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Springwells Village
Detroit, MI 48209

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Danto Furniture: One Business, Four Generations, Dedicated to Southwest Detroit

Tiffany Tononi

Originally from a small Polish-border town in Lithuania, the Danto family immigrated to the United States in the 1920s and settled in Detroit. Later, in the early 1940s, Julius Danto broke away from a family business on Detroit’s eastside to open Danto Furniture on West Vernor Highway. This began what has become a deep connection between the Danto family and Southwest Detroit. Today, Julius’s son Charles, Charles’s son Irwin, and Irwin’s daughter Ashley proudly serve thousands of customers at their current location on 7701 West Vernor Highway. (Fun fact: They also have a pop-up kiosk at Laurel Park Mall managed by Debra Rinna. They will be opening a Midtown location in Spring 2016. 

Before moving to their present-day location, Danto Furniture was located further west on West Vernor Highway. Then, approximately 20 years ago, their business had a devastating setback when the steam heat system caused terrible building fire. In a recent interview with Charles Danto, he told us, “This was the busiest day of the year… we had to get everyone out of the store.” The community was also impacted by this fire. “Everyone was sad when we had the fire. They thought we would have to go out of business and they didn’t want us to leave.”

The fire was a big loss for the Danto family, but despite the odds they continued to move forward with the next generation of their business. They bought 7701 West Vernor from the Raimi family, the same family of well-known Spiderman Trilogy Director, Sam Raimi. Today Danto Furniture continues to serve the community through their retail business and as a major employer in Southwest Detroit. Currently, they have about 18 employees, many of whom are from the local community, and over the years they have served the many waves of immigrants who have called Southwest Detroit home over the years, including those from Hungary, Lithuania, Italy, Lebanon, Albania, Iraq, Mexico, and Yemen. 

It is clear that those at Danto Furniture stay in touch with the personal lives of their clients as well. Charles mentions clients whose children became doctors, executives at GM, and even a part of President Obama’s security team. Many of these long-time customers keep coming back generations after generation to do business with Danto Furniture. “Young guys would come to Detroit and we would give them a bed on credit because their factory job didn’t pay enough to purchase outright. Later those same guys would bring their brothers and eventually families,” says Charles. “Now we have the grandchildren of former clients still buying furniture from us.” 

Charles has seen a lot of changes in the area over the years. Despite challenges facing the community, he says that his family wants to “stay here and keep contributing” through their business. “We are still here. We are the survivors of Detroit.” Charles really credits ongoing immigration, vibrant cultural roots, and deep community relationships for the neighborhood stability experienced here. “As business owners, our family could have pulled out 30 years ago, but that’s Southwest Detroit for you. It is a very tight-knit community and that’s why we are here.”

Danto Furniture continues to give back to the community every year by supporting the Cinco de Mayo parade, contributing to community safety by securing vacant homes, and throwing one of the community’s most anticipated Christmas celebrations. Danto Furniture Company is again hosting their "Annual Merry Christmas with Santa" event throughout December and all are welcome.  “We enjoy helping formalize these special families moments with Santa. Mr. and Mrs. Claus are well known visitors from the North Pole to our community in Southwest Detroit,” says Irwin Danto, 3rd Generation Owner and Manager of Danto Furniture.

The entire store is decorated for the "Annual Merry Christmas with Santa" event which is a partnership with Southwest Detroit Improvement Association this year. Visitors enjoy popcorn, lemonade, cookies, candy, and chips. Salsa and chips are provided by E&L Supermercado. Last year’s event served over 400 families because of this high demand and this year, over 300 families have already participated! New this year is  'social media sharing’, customers will get a text with their photos and can share it right to facebook, twitter, and instagram.

The "Annual Merry Christmas with Santa" event is a free event that includes a conversation with Santa and a free 4x6” print photos. Additional prints in larger sizes available for $1, $2, or $3. Visitors select photos to be printed. Meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus, free refreshments, free print photos on site with large prints available, immediate photo sharing on social media, all taking place at Danto Furniture, 7701 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit, MI, 48209 12:00 pm-5:00 pm, December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20. Bring the whole family!

Contributed by Lucina Navarro, UM-MUP and former UNI Placemaking Intern, Tiffany Tononi, UNI. Special thanks to Charles, Irwin, and Ashley Danto! For more about businesses in Southwest Detroit, visit the Southwest Detroit Business Association here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tiffany Tononi

REVOLUTION LOUNGE INVITES YOU TO “SPRING INTO SPRINGWELLS”
WITH THEIR FIRST EVER POP-UP EVENT SERIES 

Beginning May 3 and for a Limited Time Esto's Garage, Full Sun Foods, 
and Chef Garza of El Asador at Revolution Lounge

 “Spring into Springwells” for the first ever pop-up food series to hit Revolution Lounge. Revolution Lounge is partnering with Urban Neighborhood Initiatives and three entrepreneur chefs to launch this temporary series beginning May 3 at 5:00pm and continuing every Sunday in May and June. 

The first chef to join the ranks was Esteban Castro of Esto's Garage. In true Southwest Detroit form, Castro will kick off the first event on May 3, hoping to catch some of the crowd from the Cinco de Mayo Parade. Castro also hopes to see some friendly faces from his weekly Friday and Saturday pop-up at Café D’Mongo’s Speakeasy. 

Born and raised on the Eastside of Detroit, DeJuane Johnson of Full Sun Foods specializes in pop-up and catering events that highlight seasonal foods. Johnson honed his skills at a variety of destination establishments including The Fly Trap, Social Kitchen & Bar, and Café ML in Bloomfield Township.

Last but not least, Luis Garza mastered the art of fine dining as a head chef with Andiamo for over two decades. A proud Southwest Detroiter since arriving in 1985 from Mexico, Garza took the plunge in 2013 and opened the much acclaimed El Asador Steakhouse, also located on Springwells Street. Garza will be adapting some of his favorite dishes to the bar scene; diners can be certain he won’t disappoint! 

Revolution Lounge owner Joe Bartolo wants to see this lineup bring some much needed attention to Springwells Street, always the bridesmaid and never the bride thanks to nearby Vernor Highway. Bartolo hopes that this type of creative economic activity will attract a wide cross-section of the local and greater Detroit community.

Located at 1601 Springwells, Revolution Lounge is hosting guest chefs every Sunday night starting May 3 and on through June. The pop-up series is family-friendly. Diners can enjoy the pop-up creations as early as 5:00pm along with all that Revolution Lounge has to offer, including the outdoor patio that opened earlier this month!

More information on the Springwells area of Southwest Detroit found at www.springwellsvillage.com.

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Revolution Lounge is located at 1601 Springwells, Detroit, MI, 48209. To contact Revolution Lounge call: (313) 757-7755.

Urban Neighborhood Initiatives is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation that works with communities in urban neighborhoods to build safe and thriving environments where people  want to live, work, and play. To learn more visit www.unidetroit.org. 
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Contact: Tiffany Tononi                                        
Tel. 313.451.8380
Email: ttononi@unidetroit.org
Date: 04/23/2015

 

Take some time off at a TimeBank!

Tiffany Tononi

Contributed by Tangela Woodley, former Semester in Detroit Intern, UNI

Unity in Our Community TimeBank

So your faucet has been leaking for the longest and you've tried everything from that “magical plumber glue” at CVS to taping the pipes with duct tape. Unfortunately, your painting skills have not been of amazing use for this situation. Did you know you could easily get someone to come fix your plumbing problem? Did I mention that there is no money involved? This magical world is called a Time Bank! Time Banks allow people with unique (and maybe not so unique) skills to trade “time.” It's a lot simpler than it sounds. Say you’re a painter, and you need a plumber. You could trade an hour of painting, for an hour of plumbing! Dollars aren’t the money here, instead, it is time.

When you spend an hour doing something for an individual or group, with TimeBanking, you earn one TimeBank hour. Then, you get to use that TimeBank hour to receive an hour of a neighbor’s time, or to engage in a group activity offered by a neighbor. With TimeBanking, you work with a group of individuals who are joined together for the common good. TimeBanking brings out the best in people because, as a system, it connects needs with resources and skills!

I got to meet with the amazing Jennie Weakley who is the Intergenerational Program Coordinator at Bridging Communities across from Dingeman Park. She is in charge of youth employment but knows just about everything about TimeBanks. 

The Unity in Our Community (UOC) TimeBank is unique from other TimeBanks in a lot of cool ways. Jennie says the UOC TimeBank has a very diverse group of participants in terms of age, economic background, and ethnicity. This allows the TimeBank to bring together a wide range of skills and talents. 

Are you interested in signing up to be apart of the UOC TimeBank? Signing up is super easy. Just check out the website, sign up, create a “facebook-esque” profile, and monitor exchanges. You never know what you might come across! After a few months of thinking she didn’t have any cool enough skills, Jennie’s first TimeBank exchange was picking up a neighbor from the airport! Jennie says one of the biggest challenges at the TimeBank is that once people become friends, they don’t log their exchanges anymore! TimeBanks help create long lasting relationships. What once was a TimeBank Hour, becomes a friendly favor.

For more information: visit http://www.southwestdetroittimebank.org

Savor Spotlight: Unique Lunch Counter Cuisine

Tiffany Tononi

Contributed by Sarah Carlson, Savor Southwest

La Posada

Southwest Detroit is full of surprises, and La Posada is no exception.  The market on Springwells and Navy looks like an ordinary storefront from the outside, but offers excellent food on the inside.  It has a selection of groceries, including a large deli and meat counter, but La Posada’s main attraction is definitely in the back of the market. There, a cook works over a small grill to serve up tacos, tortas and quesadillas to hungry customers.  The menu, written on a piece of poster board taped to the wall, includes chicken, chorizo, steak, barbacoa, el pastor, and lengua.  The offerings are simple and the ingredients are basic, but at La Posada, they turn them into delicious dishes.  The meat is seasoned and tender, served on corn tortillas for tacos and flour for quesadillas, both topped with fresh cilantro and onions.  La Posada also offers a medium tomato salsa and spicy salsa verde to add an extra kick to the dish.  As a special treat, all of the dishes come with sweet grilled onions and jalapeños on the side.

I stepped up to the counter recently and a friendly waitress quickly took my order.  I watched the steak sizzling on the grill (Nothing precooked here, everything is made to order!) and the cheese bubbling and couldn’t wait to try my food.  The chef garnished my plate with lime and made sure I had all of the salsas I needed to fully enjoy my meal.  I had a chorizo taco, a chicken taco and a steak quesadilla, all of which were delicious.  The chorizo was flavorful but not too salty, and the chicken and steak were both extremely tender.  I could tell that all of the ingredients were very fresh, and everything was prepared promptly.  For $5.00, I left La Posada full and extremely satisfied. 

Inside La Posada, there are ten tables and a counter available for dining in, and they also offer carry out service.  They have a large selection of juices and sodas to accompany your meal, and you can save a trip to the store by picking up groceries there as well.   La Posada is a hidden gem and a great place to go for delicious food, affordable prices and friendly service. 

Open Monday – Friday 8:30AM – 9:30PM, Saturday and Sunday 8AM – 9:30PM | 313-841-1690 | 1930 Springwells | Cash, Credit ($10 minimum)


La Mexicana

From the outside, La Mexicana looks like an ordinary supermercado.  But take a step inside and you’ll see that it’s much more.  One side of the store has shelves and coolers dedicated to normal grocery items, but the other half is what makes La Mexicana unique. Behind a large counter, there’s a grill where you can get tacos, quesadillas, tortas and burritos made fresh for you.  While the closest thing they have to a menu is a piece of paper taped to the wall, ask the cook and he’ll tell you what they have to offer.  The meat selection includes steak, chorizo, chicken, cabeza and lengua and they offer both flour and corn tortillas.  The food is available to go, or grab a drink from the cooler and take a seat at the counter to eat in and enjoy the ambiance of this bustling market.  

I ordered tacos—one chorizo and one cabeza.  The chorizo taco was flavorful and had the perfect amount of seasoning.  I was a bit apprehensive about trying the cabeza (beef head) but it was extremely tender and turned out to be a great choice.  Both tacos were served on flavorful corn tortillas, topped with cilantro and onions and came with a side of fresh salsa verde.  I also ordered a cheese quesadilla, which I wasn’t expecting to be anything out of the ordinary, but the cook was able to turn two basic ingredients into something extremely delicious.  He cooked the cheese directly on the grill, then stuffed it inside the tortilla and gave it a final sear for the perfect combination of crunchy and cheesy.  My meal left me extremely satisfied, and for a total price of $4.50, it was definitely a steal.  

La Mexicana is a great place to stop in for a quick and affordable lunch or dinner.  The counter and seating inside the market can easily accommodate groups of up to 6 people, and if you’re by yourself, watching the cook whip up the delicious food is great entertainment.  As an added bonus, you can pick up groceries while you’re there as well. Stop into La Mexicana for a one-stop shop with a wide selection of groceries and fantastic authentic Mexican food.  

Open Daily 9AM – 9PM | 313-841-3024 | 7934 W Vernor Hwy | Cash Only

 

Savor Spotlight: Sweet Treats in Springwells

Tiffany Tononi

Contributed by Meredith Bury, Savor Southwest

Family Treat

Looking to cool down this summer? Springwells Family Treat is the perfect way to beat the heat and satisfy any sweet tooth. The stand at Springwells and Navy Street has been a fixture in the Southwest community for over 50 years, and my trip there made it very easy to see why it’s so popular. Family Treat’s ice cream menu includes soft serve and hand packed ice cream, as well as 13 flavors of shakes and malts, sundaes, parfaits and other classic treats. Cone prices start at $0.85 for a baby cone, which is perfect for a quick sweet treat, to $2.15 for a large cone that’s sure to conquer even the biggest ice cream cravings. Family Treat also has an extensive food menu that includes burgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, and tacos. Every Tuesday, $2.25 buys 3 tacos, and on Thursdays, footlong coney dogs are $1.85. 

I had a hot fudge cream puff, which was excellent, and so was the service. I was greeted with a smile the moment I walked in and received my food quickly, even though they were very busy. Family Treat has plenty of parking, and a counter that overlooks Springwells if you prefer to eat in. This summer, look no further than Springwells Family Treat to cool off and enjoy an ice cream treat!

Open Monday – Saturday 10:30AM – 9PM; Sunday 12 – 9PM | 313-841-3522 | 2010 Springwells | Cash Only


Mangonadas Del Barrio

As the weather warms up, Mangonadas Del Barrio is a great place to go for a sweet summer treat. Their menu features a variety of frozen desserts, many of which use fresh fruit for extra refreshing flavor. They also offer a wide assortment of hand scooped ice cream flavors. I tried a Mangonada, the dessert the business is named after. It is a frozen dessert with chunks of fresh fruit and garnished with chili powder. I tried mango, but they are also available in flavors such as strawberry and cucumber. It was definitely a refreshing explosion of flavor as I took my first bite, and at $1.50, it’s a great and affordable way to cool down in the summer heat.

Inside, Mangonadas del Barrio has arcade games and ample seating to keep you entertained as you enjoy your dessert. There are also outdoor tables, where you can bask in the summer sun with your treat. Dessert from Mangonadas Del Barrio is a perfect accompaniment for a hot summer day, I can’t wait to go back for another refreshing treat.

Open everyday 10AM – 9PM | 313-551-2360 | 1210 Lawndale | Cash, Credit ($10 minimum)

Savor Spotlight: Outdoor Dining Gems

Tiffany Tononi

Contributed by Sarah Carlson, Savor Southwest

Taqueria Camino Real

Taqueria Camino Real has been operating in the community for over five years. On the corner of Central and Lafayette Streets, the outdoor patio provides ample room to enjoy a meal outside. Inside, the restaurant’s brightly colored décor and plants provide for an enjoyable dining experience. For large events, they offer a private seating area which is available for reservation and seats up to 80 guests.

The extensive menu offers selections for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Served until 2 pm, the breakfast menu offers popular egg dishes including huevos rancheros and chilaquiles. Other menu specialties include Carne a la Parilla, which is a sampler plate that includes steak or chicken, Mexican sausage, cactus, salad, peppers, rice, beans, and a quesadilla and comes in three sizes to satisfy even the largest of appetites. Taqueria Camino Real also offers more traditional favorites as well as freshly squeezed carrot and orange juice to accompany your meal. For dessert, try a postre del dia, made fresh daily.

During our meal, the delicious food was accompanied by excellent service. We were greeted with a smile and fresh chips and salsa to snack on while we looked over the menu. I tried the chicken, chorizo and grilled steak “a la plancha” tacos. They were seasoned and cooked to perfection, each with its own distinctive and delicious flavor. The enchiladas lunch included two enchiladas (your choice of chicken or cheese), served with rice and beans. For just $4.99, it made for a tasty and filling lunch.

As the weather warms up, Taqueria Camino Real is a great place to sit outside and enjoy a pleasant atmosphere, great service, and delicious food.

Open Monday – Thursday 9AM – 10PM; Friday – Sunday 9AM – 11PM | 313-297-8804 | 1100 Central Ave | Cash, Debit, Credit


Nuestra Familia

Located on Vernor between Central and Honorah Streets, Taqueria Nuestra Familia offers an extensive menu, friendly service, and ample indoor and outdoor seating. Inside, the restaurant’s décor features brightly colored carved chairs with cheery and festive designs. The restaurant’s three large rooms ensure that the welcoming staff can accommodate any size party. For an outdoor dining experience, Nuestra Familia now offers a seating area with large tables, as well as two-person high top tables. Still under development, the vibrant paintings and hanging floral baskets along with upbeat music already make this spacean excellent summer destination. As an added bonus, the outdoor area is covered, so there’s no need to worry about rain disturbing your dining experience. 

Nuestra Familia’s menu offers a wide variety of delicious options. There are breakfast, lunch, and dinner specials, as well as favorites like tacos, gorditas, and tortas available ala carte. They also feature an extensive selection of seafood as well as caldos—large bowls of soup with seafood or meat. Upon being seated, I was served fresh tortilla chips and three salsas— mild, medium, and a refreshing avocado dip. In addition to the salsas, I started my meal with an order of guacamole, which was extremely fresh and delicious. Nuestra Familia offers an extensive selection of tacos including chicken, steak, carnitas (fried pork), chorizo, lengua (beef tongue) and cabeza (beef head) to name a few. I tried the chorizo and the carnitas, both of which were served on homemade corn tortillas with onions and cilantro. 

Nuestra Familia also has some great vegetarian options! I had a gordita de rellenos, which is a fried corn pocket that’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, stuffed with cheese, poblano peppers, and spices. It was a unique and delicious departure from a traditional taco. Another meatless option at Nuestra Familia is the tostada de frijoles, which is a flat, fried tortilla topped with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, and fresh avocado. For those craving seafood, I recommend the coctel de camaron. It’s a delicious variation on the traditional shrimp cocktail that includes tomatoes, onions, shrimp, avocado, and cilantro in a cold broth. When I ordered it, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised with its delicious explosion of flavors.

Throughout the meal, the wait staff was prompt, friendly, and attentive. The food was delicious, and the prices were perfect for a quick and affordable lunch. Between the friendly atmosphere, welcoming indoor and outdoor seating areas and wide menu selection, Taqueria Nuestra Familia is a perfect place to enjoy great food and great weather this summer.

Open Monday Thursday 8AM – 11PM; Friday – Sunday 8am – 12am | 313-842-5668 | 7620 W. Vernor Hwy. | Cash, Debit, Credit 


Honorable Mention

Honorable mention to J & J Coney Island, a local favorite since 1983. J & J's small but mighty outdoor seating section was recently featured in the Savor Spotlight on breakfast, found here.

Open Monday – Friday 7AM – 7PM, Saturday 7AM – 5:30PM, Sunday Closed | 313-841-5250 | 7220 W. Vernor Hwy. | CASH ONLY 

Savor Spotlight: Looking for Breakfast in Southwest?

Mallika Roy

Contributed by Sarah Carlson, Savor Southwest

J & J Coney Island

J & J Coney Island has been a fixture of the Springwells Village community since 1983, and it’s easy to see why they’ve been around for so long. J & J pays attention to the little things. Their building, both inside and out, is spotless and inviting, welcoming you to take a seat at their counter, in a booth, or at one of their outdoor tables.

You can get breakfast any time of day, as long as they’re open, which is why I decided to have breakfast for dinner. My order – light and fluffy cake-like pancakes, tasty sausage with a crispy skin, and a perfectly cooked over-medium egg – came lickety-split! My server continued to be attentive even after my meal arrived, making sure my drink never emptied.

During my meal, it became clear that everyone in the restaurant knew the staff. They talked as if they were old friends, knew customers’ usual orders, and even had Easter candy for a youngster at the counter. Stop by between 7 and 11AM for their breakfast specials – two eggs any style with hash browns, toast and jelly for $2.79 or two eggs any style with choice of ham, bacon, or sausage, plus hash browns, toast, and jelly for just $3.69!

Open Monday – Friday 7AM – 7PM, Saturday 7AM – 5:30PM, Sunday Closed | 313-841-5250 | 7220 W. Vernor Hwy. | CASH ONLY


La Dozena

La Dozena (the dozen, in Spanish), has been serving up freshly made doughnuts, croissants, coffee, and other breakfast treats in Springwells Village for almost a year. Like many other Springwells businesses, this one’s a family affair. Having a successful insurance business on the same block, they decided to make a foray into the food business, and boy are we glad they did!

Their doughnut varieties vary day to day, and the bakers are always coming up with new combinations. My favorite is the plain cake doughnuts, perfect for dipping in my coffee. If you’re picking up for a large group, call ahead to place the order. This way you get exactly what you want, fresh from the kitchen. La Dozena also sells to local restaurant Motz, so if you want to get crazy, you can have a doughnut AND a burger.

Need a place to have a morning meeting? La Dozena has plenty of seating in their well-lit, comfortable environment. They also have free Wi-Fi for connecting to the internet and a television playing the morning’s latest news. Stop in soon to see why they’re one of the tastiest new additions to Springwells Village.

Open Monday – Saturday 6AM – 4:30PM, Sunday 6AM – 1PM | 313-451-8147 | 8065 W. Vernor Hwy. | Cash, Debit, Credit


Taqueria El Nacimiento

Taqueria El Nacimiento has a large selection of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, all of which are very delicious. I had to feature them for breakfast, however, because of their chilaquiles, which are harder to find at Detroit Mexican eateries. What are chilaquiles, you ask? They are crushed up tortilla chips topped with scrambled eggs, smothered with chihuahua cheese, and served with rice, beans (whole or refried), lettuce, tomato, onion, and sour cream.

I also had to try their huevos con chorizo, which are eggs scrambled with chorizo (a Mexican sausage), and served with rice, beans (whole or refried), and either flour or corn tortillas. Everyone has their preference for tortillas, but keep in mind that their corn tortillas are made fresh in-house. They are even prepared near the seating area for all to see.

These meals kept my friend and I full almost until dinner, making it a great spot for a large breakfast that will keep you fueled for the day. Enjoy their fantastic service, remarkable food, and inviting atmosphere the next time you’re in the mood for an authentic, Mexican meal.

Open Sunday – Thursday 8AM – Midnight; Friday & Saturday 8AM – 4AM | 313-554-1790 | 7400 W. Vernor Hwy. | Cash, Debit, Credit