Market Value

Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe // Photograph by David Lewinski

When Zaccaro’s Market opened two years ago in a street-level space at the Crystal Lofts on Woodward at Watson in Midtown Detroit, it was almost doomed to fail. The market catered to loft dwellers in the neighborhood, but less-affluent longtime residents were largely overlooked.

Its gourmet approach, price structure, and limited inventory couldn’t be sustained by patrons drawn primarily from just one segment of the population.

Brothers Michael and Peter Solaka, who are about to revive their family’s Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe in the airy 9,000-square-foot space vacated by Zaccaro’s, say they are determined not to make the same mistake.

In addition to fresh meat and seafood — none pre-packaged, by the way — the market will be “a full-service, user-friendly urban grocery store,” says Michael, who is president of the New Center Council. “You’ll find everything to put a meal together. Yes, we’ll have English butter, but we’ll also have Land O’ Lakes.”

Adds Peter, who also owns and operates the Gourmet Deli in the Renaissance Center: “It’s a big project with many challenges, but we’ve got our hearts completely in it.”

Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe, which has a targeted opening date of May 8, will also stock mops, brooms, and cleaning supplies. They plan to carry a wide selection of beer and wine, and offer a patio for casual dining. The renovations will include a parking lot and rear entrance.

If the name Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe sounds familiar, that’s because it was a vital presence in Lafayette Park, where it was run by the Solaka brothers’ father and uncle during the 1970s and ’80s. And despite the butcher-shop name, it too carried more than meat.

Michael remembers helping out at the shop when he was 14 years old, which is no surprise given that the family has been in the grocery business since the 1950s, when the Solakas’ grandfather opened a store near Wayne State University.

Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe is not the only sign of retail-grocery life in the vicinity. About seven blocks north, at 4206 Woodward, Kim and Hollis Smith recently opened Kim’s Produce in a brightly painted storefront where they sell fresh produce, organic spices, and milk and eggs from the Calder Dairy, along with a few prepared foods, including two soups daily.

And on Cass and Canfield, near the Motor City Brewing Works, Will Branch and Zach Klein are about to open a charcuterie called Corridor Sausage. It will produce handcrafted patés, terrines, and fresh and smoked sausages. (They have been making their products at a facility in Howell).

This summer, in July, Slows Bar BQ plans to open a second location at 4107 Cass, adding yet more welcome sustenance to Midtown.