Hospitality Included brings diversity-focused food fest to Detroit

For the second consecutive year, Hospitality Included is bringing a food festival to Detroit to quell a case of the summer scaries — that period of time when you realize the season will soon come to a close and outdoor parties, backyard barbecues and beach days are things of the past.

“After 4th of July, summer starts to feel like it’s winding down,” says Thor Jones, founder of the organization aiming to diversify Detroit’s hospitality industry.

On July 10, though, the Hospitality Included Fest aims to keep the summer festivities going.

The mission of the second annual Hospitality Included Fest is threefold: First, it’s to bring a food festival to Detroit proper. Metro Detroit cities, such as Ferndale and Royal Oak, are home to annual festivals that draw large crowds. This, Jones says, is an opportunity to present a festival that is for the city, in the city.

Secondly, the Hospitality Included Fest is designed to create an environment where diners of color have the opportunity to sample dishes from some of the city’s most lauded restaurants.

“There’s a lack of diversity in the restaurant scene in Detroit. So, the goal is to connect these restaurants with the community that surrounds them,” Jones says.

Related: Detroit’s new restaurants lack diversity among patrons — and that’s a problem

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The Fest also strives to recognize small pop-ups as deserving of the same shine otherwise reserved for brick-and-mortar establishments. In addition to restaurants such as Oak and Reel, SheWolf and Takoi, Hospitality Included Fest will amplify pop-ups like Black-owned taqueria Shell Shock’d Tacos and Konjo Me, an eatery offering clean Habesha dishes.

“Putting places like Shell Shock’d in the same space as Takoi and SheWolf was intentional because I believe that they deserve to be in the same conversation,” Jones said. “I hope this helps all of the pop-ups in their own way because they deserve to be known.”

Hospitality Included Fest will be held at Chroma, a new indoor/outdoor co-working and event venue in Detroit’s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood, which Jones appreciates for its efforts in developing a welcoming environment.

“They’re attempting to create a space of inclusion and I think they’re doing a pretty good job of it — and it’s a beautiful space,” he said.

Jones anticipates the crowd of attendees that will double or nearly triple last year’s turnout of 200 attendees. Detroiters, food enthusiasts and hospitality industry workers are encouraged to attend, but ultimately, all are more than welcome.

“It’s for everybody,” Jones says. “I want to see a lot of the city out and I expect to see a lot of the hospitality industry there, but I also would love to see people from outside of Detroit come and see how the city parties. I think the crowd will be authentically Detroit, so everybody can get a taste of what that is.”

Hospitality Included Fest at Chroma, 2937 E. Grand Blvd., Detroit. chromedetroit.city

Jul 10, 2pm-9pm

Contact Lyndsay C. Green at LCGreen@freepress.com

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