Detroit mourns the loss of restaurateur and 'spark' of the city, Johnny Lopez

click to enlarge Johnny 'JLo' Lopez at Union Street. - Christopher McNamara
Christopher McNamara
Johnny 'JLo' Lopez at Union Street.

Tributes and memories are pouring in as Detroit mourns the loss of beloved restaurateur Johnny “JLo” Lopez, who died Monday of unknown causes.

Lopez, who was most notably a former partner in Midtown's restaurant and bar Union Street, where he originally worked as a teenager, was also behind now-shuttered eateries Agave, Atlas Bistro, as well as the resurrection of Cass Corridor cafe Twingo's. In recent years, he's worked for Union Street in various roles, as well as at The Majestic, and, most recently, Grosse Pointe Park's Lunch Box Deli.

“John was the hub, the center, and the spark of a very special part of Detroit, in an equally special time,” friend Fred Ward shared on Facebook. “He could unite disparate tribes with his wit, heart, and golden charm.” Ward also called Lopez the “beloved mayor of a wonderful, eccentric community.”

Concert promoter Stirling, who had a running buddy in Lopez, said that losing Lopez is not as much a personal loss as much as it is a loss for the entire community. “He was super fun, and funny, a real happy positive vibe-type of person,” Stirling says.

“Detroit has always been as cool a city as you would find anywhere in the country,” Lopez told Model D in 2005. “I want to change the quality of life for people in this neighborhood.”

A dear friend and comrade, John Lopez, has died. John was the hub.The center and the spark of a very special part of...

Posted by Fred Ward on Monday, May 25, 2020

John, Johnny, JLO, Lopez Our deepest condolences to his family. Thank you for sharing him. He was very dedicated to his...

Posted by Union Street Detroit on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Johnny Lopez was one of a kind. He gave me my first management position. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in...

Posted by Christopher Housholder on Monday, May 25, 2020

Johnny was managing when I started at The Majestic in 2011. I appreciated his energy and he made this 20 yr old baby server feel at home from day 1. Shout out to one of Detroit's realest, J Lo <3

Posted by Kelsey Hubbell on Monday, May 25, 2020

The last time I saw Johnny Lopez was in the one building next to the Fisher Building. We sat in the middle of the...

Posted by Elena Herrada on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

RIP Johnny Lopez. When we first met, we were mates, kindred spirits at first sight. The sadness doesn’t stop. You will be missed, hermano.

Posted by Roger Paz on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

John Lopez rest in peace and the love your city has for you. A truly tragic loss of a Detroit legend.

Posted by Stirling Detroit on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Damn. I'm going to miss Johnny Lopez a lot. Rest easy, J -Lo.

Posted by Andrea Boomstick on Monday, May 25, 2020

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