25 things in Detroit that are gone that we'd really like back


Progress is the name of the game and not everything sticks around forever, whether it's a person, a restaurant, or an attraction. That doesn't mean we haven't lost something that should have stuck around once it disappears. Here are 25 things Detroit once had that it no longer does — and that we think the city would be better off for claiming in the present day.

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Chin Tiki
Detroit currently has a few tiki-themed bars, but before Mutiny Bar in Southwest Detroit and Lost River there was Chin Tiki at 2121 Cass Ave. Established in 1967 by Martin Chin, Chin Tiki was a hotspot in the '60s and reported visits by Muhammad Ali, Barbra Streisand, and Joe DiMaggio. The windowless club featured a lower-level waterfall and bamboo bridge led the way to dozens of romantic, thatch-covered booths, where moony-eyed couples dined on Polynesian delicacies. An enormous aquarium mural glowed under black light, framed a long, elegant rattan bar. The journey upstairs led to an even larger waterfall; the rock-like walls curve around a wave-shaped bar with dozens of Chinese coins suspended in Lucite. The small rattan stage once hosted live music of all genres; an authentic Polynesian floor show, complete with Hawaiian dancers and fire-breathers, was held weekly. When Detroit entered the economic crisis in the 1980s, Chin closed the tiki bar and, aside from being featured in Eminem's autobiographical movie 8 Mile, Chin Tiki remained untouched until it was demolished in 2009. It is now one of many Illitch-owned and sanctioned parking lots.  
Photo via Jim Rees/Flickr

Chin Tiki

Detroit currently has a few tiki-themed bars, but before Mutiny Bar in Southwest Detroit and Lost River there was Chin Tiki at 2121 Cass Ave. Established in 1967 by Martin Chin, Chin Tiki was a hotspot in the '60s and reported visits by Muhammad Ali, Barbra Streisand, and Joe DiMaggio. The windowless club featured a lower-level waterfall and bamboo bridge led the way to dozens of romantic, thatch-covered booths, where moony-eyed couples dined on Polynesian delicacies. An enormous aquarium mural glowed under black light, framed a long, elegant rattan bar. The journey upstairs led to an even larger waterfall; the rock-like walls curve around a wave-shaped bar with dozens of Chinese coins suspended in Lucite. The small rattan stage once hosted live music of all genres; an authentic Polynesian floor show, complete with Hawaiian dancers and fire-breathers, was held weekly. When Detroit entered the economic crisis in the 1980s, Chin closed the tiki bar and, aside from being featured in Eminem's autobiographical movie 8 Mile, Chin Tiki remained untouched until it was demolished in 2009. It is now one of many Illitch-owned and sanctioned parking lots.

Photo via Jim Rees/Flickr
The “Pocket Sandwich” from Goodwell's Natural Foods Market
Before it became the now-shuttered Alley Taco, the space next to Avalon International Breads along the Cass Corridor belonged to Goodwell's Natural Foods Market, home of the gone, but never forgotten, pocket sandwich. Goodwell's, a Black-owned business, offered budget-friendly healthy and organic food choices at a time when the city maintained a reputation as a food desert. While there were many fan favorites at Goodwell's, it is the “Famous Pocket Sandwich” that continues to stand above the rest, even after Goodwell's closed in 2016. The simple whole wheat pita pocket, filled with a vegetarian soy patty topped with baby spinach, romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts, and Goodwell's secret sauce, was just $4.25. 
Photo via  Yelp!/Lynn S.

The “Pocket Sandwich” from Goodwell's Natural Foods Market

Before it became the now-shuttered Alley Taco, the space next to Avalon International Breads along the Cass Corridor belonged to Goodwell's Natural Foods Market, home of the gone, but never forgotten, pocket sandwich. Goodwell's, a Black-owned business, offered budget-friendly healthy and organic food choices at a time when the city maintained a reputation as a food desert. While there were many fan favorites at Goodwell's, it is the “Famous Pocket Sandwich” that continues to stand above the rest, even after Goodwell's closed in 2016. The simple whole wheat pita pocket, filled with a vegetarian soy patty topped with baby spinach, romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts, and Goodwell's secret sauce, was just $4.25.

Photo via Yelp!/Lynn S.
Cool local publications like Real Detroit Weekly, Orbit, and Creem
There was a time when Detroit Metro Times wasn't the only alternative rag in town. You might remember Real Detroit Weekly, which put celebrity interviews, fashion spreads, and local bands on its covers from 1999-2014 and was the place to find out what was happening in town. (Fun fact: RDW and MT merged in 2014.) But before that, there was “America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine” Creem, which rivaled Rolling Stone thanks to its roster of unapologetic and badass writers like Jaan Uhelszki, Robert Christgau, and Lester Bangs. But we could not mention alt-publications out of Detroit without mentioning cult zine Orbit which operated in the '90s with a polished, yet punk attitude and giving famous Detroit artists like Kid Rock, ICP, and the Jack White some of their earliest ink. As much as we at Metro Times love Metro Times, we know we are better together and miss the competition, comradery, and chaos. 
Photos via Metro Times archives

Cool local publications like Real Detroit Weekly, Orbit, and Creem

There was a time when Detroit Metro Times wasn't the only alternative rag in town. You might remember Real Detroit Weekly, which put celebrity interviews, fashion spreads, and local bands on its covers from 1999-2014 and was the place to find out what was happening in town. (Fun fact: RDW and MT merged in 2014.) But before that, there was “America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine” Creem, which rivaled Rolling Stone thanks to its roster of unapologetic and badass writers like Jaan Uhelszki, Robert Christgau, and Lester Bangs. But we could not mention alt-publications out of Detroit without mentioning cult zine Orbit which operated in the '90s with a polished, yet punk attitude and giving famous Detroit artists like Kid Rock, ICP, and the Jack White some of their earliest ink. As much as we at Metro Times love Metro Times, we know we are better together and miss the competition, comradery, and chaos.

Photos via Metro Times archives
Catching a buzz and live music at Zoots Coffeehouse
Don't let the name fool you. Zoots Coffehouse — which was housed in a home on Prentice Street near the Cass Corridor — may not have served as much coffee as it did performances by indie bands like the White Stripes, the Silver Apples, Sleater-Kinney, and Outrageous Cherry. Zoots had a short run (1994-1998) but is described by the people who run the Zoots Coffeehouse Show Archive Facebook page as being “one of the most important places in Detroit music history that no one knew about.” 
Photo by Joseph Lynn/Zoot's Coffeehouse Show Archive

Catching a buzz and live music at Zoots Coffeehouse

Don't let the name fool you. Zoots Coffehouse — which was housed in a home on Prentice Street near the Cass Corridor — may not have served as much coffee as it did performances by indie bands like the White Stripes, the Silver Apples, Sleater-Kinney, and Outrageous Cherry. Zoots had a short run (1994-1998) but is described by the people who run the Zoots Coffeehouse Show Archive Facebook page as being “one of the most important places in Detroit music history that no one knew about.”

Photo by Joseph Lynn/Zoot's Coffeehouse Show Archive
The Michigan State Fair before it crossed Eight Mile
We're not sure why but the Michigan State Fair seems less cool since moving from Detroit to the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi in 2013. Though the first ever Michigan State Fair was held 1838 in Ann Arbor, the annual festival eventually moved to a property at Woodward and Eight Mile in 1905, where the State Fair would take place until 2009. Still referred to as the State Fairgrounds, tech giant Amazon announced in 2020 that it would be taking over the grounds for its new distribution center, sparking concern over whether the abandoned State Fair bandshell would be demolished in the process. Well, Mayor Mike Duggan dropped some good news following an essay published in Detroit Metro Times. The bandshell, which hosted acts like Stevie Wonder, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, the Stooges, Sun Ra, Chuck Berry, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, the MC5, Aretha Franklin, and so many others during its hayday, will be relocated to the neighboring Palmer Park.
Photo via of Virtual Motor City archives/Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University

The Michigan State Fair before it crossed Eight Mile

We're not sure why but the Michigan State Fair seems less cool since moving from Detroit to the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi in 2013. Though the first ever Michigan State Fair was held 1838 in Ann Arbor, the annual festival eventually moved to a property at Woodward and Eight Mile in 1905, where the State Fair would take place until 2009. Still referred to as the State Fairgrounds, tech giant Amazon announced in 2020 that it would be taking over the grounds for its new distribution center, sparking concern over whether the abandoned State Fair bandshell would be demolished in the process. Well, Mayor Mike Duggan dropped some good news following an essay published in Detroit Metro Times. The bandshell, which hosted acts like Stevie Wonder, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, the Stooges, Sun Ra, Chuck Berry, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, the MC5, Aretha Franklin, and so many others during its hayday, will be relocated to the neighboring Palmer Park.

Photo via of Virtual Motor City archives/Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University
Belle Isle pre-Grand Prix 
Perhaps Detroit's biggest, greenest, most beloved gem, Belle Isle has always been a respite from the hustle, bustle, and bullshit. Offering sandy-ish beachfront, stunning views of the Detroit skyline, as well as an aquarium, conservatory, and photogenic fountains, Belle Isle is a special place for metro Detroiters. However, for more than two months in spring/summer, Belle Isle is ripped to shreds to host the three-day Grand Prix racing event which limits visitor access while construction is underway. Race officials say it takes 68 days to set up and breakdown the race, but that doesn't include the time it takes to repair damage to the park.  It's worth noting that the torn up grass is in addition to the permanent damage race organizer Roger Penske's team did in laying a 10-acre concrete paddock and concrete paths that cut across the park. Those see little use outside of the annual race weekend. 
Photo via  Grindstone Media Group/Shutterstock.com

Belle Isle pre-Grand Prix

Perhaps Detroit's biggest, greenest, most beloved gem, Belle Isle has always been a respite from the hustle, bustle, and bullshit. Offering sandy-ish beachfront, stunning views of the Detroit skyline, as well as an aquarium, conservatory, and photogenic fountains, Belle Isle is a special place for metro Detroiters. However, for more than two months in spring/summer, Belle Isle is ripped to shreds to host the three-day Grand Prix racing event which limits visitor access while construction is underway. Race officials say it takes 68 days to set up and breakdown the race, but that doesn't include the time it takes to repair damage to the park. It's worth noting that the torn up grass is in addition to the permanent damage race organizer Roger Penske's team did in laying a 10-acre concrete paddock and concrete paths that cut across the park. Those see little use outside of the annual race weekend.

Photo via Grindstone Media Group/Shutterstock.com
Watts Club Mozambique
Jazz club-turned-exotic male dance club-turned-ash and rubble-turned parking lot? Sounds like the beloved Watts Club Mozambique, which was established in 1969 by Cornelius Watts and fell victim to a fire that destroyed the club beyond repair in 2015. In its earliest incarnation, Watts Club Mozambique was a venue for acts like Lonni Smith, the O'Jays, Grant Green, and Peabo Bryson, and when jazz failed to keep the doors open in the 1980s, Watts decided to flip the club into a male strip club aimed at attracting the city's thirsty women. Thankfully, Watts Club Mozambique left behind a trove of incredible TV commercials for which we are eternally grateful. 
Photo courtesy of the Music Origins Project

Watts Club Mozambique

Jazz club-turned-exotic male dance club-turned-ash and rubble-turned parking lot? Sounds like the beloved Watts Club Mozambique, which was established in 1969 by Cornelius Watts and fell victim to a fire that destroyed the club beyond repair in 2015. In its earliest incarnation, Watts Club Mozambique was a venue for acts like Lonni Smith, the O'Jays, Grant Green, and Peabo Bryson, and when jazz failed to keep the doors open in the 1980s, Watts decided to flip the club into a male strip club aimed at attracting the city's thirsty women. Thankfully, Watts Club Mozambique left behind a trove of incredible TV commercials for which we are eternally grateful.

Photo courtesy of the Music Origins Project
Plum Street 
Considered the Greenwich Village and/or Haight-Ashbury of Detroit, Plum Street was a hippie haven in the 1960s. Plum Street was established by school teacher Robert Cobb, who started buying up buildings with help from real estate developer Sherman Shapiro because he thought Detroit needed a tourist-y counter culture community equivalent to those aforementioned metropolitan districts. The area between Michigan Avenue, the Lodge, and the Fisher Freeways offered head shops, clothing boutiques, bookstores, galleries, and cafes catering to the city's artists, hippies, and activists. By 1969, the area became nefarious for biker gang activity and suburban visitors and eventually fell into disarray. Much of the district is now the MGM Grand Casino. 
Photo via of Virtual Motor City archives/Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University

Plum Street

Considered the Greenwich Village and/or Haight-Ashbury of Detroit, Plum Street was a hippie haven in the 1960s. Plum Street was established by school teacher Robert Cobb, who started buying up buildings with help from real estate developer Sherman Shapiro because he thought Detroit needed a tourist-y counter culture community equivalent to those aforementioned metropolitan districts. The area between Michigan Avenue, the Lodge, and the Fisher Freeways offered head shops, clothing boutiques, bookstores, galleries, and cafes catering to the city's artists, hippies, and activists. By 1969, the area became nefarious for biker gang activity and suburban visitors and eventually fell into disarray. Much of the district is now the MGM Grand Casino.

Photo via of Virtual Motor City archives/Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University
The Russian Five and other iconic players in Detroit sports 
No disrespect, but Detroit sports ain't what they used to be. Aside from the city's soccer team (who saw that coming?), our teams have seen better days, like when hockey legends Sergei Fedorov, Slava Fetisov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Slava Kozlov, and Igor Larionov escaped the clutches of the Iron Curtain to lead the Detroit Red Wings to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories — the first of which marked the franchise's first Cup win in 42 years. Or, take our lovable losers, the Detroit Lions, for example. While it's been, like, more than 50 years since they won a Super Bowl, the '90s lineup included beloved running back Barry Sanders. (We love Calvin Johnson and, at one point, Matthew Stafford, but we suspect a major coaching problem has resulted in the continuing downfall of our NFL heartbreakers.) Oh, and the Pistons? And the Tigers? We will always root for the home team, but good god is it exhausting. 
From left to right: Slava Fetisov, Sergei Fedorov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Igor Larionov and Slava Kozlov. Photo courtesy of The Russian Five filmmakers/Lucky Star Entertainment

The Russian Five and other iconic players in Detroit sports

No disrespect, but Detroit sports ain't what they used to be. Aside from the city's soccer team (who saw that coming?), our teams have seen better days, like when hockey legends Sergei Fedorov, Slava Fetisov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Slava Kozlov, and Igor Larionov escaped the clutches of the Iron Curtain to lead the Detroit Red Wings to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories — the first of which marked the franchise's first Cup win in 42 years. Or, take our lovable losers, the Detroit Lions, for example. While it's been, like, more than 50 years since they won a Super Bowl, the '90s lineup included beloved running back Barry Sanders. (We love Calvin Johnson and, at one point, Matthew Stafford, but we suspect a major coaching problem has resulted in the continuing downfall of our NFL heartbreakers.) Oh, and the Pistons? And the Tigers? We will always root for the home team, but good god is it exhausting.

From left to right: Slava Fetisov, Sergei Fedorov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Igor Larionov and Slava Kozlov. Photo courtesy of The Russian Five filmmakers/Lucky Star Entertainment
Going to underground warehouse/after hours raves
Remember underground raves? The electric and fearless rave culture of the '90s brought parties to the Bankle Building and the abandoned Packard Plant. Sure, we have Movement, an epic electronic music festival, not to mention plenty of clubs (we're looking at you Marble Bar!) spinning techno and house music till the wee hours, but nothing beats the excitement of something... illegal. So, when did things change? Well, we blame Fox 2 and their 1998 undercover investigation into the evils of youth culture, “Crave the Rave," which exposed the illegal raves in the city. The city developed a zero-tolerance policy toward these underground parties, and clubs like Motor in Hamtramck were born from the need for legal parties. 
Photo by Douglas Wojciechowski

Going to underground warehouse/after hours raves

Remember underground raves? The electric and fearless rave culture of the '90s brought parties to the Bankle Building and the abandoned Packard Plant. Sure, we have Movement, an epic electronic music festival, not to mention plenty of clubs (we're looking at you Marble Bar!) spinning techno and house music till the wee hours, but nothing beats the excitement of something... illegal. So, when did things change? Well, we blame Fox 2 and their 1998 undercover investigation into the evils of youth culture, “Crave the Rave," which exposed the illegal raves in the city. The city developed a zero-tolerance policy toward these underground parties, and clubs like Motor in Hamtramck were born from the need for legal parties.

Photo by Douglas Wojciechowski