Family, friends and local organizations and supporters, including TechTown Detroit and East Warren Development Corporation, joined the Detroit Pepper Company owner and operator Marlin Hughes at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the carry-out restaurant’s grand opening today.
Located at 17180 E. Warren, in the East Warren Corridor neighborhood, the Detroit Pepper Company specializes in stuffed bell peppers, pepper salads and grain bowls aimed to satisfy the taste buds and diets of health-conscious customers. The Detroit Pepper Company is a recipient of a Motor City Match grant, awarded in Round Nine.
“The Detroit Pepper Company is another example of how the Motor City Match program is helping longtime Detroiters realize their dreams of owning their own business,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “When we see entrepreneurs like Mr. Hughes turning a talent into a business, more Detroiters will see that it can be possible for them as well.”
The opening of this restaurant is a long time coming for Hughes. He conceived the concept after family and friends raved about stuffed peppers he served during a gathering nearly eight years ago. It also coincided with Hughes’ dietary and lifestyle changes, which included following a vegan diet and running marathons, and his desire for a place that he and his son, who has autism, could share.
“My son is my driving force. He provides the energy and inspiration I need for my everyday life and especially for this restaurant where we both work,” said Hughes.
The Detroit Pepper Company joins a growing list of new, diverse businesses that fit the needs and character established along the East Warren commercial corridor, including Flamz Pizzeria, Morningside Café and ZAB Cultural Collective.
“It’s invigorating to be one of many entrepreneurs taking part in restoring East Warren into the thriving, walkable business district it once was and improving the quality of life for its residents,” added Hughes. “Our food will draw people who live and work in this neighborhood, but also from nearby communities and beyond. The stuffed peppers and smoothies are a healthy option for those looking for a fast, nutritious meal on the go or to serve to their families on any given day of the week.”
Joe Rashid, executive director of East Warren Development Corporation, an organization that works to support and enhance the East Warren commercial district and adjacent neighborhoods through collaboration, community engagement and equitable development, added: “The Detroit Pepper Company is an awesome addition to the area. East Warren currently has 45 percent retail occupancy and remains committed to facilitating growth along that stretch. Our goal is to reach 100 percent business occupancy of East Warren by 2022 with a diverse mix of walkable, accessible, community-driven businesses that serve everyone in the community. Detroit Pepper Company is one of nine new businesses that have opened on the corridor this year, with many more opening in 2020.”
Handmade using a family-tested and approved recipe, Hughes’ signature Detroit Stuffed Pepper is filled with garlic, rice and black beans in a red sauce and can be prepared with ground beef or turkey and choice of cheese: cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan or vegan mozzarella. The Detroit Stuffed Pepper also is available in a vegan option that includes diced tomatoes, squash, carrots, garden veggies and the customer’s choice of cheese. Order options include Single, Meal and Family servings. Mixed grains, roasted potato medley, braised mixed greens, fresh mixed fruit and lentil bean, pepper veggie or vegan chili soups complete the list of “sides” on the menu.
Hearty grain bowls are made with a heaping blend of quinoa rice, fresh veggies and seasonings. There are three variations on the menu: Inside-Out Pepper and Taco Salad and Jerk Lentil. For the latter two, Hughes puts his own spin on the classic flavors found in Mexican and Caribbean cuisine.
The menu also includes refreshing smoothies and ginger lemonade that are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and enzymes from fresh, seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables. Salads loaded with an assortment of greens, veggies and, of course, bell peppers, also are available.
To turn the Detroit Pepper Company concept into a reality, Hughes worked with TechTown Detroit’s SWOT City, a program that provides one-on-one assistance to help launch, stabilize and grow local businesses and strengthen neighborhood commercial districts.
“Entrepreneurs like Marlin with a vision and passion for bringing a unique and welcomed offering are essential to revitalizing one of Detroit’s growing neighborhood commercial districts,” said Amy Rencher, TechTown Detroit’s SWOT City director. “TechTown is proud to partner with small business resources at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) to support Detroit small business start-ups that contribute significantly to our local economy.”
Drew Lucco, MCM program manager for DEGC added: “Motor City Match is committed to helping Detroit entrepreneurs offer goods and services that are in demand in Detroit neighborhoods. MCM is proud to help Marlin offer healthy food options on one of the city’s historic commercial corridors. The Detroit Pepper Company is a great example of how support agencies like the DEGC and TechTown, working with intrepid entrepreneurs like Marlin, can result in more vibrant commercial corridors.”
The Detroit Pepper Company is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, visit TheDetroitPepperCompany.com.