More than 200 restaurateurs, small business owners, and community leaders celebrated the re-launch of the Detroit Restaurant Association (DRA) during a launch event at Eastern Market on Tuesday. The DRA represents metro Detroit’s food service and hospitality industry and works to help both members and the public learn how to impact the local restaurant scene and Detroit’s continued revival.
After stopping operations in the wake of the 1967 city riots, the DRA became a local chapter of the statewide Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) in March. The restored organization will focus on providing program benefits to the nearly 900 establishments throughout metro Detroit and advocating for local industry concerns at the city, state, and national levels.
“The interest in our association reflects the investment these operators have made and continue to make in the City of Detroit,” says Herasanna Richards, director of DRA, which is located in the Ford Building. “Local restaurant and allied service proprietors are part of the new economic backbone strengthening our hometown. We’re thrilled so many of them could join us, because they’re the reason all of this is possible.”
The DRA Board of Directors, which includes Detroit-based owners and distributors, also educated the group on the vision and values of the organization. According to DRA data, it’s collective members generated $686.7 million in annual eating and drinking sales, employs 11,600 workers, and will assist its members with ServSafe training programs for food managers, food handlers, and other restaurant employees.
“One thing you’ll find in common with local business owners, employees and patrons is that we all believe in the City of Detroit,” says Timothy Tharp, chair of the DRA Board and owner of Grand Trunk Pub in downtown Detroit. “We employ local, we invest local, and we give back whatever we can because there is a love for this place that goes above and beyond the bricks and mortar. We’re all in it together, which is why the return of the Detroit Restaurant Association is such an important step forward.”
The DRA represents more than 1,000 restaurants operating in metro Detroit through advocacy, education, and leadership. Members include the London Chop House, Traffic Jam and Snug, Cliff Bells, and Amore da Roma (opening in November).