America, we have a problem.
As the Detroit Lions’ path to Super Bowl LVIII continues, the place dubbed the “Motor City” has seen an influx of fans trekking to the downtown area, patronizing local restaurants to cheer on their NFL team.
Per a report from Detroit journalist Phil Lewis, the New York Times recently released a story exploring the local economic boost that has resulted from the Lions’ winning streak, yet not a single Black-owned business is mentioned.
What’s more, the omission of Black-owned businesses isn’t because the city doesn’t have any, according to Lewis’ blog, What I’m Reading. In fact, one business was reportedly interviewed for the NYT piece, Cutter’s Bar & Grill. Located in the Eastern Market neighborhood, the pub was opened in 2004 and has been home to Detroit fans ever since.
When Detroit historian and news reporter Ken Coleman brought attention to the omission of the city’s Black businesses in a Facebook post, a manager at the pub commented that she had actually interviewed with the NYT.
“I’m very disappointed to hear this,” Chimika Harris said in her comment. “The NYTimes did an interview with me for this on Friday.”
For the past 20 years, Charles Nolen, the owner of Cutter’s, recalls being a big motivator in getting team supporters, especially the younger generation, to the downtown area, alongside other Black-owned businesses such as Bert’s Marketplace.
As a result of the Lions’ successful 2023-24 season, Nolen said business is booming!
“Our numbers are definitely up,” he shared with What I’m Reading. “The numbers have probably doubled during the playoffs.”
While the winter season is usually slow for restaurants in the area due to cold weather and the aftermath of holiday spending, according to some Black business owners, they add that the Lions’ current winning streak has been a blessing to their establishments.
Central Kitchen + Bar owner Dennis Archer Jr. revealed that his restaurant had to extend its hours on Sunday (Jan. 21) to support people wanting to come in for a bite to eat before heading to the game as well as those who wanted to watch at the restaurant.
“All of this has led to an increase in revenue during the slowest time of the year for us,” Archer said.
Although the Lions have been having quite the season, the aforementioned entrepreneurs expressed their frustration in continuously being left out of conversations around the recent revitalization of the Midwest city.
“Because the city is majority African-American, because of the history of how the city became that way, and because of the number of strong purveyors here, it’s unfortunate when we are not equally represented in the narrative because we are such a strong part of the foundation, the backbone, and story here,” Archer shared.
Kenny Valentino, owner of District Seventy8, which opened in February 2023, also chimed in on continuously being excluded.
“With all the revitalization in Detroit, the small, minority, Black-owned businesses are always left out,” he said. “It does not surprise me.”
The Detroit Free Press reported that there would be an estimated $20 million economic impact to the city from the playoff matchup between the Lions and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, based on stats provided by Visit Detroit.
Now that the team has advanced, they will play in an away game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday (Jan. 28), yet business will continue to boom for diehard Lions fans preparing to support their team locally.