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Detroit Seafood Market says its part of rebuilding Detroit

With a new owner, Kenny Akinwale who brings decades of national food service executive experience to the Detroit Seafood Market, the downtown restaurant has quickly become one of the stop shops in downtown Detroit for eatery and fine dinning.

From Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to the average Detroiter, the restaurant according to Akinwale has been an excellent dinning experience for the variety of guests visiting the restaurant daily.

During the year, the restaurant aside from being a major dinning hub for Detroiters and guests visiting the downtown area, has also been a place for events such as not only birthday parties, but also political fundraisers, religious functions as well as holiday receptions for organizations and institutions in metro Detroit.

Perhaps it’s most busiest week is the Detroit Restaurant Week where according to Akinwale the restaurant sees an influx of guests enjoying three-course meals for less prices that includes a main course, desert and a vegetarian alternative.

“It’s just make sense in this tough economic times to make our food reasonable for our guests while providing quality and excellent service to them,” Akinwale said. “Here at the Detroit Seafood Market we value our customers. That is why we emphasize on providing quality service that makes them feel at home in downtown.”

Akinwale said his restaurant is more than just a dinning place in the city. It is a job provider employing more than 40 people calling it, “the opportunity to fill a niche that was missing the city and providing jobs for members of the community.”  

He believes that Detroit’s revitalization lies in the growth of small businesses like his that are key to providing jobs for families in this tough economy.

When he decided to open the restaurant Akinwale said it was initially difficult.

“It was very challenging because of the economic climate, and the issues of the previous restaurant at the same location prior to us. The city was very helpful in providing the support necessary to get started,” he explained adding that the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) which oversees business development in Detroit provided needed support for the restaurant to begin operation.

DEGC under the leadership of George Jackson has been doggedly pursuing businesses to come to Detroit. He most recently negotiated to have Whole Foods to open in Detroit a year from now.

The restaurant’s location to two major entertainment centers in the downtown area, the Detroit Opera House and the Detroit Music Hall is an added value for Akinwale. During most major concerts at those venues, many of the attendees end up dinning at the restaurant before heading back to their final destinations.

Added to the restaurant is it’s PV Lounge next door which it says offers “up to date bar scene for urban dwelling professionals in search of an upscale club-like setting featuring the area’s finest entertainment.”

Many businesses are biting the dust in this biting economy.

“We are at a crossroad because of the local economic condition. We've been very successful with our targeted demographics. Our foundation is very strong financially and we are building on the success,” Akinwale explained.

The restaurant’s clientele is diverse and he considers that central to its survival.

“Majority of our clientele are from Grosse Pointe, Southfield, West Bloomfield, Windsor in Canada, Royal Oak and Birmingham. We also have over 24% of our clientele from out of the state,” Akinwale said.

The recurring theme of Detroit being a fertile ground for small business is not a cliché especially when the city has potential to redefine its image as a place to do good business.  

“It is very difficult for a small business to survive without a strong financial stability and a niche that is unique,” Akinwale said. “I strongly believe that Detroit is clearly on it's way to becoming a fertile land for small businesses.”

Because of the success the restaurant has registered so far since it’s opening Akinwale said he’s been getting lots of questions from aspiring entrepreneurs about how to jump-start a business.

“The very reality is that you may find it hard to succeed. The statistics speaks for itself,” he said. “But entering into a business demands taking risk. You have to be able to take calculated risk to succeed knowing that its not all the time you will win.”

And what should Detroit do to encourage more businesses like the Detroit Seafood Market and others?

“The city needs to provide tax incentives for small businesses, patronize these businesses and promote the successes of the current small businesses in the city,” Akinwale said.

In the next five years he hopes the restaurant will expand to more locations because “we are very excited to be a part of rebuilding the great city of Detroit.”     

Detroit Seafood Market can be reached at (313) 962-4180.

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