Déjà Food

A Jazzy Harp and a Musical Fountainat Café Gourmet

I have fond memories of Café Gourmet on Hamilton near Six Mile Road in the early ’60s. It was located on a block of brick buildings fronting the sidewalks. Very unpretentious from the outside. It felt like finding a secret place when you finally found the door.

This was the scene of the first date with my future husband — a marriage that lasted 44 years. We loved this romantic setting — candles, flowers, and lowered lighting as well as gourmet meals and excellent service.

Another reason my date selected the Café Gourmet: He was aware of my love of jazz.

I was thrilled to observe that the dining tables were arranged around a lower center stage.

On stage was a large, beautiful fountain — I seem to remember a mermaid — something nautical. (Editor’s note: The fountain reacted to music: an outer ring to low notes, the inner ring to high tones.)

Serenading the patrons was the Detroit gem, jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby. This was early in her career. I felt fortunate to enjoy her before she left Detroit in the late ’60s for a successful performance and recording career.

We were unhappy when the cafe closed. It remains one of my most treasured memories. I know I have a purple matchbook cover from Café Gourmet. Unfortunately, I have yet to find it among my other memorabilia.

— Loretta Geiger, Livonia



Do you have a story of a long-gone restaurant from metro Detroit’s storied past? Share your anecdotes of memorable meals or restaurant people — but don’t wax too poetic.  We’re only talking 200-300 words. If you have fun snapshots, all the better. We’ll give a $100 gift certificate to one of the finer “modern” restaurants in town to the author of items we publish. Email us at editorial@hourdetroit.com or snail mail us at 117 W. Third St., Royal Oak, MI 48067. Just put “Deja Food” on the subject line or envelope.

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