Detroit Regional Chamber > Racial Justice & Economic Equity > 4 Black-Owned Culinary Pop-Ups Gear up for NFL Draft in a Former Food Hall Space

4 Black-Owned Culinary Pop-Ups Gear up for NFL Draft in a Former Food Hall Space

April 25, 2024

Detroit Free Press
Susan Selasky

April 23, 2024

A new food hall concept touting a huge bar and daytime and evening entertainment is scheduled to open in time for the NFL draft in a space that once housed the same concept.

Called Recess Detroit, the food hall will open on Wednesday showcasing four, Black-owned culinary concepts from local owners.

A thrust of the project is “championing culture, cuisine, and community engagement,” according to a news release.

The visionaries behind Recess Detroit are Kai Bowman and Roddy Allen. Bowman serves as chief operating officer of the Metro Black Business Alliance (MBBA). Recess Detroit is Bowman’s first foray into the hospitality business.

“Recess will be a destination that is inclusive and welcoming of all who know, love, and consume the City of Detroit,” said Bowman and Allen in a news release.

The idea behind Recess, Bowman said, is to bring “four restaurants to the downtown area and create a space where folks can feel the vibe of good music and good food.”

Its name, “Recess,” has a double meaning, Bowman said: “Recess, the whole idea is, as a child you come out and play but also recess because we are across the street from the court (US Federal Courthouse.)”

Allen, whose background is in real estate, is president and CEO of Hot Rod’s Wing Ding’s Inc., one of the concepts. In 2022, Allen opened the Wing Dings joint on Seven Mile in Detroit.

“The vibrancy will be the difference between our food hall and the food hall here before which I don’t remember it having music,” Allen said. “The fun, the vibe, the effect of it when you get off work or on your lunch break or just the weekends, it’s recess.”

At Recess Detroit, Hot Rod’s menu includes wing dings, boneless wings, and a vegetarian offering of deep-fried cauliflower. All are offered with a sauce or with a dry rub. There’s mac and cheese bites and fries.

Allen also added that having four businesses doesn’t mean it’s a “competition thing.”

“It’s a together thing. You’re not coming to this place and only getting one thing to eat. You have several options,” he said.

Another concept is Pequeño Cantina from Frank Blackman. The Mexican eatery, with a location in Detroit’s historic Avenue of Fashion, will feature a variety of street tacos to quesadillas, nachos, chips salsa and street corn options. Jerk @ Nite is a fusion of Mexican, Jamaican, and American soul food also joining. The concept started in 2012 on the Howard University campus in Washington, D.C. Local restaurant owners Ron Bartell Jr. and Frank Blackman are the Jerk @ Nite franchisees. Jerk @ Nite, according to its website, touts its menu offerings as affordable, healthy, and preservative-free. Its menu at Recess Detroit includes jerk chicken, tacos featuring chicken or oxtail, and nachos.

Savannah’s Smokehouse from chefs Davante Burnley and Dominic “Dom” McCord is also popping up for the NFL draft at Detroit Recess. The concept will feature Southern-style smoked meats, such as beef brisket, salmon, and wings. Chef Burnley most recently competed on and won an episode of “Chopped,” which aired on the Food Network in January.