Food & Drink

Russell Street Deli owner ends fundraiser for Hamtramck pizza and pasta spot

March 20, 2021, 9:21 AM by  Violet Ikonomova


Update, March 20, 2021:

The online fundraiser for the restaurant has ended prematurely. Less than $6,000 had been raised as of Friday night.

Original post, March 16, 2021:

Russell Street Deli, the former Eastern Market institution that closed in 2019 following a dispute with its new landlord, is hoping to build on its legacy with a new restaurant in Hamtramck.

In a twee video set to piano music, owner Ben Hall and his wife Arielle Laws (with a squirmy toddler in hand) pitch the public on a new dinner spot with booze in what is currently the Baker Streetcar Bar on Joseph Campau Avenue.

Handmade pizza and pasta will be on the menu, in a move an explainer on crowd-sourcing site IndieGoGo says gives the chefs "a lot more wiggle room economically."

"If you think about it, a pizza ain’t nothing but a big ol’ open-faced sandwich anyway and sauces are just soup," the listing adds to reassure former customers who were hoping for another deli concept. There are plans, however, for a monthly brunch.

But there's a catch: Hall and Laws say they'll need $175,000 in public contributions, money on top of what they plan to invest to bring the vision to life. If enough money is not raised, donations will be returned and the plan will be scrapped.

Hall previously abandoned plans for a second restaurant in Corktown, selling the building where it was to open shortly after Ford announced it would redevelop the train station that anchors the neighborhood. It went for $535,000, more than twice what Hall bought it for in 2013.

Hall closed Russell Street Deli after the building's owner sought to charge him tens of thousands of dollars for a repair. At the time, he said the eatery was operating on a razor-thin margin, owing to the fact that it does not serve alcohol and paid employees a living wage.

Hall also operates a separate wholesale soup business under the Russell Street Deli name.

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