Editor’s Letter: Back to School, Closer to Normal

Editor Dan Caccavaro on the March issue of ’Hour Detroit’

I had this notion a few weeks back that when my kids finally returned to
in-person school for the first time since last March — which they did on Feb. 1 — I’d actually miss having them at home. 

Ha! That was a good one.

The morning we sent our masked minions back to the professionals who actually know what a four-part area model multiplication problem is, I did feel a pang of loss. It had been a year of sharing my days with our three kids — being on hand to applaud their small victories and coach them through their challenges. Those priceless interactions were a small silver lining to an otherwise exhausting year. 

Dan Caccavaro
Dan Caccavaro

But then I sat down at my desk — and cranked through more work before my second cup of coffee than I’d managed in many an afternoon spent proctoring Zoom calls, troubleshooting technical difficulties, and negotiating three-way peace treaties among warring parties all claiming ownership of one Nintendo Switch. And when I realized I’d no longer need to work double shifts most days (the second starting after bedtimes and easily stretching past 1 a.m.), I came as close to busting a dance move as the reserved New Englander in me will ever get.

I was thinking about this when buttoning up our package this month on the ways in which our world will have been transformed once we’ve finally put this pandemic behind us. We’re a long way from there still, but as the vaccination push gains steam, there is reason for hope. Getting kids back to in-person school, I’m convinced, is one of the most important steps (after achieving herd immunity) toward restoring a semblance of vitality to our moribund nation. Whether all those parents-turned-indentured educators out there will ever return to an old-fashioned office is one of the questions our package explores. (Short answer: Don’t bank on it.)  

Elsewhere in the March issue, we offer a twist on one of our most highly anticipated features of the year, our annual selection of Restaurant of the Year. Considering that restaurants were largely closed or operating under new formats and limited hours in 2020, it would have been nearly impossible to name a Restaurant of the Year winner according to our traditional standards of excellence in service, ambiance, and cuisine. Restaurateurs, however, have remained hard at work — few as productively as Chef Maxcel Hardy, our first-ever Restaurateur of the Year.

When his restaurant Coop, a Caribbean fusion stall at Detroit Shipping Co., closed in the spring, Hardy spearheaded Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen for Good, feeding thousands of the area’s food-insecure. He opened a new restaurant, Jeds Detroit, launched a new line of spices, worked on a new cookbook on cannabis-infused dishes, and fed hundreds of voters in lines at the polls during last year’s historic election.

Accompanying our feature on Hardy is a roundup of 10 — and yes, there were more than 10 — of the most interesting new restaurants to burst onto metro Detroit’s dining scene over the past year. With this much going on here despite the challenges of our time, it’s exciting to imagine what we’ll see once we’re finally free from the clutches of this now one-year-old pandemic.

Read the digital edition of our March issue here