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Opinion: The enlightened path to social entrepreneurship

(revolver) is a beautiful place. As it sits now, it is spare and minimal with glass window frontage overlooking the street. In the daytime, a little of the restaurant wears the softest part of the sun’s glare, and the rest of the dining area naps in an easy shade.

At night, when most things are asleep (revolver) rouses; its evening hush (as branded by Home Depot) grey and imperfectly painted walls are moody and sensual. The red chandeliers, with their exposed bulbs, hang over the communal tables, throwing a waning glow across the room.

At the tables, people are talking to each other, sharing anecdotes; forks suspended in mid-bite between plates and expectant mouths, suspended to hear that last important bit of story, so they can laugh uninterruptedly and after, eat uninterruptedly as well, both conversation and consumption requiring its own attention.

The lights are dimmed, the music sifts through settling gently on the ear. It’s just magic.

The best things in the world are amber. Pouring honey colored whiskey down a long thick tumbler, a makeshift shot glass, it will do for now. We watch the spirit rush and quickly flood the bottom until it rises to about a two finger thick pour. Peter (Editor's note: that's (revolver) co-founder/co-owner Peter Dalinowski) and I clink the glasses, I bring it to my mouth to drink but not before I inhale the sweet amber, and then we both drink. It’s our pre-dinner salute, cheers to a good night, to our guests’ enjoyment, to a delicious meal, to our success, to our fears… it helps quiet the noise before we both begin serving diners. The amber drink burns masochistically as it glides down our throats. We both grimace, even though the whiskey is smooth… then its time.

Around 8:45 p.m., unsure travelers are walking the sidewalk. The granite ground greets their hesitant steps with some echoes. They are diners, some travelling far, converging unhurriedly at (revolver). Our second dinner seating will begin in less than 20 minutes but they decided to get here a little earlier because they don’t know what to expect. 

(revolver) is unobtrusive 

We are hemmed between a coney island and a podiatrist office, part of a larger row of unbroken storefronts on a block in Hamtramck's central business district. We have no prominent markers, except a red hand painted "(revolver)" sign on our largest glass plane, so most passersby walk by us unaware. But they never walk too far past because there is fun on the other side of the glass, real fun even if temporary. 

You know you are at the right place when other tentative, wine-toting diners start slowly congregating around you, all waiting excitedly for 9 p.m. There is as much talking and laughing, with equal gusto, on the outside as there is in the restaurant. You’re beginning to understand what to expect. 

Forty people use up a lot of plateware and silverware, leaving not an insignificant number of happy dishes, half-drunk bottles and glasses to be cleaned. In the back, just behind the kitchen, the three compartment dishwashing sink shines in all its stainless steel glory piled high with an assortment of plates, scullery, and abandoned food. This is hard work, but no work is hard when properly lubricated by laughter, love songs from an internal and private playlist. 

The times when we were without a dishwasher we all had to get dirty, to get clean, so to speak.

The cuff comes undone as I pull my sleeves to my elbows, diving my hands into the hot, sud-steeped sink. Peter brings me a glass of wine and away I go, scrubbing and singing, singing and scrubbing, and sometimes breaking into a little dance. Then Peter comes around to join, taking a break from serving diners in the front of the house, his hands soaked elbow deep washing, then our restaurnat manager Alison comes: she might look and act all business, but it’s always fun even as she moves through the dishes with a little more urgency than me. 

A few days later...

With none of the frenetic energy that had swarmed it a couple of days prior, the sink looked rueful and bored. I said to Dujuan, our superior (sometimes pickled-fingers) dishwasher, "this is where the magic happens…" and he smiled.

What am I really talking about? Magic? But (revolver) is nothing more than a hip restaurant concept, soon to be a passing fad (as a dear and plain spoken friend recently told me), right? Wrong.

Like a theater full of people or an orchestra brimming with listeners, when all the audience sits and the show starts, the veritable stars of the performance are our diners and we (Peter, Alison, Dujuan, our guest chefs) are really the lucky ones for whom this plays out it.

To listen in as people make new friends; to sing a collective happy birthday to a celebrating party; to witness serendipity over and over again with good food as the great excuse for this is our joy every weekend. Even dinners bookended or punctuated by the slips, falls, bills, unexpected expenses, back aches, floor fires, and the general malaise of paperwork are worth it all.

(revolver) is an experience that cannot be unstitched; the food, the people, the place, the feeling are all it. David Blaine ain’t got shit on us.

(revolver) is a new restaurant in Hamtramck. It offers multi-course prix-fixe dinner prepared by a revolving cast of guest chefs. Menus and offerings change routinely. It is owned by Peter Dalinowski and Tunde Wey. Go here to make reservations for Friday, Nov. 8, when Chef Phil Jones takes over the kitchen and for future seatings.
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