Friday Night in Detroit:

Coneys, Concerts, and Cones!!

Pictures by Danielle Kaltz
Words by Nick Sousanis





A late summer night's Friday in Detroit.

This evening began with a quick visit to the ground level of the Compuware building, where painter Donald Anderson's vision of Detroit is presented across the makeshift gallery in vivid color. Often painted on location, en plein air, his urban landscapes reflect the atmosphere of the gallery both warm and inviting.

From there we make our way to the American Coney Island (not far from which Anderson and friends are painting a mural). The restaurant maintains it is "one of the oldest, if not the oldest, businesses in the downtown area (and perhaps in the entire city of Detroit) that is family-owned and operated." Founded in 1917 by Greek immigrant Constantine "Gust" Keros, the business has thrived by having a menu that can not only fit on a three by five card but is in fact printed on one. To serve the needs of ex-Detroiters missing their Coney "fix", the 24 hour establishment has recently begun to offer its eats in a mailable kit. Our dinners arrive much quicker and fresher than the vacuum sealed kits. It's Coney fare, which means your vegetarian, rice pudding seeking arts editor had to be content with the look of satisfaction on his Coney craving companion's face after the meal.

From there it's back to Campus Martius, in time for a stroll through the park, before taking in a spirited free concert by Detroit's own Audra Kubat, back in town after a stint in New York City. The park is filled with people enjoying the evening, walking about or sitting in the new folding chairs set up throughout the park both for concert-watching and just for folks to relax. (Longtime contributor Francis Grunow recently wrote of the importance of these chairs for Model D magazine.) It turns out that in addition to the concerts held on the lawn (which at this moment it seems hard to believe that it spends half the year as an ice arena) there are daily activities in the park from Yoga classes to Bocci Ball (one would hope, not held simultaneously!) I'd share some specifics here, but the Campus Martius website is sorely lacking information, so head down there and check it out in person, which you should do anyway.

The liveliness downtown spread far beyond the park's borders, as straight down Woodward at Hart Plaza, folks gathered for the annual Caribbean Festival. On the waterfront, the Detroit Princess stayed moored, waiting to show off the city's skyline from the river.

Our stroll took us briefly into the Hard Rock Café and then over to the new Ben and Jerry's in Compuware's lower level. Ice Cream in Detroit! Ice Cream in Detroit!! Perhaps in any other city this would demand less exclamation points, but here an establishment dedicated to Ice Cream (that's not on wheels) is a fabulous and much needed development. The fact that this particular establishment is devoted to helping Detroit youth and young adults who "face barriers to employment" makes the whole occasion that much sweeter.

The stroll continues down Library Street, looking through the window of the newly opened Vicente's Cuban restaurant. This hot eatery where people come to dance, and see and be seen, would have to remain a story for another night, as our evening had come to a happy conclusion.

All in all this night in Detroit has a bit of a dream-like quality or perhaps more so the impressionistic feeling of one of Donald Anderson's paintings - a collection of images of warmth, of color, brought to life in a brilliant palette.



 © 2002