Juan Carlos Dueweke-Pérez Showcases the Delicious Diversity of Southwest Detroit

Plus, his favorite spots in the metro area
Juan Carlos Dueweke-Perez - El Rey de Las Arepas
Juan Carlos Dueweke-Pérez is co-founder of Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week, showcasing the diversity of cuisines represented in the area, like El Rey de Las Arepas.

Juan Carlos Dueweke-Pérez has been an entrepreneur since he was 11. Now 32, Dueweke-Pérez is the founder and owner of marketing and public relations agency Featherstone Moments and the co-founder of Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week (SWDRW), to name just a couple of this multihyphenate’s
many pursuits. 

Dueweke-Pérez’s food industry experience began after his dad lost his job and the family started making cheesecakes to make ends meet. Eleven-year-old Dueweke-Pérez sold the cheesecakes door-to-door and hated it. He became known around the community as El Chisquero (roughly translated to “Cheesecake Boy”).

“It was an interesting time of my life. I didn’t see the whole benefit of being an entrepreneur back then,” he says. “But it opened up a lot of doors.” For example, now as an adult, he works with and encounters people who remember him as “El Chisquero.” 

That cheesecake enterprise fueled him to found Featherstone Moments, telling businesses’ unique stories. Around the same time, he founded the business (in 2016), he also noticed the growing dining scene in Detroit in neighborhoods like Corktown and Midtown.

“There were places in Southwest and in other spots throughout the city that, maybe they don’t look as hip, but they were dope,” he says. “So, I got mad [they didn’t get as much attention]. And from there, it was just taking my skills from the cheesecake time … and being able to make a first step.”

He and his business plan instructor-turned-collaborator Monica Casarez took that first step to launch Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week in 2018. The pandemic halted the multiday culinary event showcasing the community’s rich diversity (it’s more than just Mexicantown), and sadly, Casarez passed away due to complications from COVID-19. But Dueweke-Pérez says Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week is coming back this year from Sept 16–25 and will feature about 25-30 restaurants.

Dueweke-Pérez says his responsibility with SWDRW is not only to educate people about the different communities that call Southwest Detroit home but also to use it as an opportunity to unite communities that have experienced racial tension in the past. 

“It’s not just about making people get along,” he says. “It’s about getting people to see how similar you are to someone.” 

For more information on Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week, go to swdetroitrestaurantweek.com 

Juan Carlos Dueweke-Pérez’s Go-To List

El Rey de Las Arepas
El Rey de Las Arepas, which specializes in Venezuelan fare like chicharrones dinner with black beans and rice.

El Rey de las Arepas (Southwest Detroit) 

Avocado or cheese arepas. It doesn’t matter when or why you get them; they always hit the spot.” El Rey de las Arepas, 7701 McGraw Ave., Detroit; 313-307-2210; facebook.com 

Amadeus (Ann Arbor)

For Polish-Hungarian, dim light, a small-town feel, a romantic atmosphere, and a tasty selection of wine. I love their potato pancakes, especially the Amadeus Placek.” Amadeus, 122 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; 734-665-8768; amadeusrestaurant.com

Qahwah House (Dearborn)

Mofawar and Adeni Chai. The first time I tried them, my perception of coffee was challenged. This would be my go-to daily if I lived nearby.” Qahwah House, 6655 Schaefer Road, Dearborn; 313-908-4521; qahwahhouse.com

La Jalisciense (Southwest Detroit) 

One thing that is not comparable to any other Mexican restaurant is their red pepper peanut salsa.” La Jalisciense, 3923 Vernor Hwy, Detroit; 313-551-0522; lajalisciensedetroit.com   

This story is from the May 2022 issue of Hour Detroit. Read more stories in our digital edition