encourage conversation; it deters it."

    • 8.1

      I´ll risk stepping in with an univited, though constructively intended, observation:
      Rather than focusing on your three procedural questions, GrewUpInDetroit, perhaps it´s worth reflecting at least briefly on the two sentences Karen emailed.
      We´re participating in a public discussion here -- an electronic town square, in effect -- so a heads-up about respectful behavior from a blogger and at least a couple of fellow posters in the past may be something to consider.
      Cool to disagree, of course . . . with a tone that encourages conversation.

  • 9

    I am reminded of a recent "conversation" on this blog where commenters called each other "a--holes" that appeared to be acceptable. This really set the tone, but at least those weren't comments from a paid performer.

    When this blog began I was very excited that there were 3 journalists assigned, presumably full-time, to observe and analyze Detroit. I read online discussions, and find a lot of them very intelligent and thought-provoking. But this blog is so disappointing.

    There is one "journalist", Karen Dybis, who recently identified herself as a "stay-at-home Mom" with interesting work. How can you be a serious journalist and a "stay-at-home Mom"? There is another, "Darrell", who has insulted all Republicans, early on, dismissing any contribution they could make, or have made to Detroit, Michigan,or the US.

    This is NOT serious journalism, and I find it insulting that we, in the Detroit area, were thought of so poorly that this is all we got. I would have expected a higher quality, more serious level of writing and analysis than is on this blog. They either just copy and paste other articles, or make wild and discriminatory comments about groups of people. This just encourages many, not all, of the commenters to be as superficial and base as they are.

    I thought Ms. Dybis was particularly out-of-line here to be so judgmental as to these restaurant jobs to not be worthy enough jobs. They were some who agreed and said things such as she is being elitist.

    I think that TIME should be very embarrassed to have this blog be the best it could produce for Detroit. TIME was supposed to be, at one point, a serious, investigative publication. There are some articles in other sections of the online edition that are serious and thoughtful by very good journalists, such as Karen Tumulty. Her blogs and articles get 100s of comments. These blogs don't, and I think the reason is the poor quality of the bloggers.

    TIME is failing in what they are producing here. They do not have a clear mission statement, so I was erroneously assuming that there would be a more serious, intellectual and in depth look at Detroit and the surrounding area. Instead, I find day-after-day, there are reprinted articles and references from other publications, with either superficial or prejudiced comments from TIME bloggers.

    It's really a shame, and is frustrating, as it only seems to get worse. It can sometimes be interesting fluff, but we as Detroiters and former Detroiters, deserve better. As often happens, we get the dreck. I guess this shows what a major publication thinks the level of thought or education is in Detroit. Maybe this IS as good as it gets for Detroit, but I actually think they could do much better with the choice of journalists and "blogs."

    With all of the other problems in this area, at least send us some serious journalists for a year.

  • 10

    Bloggers like "grewupindetroit" are a joke they demand superior efforts from others but not of themselves..

    If I was karen I would dismiss bloggers like him in a suburban drive by second..

    • 10.1

      Hey G..

      Your comment is not just silly and vaccuous - but really frightening as well...inferences about shooting somene is not just fearful, but really well... spooky also...!

    • 10.2

      Thanks for proving my point about the low qualtiy of this blog. Threatening someone with a drive-by shooting is what I would hope TIME is not looking for, and demonstrates the low-life that they can attract with the tone of some of their blogs. You have held yourself up as a fine example of the Aftrican-American community, and if all you can do is recommend to a TIME employee (or subcontractor) that they commit a crime of a drive-by shooting, then I think TIME does need to regroup. You are an example of the what has been wrong with Detroit for many years: too many blacks thinking violently and then acting upon these urges. Not all blacks, but the worst elements, such as you, who would recommend a drive-by shooting to a journalist. The worst of Detroit, right here, and the main reason why whites fled decades ago. You are an exact example of what is wrong with Detroit. I know, I have lived there and see the decadence and violence you and your type have perpetuated to ruin this city. And it won't get any bettter until you stop thinking of murder as your way to deal with something like a commenter on a blog. Shame on you and those like you.

  • 11

    Popular definitions of "drive-by" from

    1. Gangland massacre whereby the assailant(s) will open fire from the window(s) of a slow moving vehicle and speed off once their clips are spent.
    There was a drive-by in my hood yesterday
    2. drive-by
    A cum-n-run, shoot-n-run, or f__k-n-run.
    He wanted a drive-by Friday night but I told him I don't do drive-bys.
    whiplash quickie bl
    3. drive-by
    What happens when rival negro gangs meet in the ghettos of the inner city. Usually, the gang commiting the drive by willw wield weapons such as glocks and 9s which are aimed(I use the term loosely as "gangstas" hold these weapons sideways which undermines the weapon's accuracy) out of inexpensive 1980s cars with flashy, chrome rims
    tupac gangsta player pimp 22s
    4. drive-by
    Popular way of killing people among rappers.
    A car passes another car, the killer opens fire through the window (preferably with a submachine gun), eliminates the target and makes off at high speed.
    Also known as: A Tupac.
    Dude 1: Hey man, there was a drive-by in my hood today.
    Dude 2: Wtf, how's the victim?
    Dude 1: He's dead, of course. He really got Tupacked.

  • 12

    I do not use a urban dictionary live in the suburbs..

    This is exactly why bloggers and content on the internet is often worthless and stupid..Notice how the white bloggers seek to interpet my verbaige in a negative fashion instead of words of art and expression in the manner in which I used them

    A "driveby" apparently to these shallow white posters mean something violent of course drive by in my context meant exactly the way I inserted it a manner in which suburbanites pay little attention to anything and quite often just drive by homes, people and places in a non caring fashion..

    It is sad to witness such intellectual dishonesty and ignorance from the chatter class..I is sad to observe such desperation by some folks who cannot measure up so they engaged in creating false drama and victimhood and demonization of those of us who matter..

    How sad..

  • 13

    The quality of the blog FAR outperforms the quality of the comments.

    It's important to stay focused on what this really means... 500 jobs saved. That's a great thing. Whether it was PR based or not.

    • 13.1

      Well-said, Matt.
      I thought of this thread and a couple of others when reading the Assignment Detroit bureau chief's interview in Hour Detroit.
      Writer Dave Manney asks "how are you handling the local critics," Steven Gray says: "You have to know when to listen to the market, listen to your audience. But you also have to know when to shut it out and simply do your job, and let people know that you need to do your job.
      Sensible focus.
      . . . . . . . . . . . . .
      Full interview:

  • 14

    i had a really long comment. Then an ad popped up and completely erased it. Someone at time should fix that. I wont be re-writing.

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