Photography by Tom McKenzie

With hopes of reviving his struggling hometown, Detroit restaurateur MAURICE WIGGINS is cooking up a tasty plan.


Detroit has been getting a lot of attention, but it certainly hasn’t been for the vibrancy of its downtown. Amid the largest municipal bankruptcy in United States history, restaurateur Maurice Wiggins, 36, is trying to revitalize the Motor City’s ­Woodward Avenue with the opening of The ­Addison Eatery, situated in the historic Addison Building in ­Detroit’s Brush Park District. ­Wiggins has a vision for the city, and it starts with eggs Benedict and bananas Foster waffles.

The restaurant, which is set for a soft opening next month, is Wiggins’ response to the naysayers who claim Detroit lacks dining draws. “We have been talked about and picked on nationally,” ­Wiggins says, “but we haven’t given up. We were built to last the toughest of times and storms.” Wiggins chatted with American Way about his new endeavor and his vision for his hometown.

AMERICAN WAY: What was Detroit like when you were growing up?
Maurice Wiggins: As a kid, I can remember my mom taking my brother and me shopping downtown for suits. It was such a joy to look at all of the tall buildings and to see Canada across the river. I went to Martin Luther King High School in Detroit and then Northwood University in Midland, Mich. There, I played football, won a GLIAC [Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference] championship and then had a tryout with the Detroit Lions. Now, that feeling I had as a kid that made me want to be a part of Detroit is back and stronger than ever. I’m so thankful to play a part in the city’s transition.

AW: How did you get involved with restaurants?
MW: My family has been in the restaurant business for a long time. My grandfather, the late Bishop Kenneth Hoke, pastored in Clinton Township, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, and then in the city itself. At the time, the church’s banquet facility was one of the largest around, so as part of the family, I did everything — serving, cooking, cleaning, hosting … you name it. Also, my uncle Kevin Hoke used to run a Waffle House in Atlanta, and another of my uncles, Stan, and my father, Mack, owned restaurants in Flint, Mich., north of Detroit. So you could say restaurants are in my blood.

AW: What was your vision for The Addison Eatery?

To learn more about Detroit’s Woodward Avenue, visit
www.woodwardavenue.org

MW: I wanted it to be a destination spot for great service and great food at an affordable price. We open at 7 for breakfast with dishes like eggs Benedict, salmon croquettes and bananas Foster waffles. For lunch, it’s Maurice Salad, Michigan dried-cherry salad, funnel-cake fries and homemade soups like split pea. We will open for dinner Thursday through Sunday with honey-glazed pork chops with sweet potato soufflé and asparagus. It’s American cuisine with a touch of soul. We want to help reshape the downtown Detroit restaurant scene one dish at a time.

AW: What have you learned from operating two other restaurants in Detroit?
MW:
My first restaurant was AH! Moore International Cafe inside Ford Field [home of the Lions], and the second was the Hudson Cafe located in downtown Detroit. What I’ve learned is that “no” stands for “new opportunity.” I’ve also learned to keep dreaming, because dreams do come true.

AW: Woodward has been Detroit’s main thoroughfare since a fire leveled the city in 1805. How does your restaurant play a part in the street’s evolution?
MW:
As times change, we have seen Woodward turn into a street of vacant property where employees and business owners just use the street to get into downtown or back out to the suburbs. Now you have people anticipating our restaurant and other businesses opening on Woodward. We are just glad that we will be right in the middle of this wonderful transformation. The restaurant plays a major role in bringing back the vibrant businesses that were once on Woodward.



The Addison Eatery is located at 3111 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.