Exclusive Interview: Detroit’s Eastern Market Manager LONNI THOMAS!

Exclusive Interview: Detroit’s Eastern Market Manager LONNI THOMAS!

 

*Detroit Bookfest would not have been possible at Eastern Market without the love and support of Eastern Market Manager Lonni Thomas*

 

Detroit is a great American city and the Eastern Market Neighborhood is one of the top retail districts in Detroit and one of the top food hubs in the USA.

The Eastern Market District has been around since 1891 and contains over 250 businesses and the entire neighborhood is growing at a rapid rate.

 

Eastern Market (c. 1930’s) photo courtesy of Wayne State University

 

Eastern Market is a phenomenal resource and destination spot. I cannot imagine the City of Detroit without Eastern Market, that’s how important the Eastern Market District is to the entire Greater Detroit community.

The five Sheds at Eastern Market are large consumer buildings and total around 165,000 square feet of space, which is used as both wholesale food market on some days and rented out for a wide variety of public & private events on other days.

Eastern Market Manager, Lonni Thomas, has been a pivotal figure at the Market over the past few years and this is her tale.

 

Biography

Lonni Thomas, Eastern Market Manager

 

“I was born and raised in Detroit. I love working at Eastern Market! I also like to read, write, dance, etc. I also love going to poetry slams. To me, poetry is so emotional and effective and listening to different poetry live can really have an impact on you by making you think differently about things.”

 

Aerial View of Detroit, Michigan USA

 

Lonni Arrives at Eastern Market

“I was adopted into the Eastern Market Corporation family in 2010 as a Farm Stand Fellow. I used to do the food assistance tokens program here, which is designed to help people have greater access to fresh produce. Through that I gained several great relationships, including Dan Carmody and Doshia Barton.”

“I used to volunteer at the EMC office on weekends. Then in 2011, I graduated from Wayne State University and needed a job. The woman who used to design t-shirts for Eastern Market was in transition and before she did, she helped get me into her position and I started designing Eastern Market gear and apparel. Progressively, I started creating relationships with Eastern Market vendors.  And as the variety of my responsibilities increased, I started spending more and more time at the Market.”

“I had office experience from my days working as a WSU Student Assistant, so I began shadowing the Sunday Market Manager at Eastern Market in 2014 because she needed an assistant. A few years later, through a series of gradual internal promotions, I was given the Sunday Market Manager position in 2016. Since then we have increased our footprint significantly and sustainably.”

“I also coordinate the Tuesday Market Community Programs and the Thursday Night Market.”

 

Eastern Market 101

Map of Eastern Market SHEDS

 

“Eastern Market is a historic urban public market. Overall, the Market is robust and vivacious and can get real busy. The Market is a great, safe atmosphere, no matter what day you come visit. We attract a very diverse group of people and the Eastern Market District has a wide variety of merchants.”

“Eastern Market is run by the EMC. The Eastern Market Corporation is a non-profit that was started in 2006 to manage Eastern Market. The City of Detroit owns the land and used to run the Market prior to the formation of the EMC. A group of urban planners pitched the idea of revitalizing the Eastern Market District. The city loved it and let them take over the Market.”

“Our 150-acre expansion plan is in the works. Building on our food hub nickname, the plan is designed to help build the food innovation mission we have and create over 3,000 jobs by 2025.”

 

Map of Eastern Market District

 

“We also have a brewery in our neighborhood now, the Eastern Market Brewing Company. And recently, Henry the Hatter moved from Broadway to Riopelle, just down the street from the EMBC.”

“One thing I love too is that artwork has become very prevalent throughout the District, especially the Murals in the Market series.”

“Murals in the Market has helped create over 100 murals in the district, making us as we say an ‘international public arts destination, while creating a world-class outdoor gallery of art’.”

“Many people want to know how they can open a brick-and-mortar storefront here in the district. I always tell them to contact the owners of the building they are interested in.”

 

The Legendary Dan Carmody

Dan Carmody, President of Eastern Market Corporation

 

Dan Carmody is the President of the EMC. Working with Dan is fun! He’s been responsible for my growth and helping to push me to get certain projects done. He doesn’t burn you for failing, he burns you for not trying.”

“In that 1999 movie ‘Life’, there’s a scene where two guys are standing on coke bottles, trying to keep their balance. That’s what it’s like working with Dan, he’s unpredictable daily, constantly and you appreciate the sense of unexpectedness.”

“Having Dan here is like having some zen monk here at Eastern Market who makes you think about things differently. Watching him give speeches about the Market and how he delivers our mission, it’s remarkable.”

 

Eastern Market’s Largest Events

Eastern Market Flower Day @ 6 a.m.

 

Eastern Market Flower Day started in 1967. The event is only one day long but averages 150,000-200,000 people. We do it in conjunction with the Metro Detroit Flower Growers Association. Flower Day opens everything, it’s the start of our season, the market starts blooming.”

Eastern Market After Dark started in 2010. It’s a creative arts event that we do in conjunction with the Detroit Design Festival. We get about 25,000 people for it.”

 

Detroit Festival of Books (aka: Detroit Bookfest)

 

The Detroit Festival of Books, also known as Detroit Bookfest, is an incredibly positive and popular event. The very first year, there were well over 10,000 attendees, which is just wild for a first-time event to have that many people there.”

“People are excited and curious about Bookfest. Everybody wants to sell books and records and other stuff at it. I get asked almost daily if Bookfest is still accepting vendors, it’s crazy how many people are interested in the event. Bookfest is one of the top vendor events we’ve ever seen in the city, everyone wants to be a vendor. It’s a true phenomenon.”

“Detroit Bookfest this year might have over 20,000 people.”

 

Lonni’s Favorites

Burger @ Cutters Bar (photo courtesy of Yelp)

 

Here are some of Lonni’s favorite go-to eateries in Detroit:

Basement Burger Bar (1326 Brush St) for the turkey burger and the mambo burger

Cutters (2638 Orleans st) and Café D’Mongo’s (1439 Griswold St) are her favorite bars

Stache International (1416 E. Fisher Service Dr) for the Southern Belle sandwich

Andiamo’s (400 Renaissance Center) Italian food inside the RenCen while overlooking the Detroit River

2941 Street Food (4219 Woodward) Fantastic Mediterranean food from a world-class chef

 

Lonni’s Final Thoughts

Lonni Thomas

 

I love Detroit. I was born here, raised here, still live here. I’m here until my cup runneth over. Detroit’s revitalization has been in the making for at least 10 years.”

“We’re witnessing a tremendous transformation right now stemming from a plan created by people who have been business owners for a few decades here.”

“Detroit is often called “the city that grew from ashes” a few yeas ago but in actuality our house never burned down fully because we have such a strong foundation.”

 

 

Eastern Market Weekly Market Days

Tuesday Market

9am-3pm

 

Thursday Night Market

5pm-10pm

 

Saturday Market

6am-4pm

225 vendors; 40,000 guests

 

Sunday Market

10am-4pm

 

Lonni Thomas clownin’

 

Eastern Market Homepage

https://www.easternmarket.org/

 

Maps of Eastern Market

https://www.easternmarket.org/district/maps

 

List of Businesses in Eastern Market

https://www.easternmarket.org/district/directory

 

4th International Mural Fest with 1xRUN in September 2018

www.muralsinthemarket.com

 

Dan Carmody’s article on the Market 

http://detroitisit.com/eastern-market-more-than-125-years-in-the-making/

 

Eastern Market’s 2025 Strategy Plan

http://wxystudio.com/projects/planning/detroit_eastern_market_2025_strategy_plan

 

E & B Brewery Lofts (Located in the Eastern Market District inside the old Eckhardt & Becker Brewery which brewed beer here 1891-1969) 

http://e-bbrewerylofts.com/

 

Eastern Market (c. 1930’s) photo courtesy of Wayne State University

Eastern Market (c. 1930’s) photo courtesy of Wayne State University

Exclusive PHOTOS: Brut IPA, the Official Beer of Detroit Bookfest being co-brewed in Detroit by Downey Brewing Company and Eastern Market Brewing Company!

Exclusive PHOTOS: Brut IPA, the Official Beer of Detroit Bookfest being co-brewed in Detroit by Downey Brewing Company and Eastern Market Brewing Company!

Jesse Ho-on & Devin Drowley

 

Detroit Festival of Books (aka: Detroit Bookfest)

https://www.facebook.com/events/489759531358545/

 

Official Detroit Bookfest Afterparty @ EMBC

https://www.facebook.com/events/2019975491658433/

 

John Downey, Jesse Ho-on, Dan Downey

This is where the magic happens.

I’m here in Detroit’s Eastern Market District at Eastern Market Brewing Company with our Bookfest beer vendors, Downey Brewing Company and EMBC brew crews.

Present are Downey brothers Dan & John and EMBC brewers Jesse Ho-On and Alex Sebastian.

In addition to the several great beers they’re bringing to Bookfest, the Downey-EMBC team is co-brewing a special, exclusive beer for Detroit Bookfest called Et Tu Brute, which is a Brut IPA, a dry champagne-like beer.

Et Tu, Brute?” is the line “Even you, Brutus?” from Shakespeare’s 1599 play, ‘Julius Caesar’.

Brut IPA is a new beer style which started in San Francisco a few months ago. Nicknamed “Hop Champagne,” the Brut IPA has a ‘pale color, light body, highly carbonated, champagne taste.’

Jesse Ho-on, head brewer @ Eastern Market Brewing Company in Detroit

Jesse Ho-On, the head brewer at Eastern Market Brewing Company, says “We’re using Galaxy hops and an enzyme that will dry it out even more, for a nice dry, champagne-like taste. It’s really interesting!”

In between being a hanger-on’er and vulture observing the brewing process, I’m drinking a delicious Detroit Black IPA (6.5%) and a nifty Blueberry Hefeweizen, where the beer color itself is blue.

EMBC Blueberry Hefeweizen,

Jesse tells me his path to EMBC, “I’m from Chicago, then started brewing in Traverse City at Right Brain, then Terra Firma, then did some baking at 9 Bean Rows Bakery where they have some killer croissants. I moved down to Detroit and was working at Avalon Bakery as a baker, then I transferred here to the Eastern Market Brewery.”

Meanwhile, the Downey Brothers are keenly observing and inquiring.

Downey is a family brewery located in their grandfather’s old warehouse in East Dearborn. Father Dean and sons Dan (marketing) and John (head brewer) crank out some tasty brews.

Dan and John

I’m really excited for Bookfest,” says Dan who is looking at the beer and smiling, “it’s going to be a great day and we’re gonna have some great beers there.”

Jesse, our beer guide for the day, explains more about the Brut IPA, “this dry champagne IPA has an enzyme that’ll drop it lower, but it’s hopped up on the backside with floral tones from the Galaxy Hops and very carbonated. By adding an enzyme, it takes the sweetness out, so it’s dry and tastes like champagne.”

Galaxy Hops from New Zealand

“For this Brut IPA, we’re using Southern Hemisphere hops and wine. The Galaxy Hops are from New Zealand. The wine is in the form of grape must flavors Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Grape must just means crushed grapes.”

John tells us about his path to the beer kettles, “My dad Dean started homebrewing in the 1990’s. I picked it up in college when I worked in a homebrew store. For the most part, I’m self-taught, like most brewers, although several aspiring brewers will typically shadow a Master Brewer as an apprentice until they learn the ropes.”

Alex, the assistant brewer, is carrying massive 55-lb. bags of grain up a ladder and pouring them into the mash tun, which is a large stainless-steel vat. Alex explains, “We got pre-milled grain from Germany and we’re pouring it in here to mix it with hot water in order to pull out the enzymes.”

“It converts the starches into sugars for fermentation,” adds Jesse, who is now holding a clear plastic pitcher and mixing around salts and water with a silver ladle.

Alex Sebastian & Jesse Ho-On

He sees me looking weirdly at it and elaborates, “I’m stirring the calcium chloride and gypsum. Detroit water is ‘soft’, which means it’s low in minerals. Every type of water has its own profile and might need to be treated depending on the beer. Water chemistry is critical.”

Both Downey and EMBC brew about two times per week.

EMBC has a 5-barrel system and Downey has a 3-barrel system. Conversely, John says “MillerCoors in Milwaukee has a 3,000-barrel system. They brew more in one day than we do in five years! In terms of craft breweries, Sierra Nevada has a 300-barrel system, which is a huge system for craft beer.”

We’re all staring intensely at the Brew Home Controls box Jesse just opened. This is a wall-mounted box from Brewmation in Memphis, it’s full of circuitry and gizmos, and includes a touchscreen panel for temperature control, timers, all types of monitoring and adjusting.

Mash temperature and the length of mashing determines the sweetness or bitterness of beer,” says Dan.

After 60-90 minutes in the mash tun, we’ll transfer the wort to the boil kettle,” exclaims Jesse, “That’s where we start to balance it with hops. Hops give beer aroma and Galaxy is ‘high alpha’ which means it has some bitterness. Hops are like the spice of beer, they help balance the sweetness.”

In 3-4 weeks, we’ll have a finished product. There’s 31 gallons in a barrel. We’ll have 4 barrels of finished product, so 124 gallons of Et Tu Brute, the Brut IPA Detroit style.”

Definitely be sure to try this amazing new beer at Detroit Bookfest! Thank you Downey and EMBC for the brew-a-thon.

Cheers! Drink up.

Detroit Festival of Books (aka: Detroit Bookfest)

https://www.facebook.com/events/489759531358545/

 

Official Detroit Bookfest Afterparty @ EMBC

https://www.facebook.com/events/2019975491658433/

 

 

Win a FREE Copy of ‘Brewed in Michigan: The New Golden Age of Brewing in the Great Beer State’!

Win a FREE Copy of ‘Brewed in Michigan: The New Golden Age of Brewing in the Great Beer State’!

Unfortunately there is no prize draw with this ID.

 

*Special thanks to Jamie Jones & the crew at WSU Press for this*

 

 

*3 winners will be selected at random. Enter now for your chance to win!*

The raffle will run from Monday, May 14th to Sunday, May 20th.

 

 

 

Michigan is one of the USA’s great craft beer states.

The Michigan beer industry is enormous, internationally well-known, growing rapidly and generates billions of dollars and creates thousands of jobs annually.

According to the Michigan Brewers Guild, the great State of Michigan has over 260 craft breweries!

Michigan’s Great Lakes water helps make great beer. The State of Michigan is also ranked # 2 nationally in hops production, just behind Oregon.

Brewing started in Michigan around 1829 and started in Detroit in 1831 with the Farmer’s Brewery of Owen & Scott.

About 160 years later, in 1989, Ben Edwards inadvertently kicked off the craft beer revolution in Michigan when he wanted to make his own beer at Detroit’s Traffic Jam & Snug which shortly thereafter became Michigan’s first brewpub.

Bill Rapai (Photo by Jodi Westrick, Michigan Radio)

Local author William “Bill” Rapai, a Grosse Pointe resident and University of Michigan grad, decided to compile an overview of the Michigan craft beer industry by visiting over 100 of Michigan’s craft breweries.

Bill was an award winning reporter & editor for the Detroit Free Press, Boston Globe, Grand Forks Herald, and his journalism talents are evident throughout the book.

Brewed in Michigan: The New Golden Age of Brewing in the Great Beer State‘ was published by Detroit’s own Wayne State University Press and named a Michigan Notable Book in 2018 by the Library of Michigan.

You can also buy the book from WSU Press here:

http://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/brewed-michigan

Founded in 1941, Wayne State University Press publishes a wide variety of great books. They also host an excellent book sale every Noel Night at their warehouse in Detroit.

Bill’s book was published by WSU Press imprint Painted Turtle, which “publishes books on regional topics of cultural and historical interest.”

We are also proud to report that the Detroit Festival of Books will feature two beer vendors this year: East Dearborn’s Downey Brewing Company and Detroit’s Eastern Market Brewing Company! Come check it out!

 

 

WSU Press Homepage

http://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/

 

WSU Press Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/wsupress/

 

WSU Press Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/wsupress/

 

WSU Press Twitter

https://twitter.com/wsupress?lang=en

 

You can also buy the book from WSU Press here:

http://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/brewed-michigan

 

Michigan Brewers Guild

http://www.mibeer.com/

 

Know Beer (Annette May’s Michigan beer education courses) 

http://knowbeer.org

 

Eastern Michigan University’s Fermentation Science Degree

https://www.emich.edu/chemistry/fermsci/

 

Detroit’s Eastern Market Brewing Company GRAND OPENING! (Friday, October 20th, 2017)

Detroit’s Eastern Market Brewing Company GRAND OPENING! (Friday, October 20th, 2017)

Detroit’s Eastern Market Brewing Company!

We have been eagerly awaiting this exciting grand opening all year long!

We are proud to announce that the Eastern Market Brewing Company will have their Grand Opening kickoff party at 6pm on Friday, October 20th, 2017.

Exclusive Preview: Detroit’s new EASTERN MARKET BREWING COMPANY! An extremely collaborative group of visionaries are injecting new life into Eastern Market by bringing people together through beer!

 

Some highlights include:

  • Amazing building and staff!
  • GREAT BEER, especially their signature favorite Market Day IPA 
  • Elephant Shack foodtruck outside
  • They can actually can beers for you to take home with the Michigan-made Oktober Designs Mk16 Can Seamer!

 

Detroit’s Eastern Market Brewing Company!

Also, be sure to walk down the street and check out the new home of Henry the Hatter (2472 Riopelle, Detroit).

And if you go to the annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival at Eastern Market Shed 5 later this month, definitely make sure you walk down to Eastern Market Brewing Company!

Congrats to the crew at Eastern Market Brewing Company! Come join us for an amazing grand opening!

Friday, October 20th, 2017

6pm

Eastern Market Brewing Company

2515 Riopelle Street

Detroit, MI 48207

Exclusive Preview: Detroit’s new EASTERN MARKET BREWING COMPANY! An extremely collaborative group of visionaries are injecting new life into Eastern Market by bringing people together through beer!

 

EMBC Homepage

http://easternmarket.beer/

 

Contact

team@easternmarket.beer

 

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/easternmarketbrewing/?hl=en

 

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/EasternMarketBrewing/

 

Linkedin

https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/16155341/

 

Twitter

https://twitter.com/embctweets?lang=en

 

Danny Jacobs graphic designer

http://osoco.co/