In 2019, Ashley Price was having a conversation with Jonathan Hartzell about opening a high-end spirits store in the city. After more brainstorming with Rick Stanza of Detroit Rising Development and eventually chef Brendon Edwards, the idea evolved into a restaurant/cocktail bar/market now housed in the former Craft Work space in West Village.
The neighborhood is home to a booming food and drink scene with favorites like Sister Pie as well as another market/restaurant in Marrow. The Louisiana-influenced Gabriel Hall is also setting up shop there in the near future.
“The original location planning was in Midtown,” says Price, who handles the store side of the business. “It wasn’t working out as Craft Work became available. The idea of implanting a bodega-style market along with a neighborhood restaurant and bar became very exciting for everyone.”
Metropolitan Variety Store and the complementary Bar and Kitchen is the brainchild of Edwards, Price and Hartzell and Stanza, who are the leads of Detroit Rising Development, a commercial and residential development company that worked on other restaurant concepts such as Detroit Shipping Co. and Supino Pizzeria.
Price worked for years at Holiday Market specializing in craft beer and he’s brought that expertise to Metropolitan’s shelves, offering kombucha from Urbanrest as well as special collabs and exclusive offerings.
“We have a namesake beer available now made by Austin Brothers Brewing in Alpena aptly named Murktopolitan,” Price says. The store is also working with Brewery Faisan on a barrel-aged beer project featuring Islandview brewery’s Doré winter warmer, which was aged in a Whistle Pig whiskey barrel. Price says the store also stocks a hand-picked selection from lesser-known makers and big names as well as locally made wines such as Grand Rapids-based Native Species Winery.
Price says he’s always been “a proponent of good people making good things locally” and that commitment to local producers extends to the snacks and foodstuffs. The store boasts a large selection of Michigan-made products such as Browndog Creamery ice cream, Aunt Nee’s chips and salsa (Metropolitan Variety Store is the first to offer the company’s guacamole), Guernsey Dairy, and more. Metropolitan recently added produce from neighbor Dot’s Markets.
On the restaurant side, which opened up its reservation books on Nov. 18, chef Brendon Edwards, who was the chef at Gold Cash Gold in Corktown, runs the kitchen. The CalMex menu features fresh and housemade ingredients — “salsa negra, house-made tortillas, plantains and green chiles pepper the menu,” Price says — in dishes like Roasted Cauliflower with salsa negra-plantain relish and Carne Asada, a 10-ounce steak with tomatillo escabeche-toasted corn souboise.
Metropolitan Variety Store officially opened on Nov. 11, and Metropolitan Bar and Kitchen is now taking reservations. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Metropolitan Variety Store, 8047 Agnes St., Detroit; 313-469-0976; metropolitanvariety.com