- Getting Here
- Eating Here
- Staying Here
- Hanging out here
The Jam Handy (2900 E Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202) is our home for Midwest Gathering. The Jam Handy has lived many lives but it’s best know as a movie studio. Over 25,000 instructional films were created here. Plus it’s just fun to say. Go ahead. Try it. Jam handy. That was fun, wasn’t it?
The Jam Handy is an older building, and while it does have heat, it’s not a bad idea to do as every Midwesterner has learned to do and bring a sweater or a light jacket. Or, if you’re particularly sensitive to the cold, a parka and a sleeping bag.
Arriving by air: Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) is located about 20 miles outside of the city. Detroit doesn’t have a bustling taxi industry, so if you’re not renting a car it’d be best to make sure you have Lyft or Uber downloaded onto your phone before you land. A fare to the city will cost you about $30 and you can always try and find someone to split it with in our facebook group.
Arriving by rail: If you’ve got a fear of flying, you can always come in by train. Detroit Amtrak Station (DET) is located less than a mile from the venue at 11 W Baltimore Ave, Detroit, MI 48202
Arriving by car: If you want to drive yourself in (this is the motor city after all), there will be plenty of free parking at the venue.
Getting around the city: The Q-line runs along the main artery of Detroit, Woodward Avenue, from Downtown right to our home in New Center. For $3 you can ride all day, and it’s super easy to navigate because it is literally a straight line from New Center to Downtown. Detroit is the Motor City so many people opt for getting from spot to spot in the city by car. Lyft and Uber drivers are plentiful so load those apps before you make your way here and you’ll be navigating our fair Detroit in no time.
Detroit is truly the Wild West of the culinary world. After the city declared bankruptcy (largest municipal bankruptcy in US history, but we don’t want to brag), chefs from all over the country flocked to the city to plant their flag in their own corner of the dirt cheap real estate market and set up shop. Here are some of our favorites by neighborhood, with bonus sections for true Detroit classics, vegan/vegetarian folks, and those with gluten blues.
New Center/North End – Right in our backyard, AKA shit you can walk to.
• Avalon Cafe and Biscuit Bar – Exactly what it sounds like. They serve biscuits. They’re good. Get one for breakfast. 2998 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202
• Atomic Chicken– Fried Chicken including chicken and waffles for anyone who likes a little breakfast with their lunch. 6500 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202
• Stella Good Coffee– Fancy a coffee and a stroll through the most beautiful building in Detroit? Then this place is for you. Located inside the fisher building. 3011 W Grand Blvd #110A, Detroit, MI 48202
Midtown– The next neighborhood over. Hop on the Q-Line and hit these places up.
• Selden Standard – Small plates. Great for groups of people who aren’t going to be weird about splitting the bill evenly at the end of the meal. 3921 Second Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201
• Chartreuse– Good for lunch and dinner and anyone who loves the color green. 15 E Kirby St D, Detroit, MI 48202
• Urban Ramen– Warm your bones with a bowl of broth. Vegan broth available. 4206 Woodward ave, Detroit, MI, 48201
Downtown– Because you’re worth it.
• The Apparatus Room– Located in the new Detroit Foundation Hotel. You’ll feel cooler just walking in here. 250 W Larned St, Detroit, MI 48226
• Vicente’s Detroit– Because Heather likes Cuban food and Heather is writing this list. 1250 Library St, Detroit, MI 48226
• Wright & Company – Small plates. Sharing is caring. You can tell it’s cool because there’s an ampersand in the name. 1500 Woodward Ave floor 2, Detroit, MI 48226
Eastern Market– A bit further away but well worth the Uber fare.
• Gather– It’s amazing and it’s owned by the best people. Just eat here, okay? 1454 Gratiot Ave, Detroit, MI 48207
• Russel Street Deli– A classic since 1989. A deli with vegan and vegetarian friendly options if you can believe it. 2465 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207
• Supino’s Pizzeria – Pizza goodness right on the corner. 2457 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207
Corktown– Where that big train station from the Transformers movie is.
• Gold Cash Gold – In an old pawn shop. Pickle juice brined fried chicken. Fuck yes. 2100 Michigan Avenue Detroit, Michigan 48216
• Astro Coffee – It’s coffee. You drink it and you feel more awake. 2124 Michigan Avenue Detroit, MI 48216
• Folk – Breakfast and Lunch. Vegan and Gluten free options for you to stick in your face hole. 1701 Trumbull Ave suite b, Detroit, MI 48216
Detroit Classics – because they were here first.
• Battle of the Coney Dogs: Lafayette vs American Coney Island – Look. I don’t even want to enter myself into this blood feud. People in Detroit are loyal to one or the other and as a non-native Michigander, I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing and getting myself kicked out of the state for good (but Lafayette is better). Try them both and make up your own mind. They’re both open way late and I’m heard the taste of the mustard is greatly enhanced by a heightened blood alcohol content. Downtown. 118 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226 and 114 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226
• Bucharest Grill– Shamwarma. I would literally be laughed out of town if I didn’t mention it. New Center. 110 Piquette Ave, Detroit, MI 48202
• Polish Village Cafe – Try the dill pickle soup and tell them Heather sent you. They don’t know me but tell them anyway. Hamtramck. 2990 Yemans St, Hamtramck, MI 48212
• The Whitney – Swanky. Probably haunted. Midtown. 4421 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
• Cliff Bell’s – Jazz + Jazz = Jazz. Downtown. 2030 Park Ave, Detroit, MI 48226
Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten Free– because ya’ll gotta eat too.
• Detroit Vegan Soul – Soul food that’s vegan. Just trust us. The mac and cheese is dope. West Village. 8029 Agnes St, Detroit, MI 48214
• Fresh 101– Plant based. Whole food. Lots of GF stuff. Midtown. 4240 Cass Ave Suite 100, Detroit, MI 48201
• Seva – Born in Ann Arbor. Migrated to Detroit. A staple for non meat eaters. Midtown. 66 E Forest Ave Detroit, MI 48201
• Mootown Ice Cream & Dessert Shoppe – Did you think we were gonna leave you without a place to find vegan icecream? Oh ye, of little faith. Eastern Market. 2461 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207
Detroit has a whole range of places to rest your weary head after a long day of filling your noggin with information, from super affordable Air BnB’s to swanky hotel renovations downtown. We know budgets vary so we’re hoping we can include a little something for every level.
If you’re looking for a fancier stay you can book one of the newer downtown spots. The Siren Hotel just opened earlier this year in the heart of the city. Fans of the color pink can sip cocktails all night in their lounge, The Candy Bar. It’ll take you about 10 minutes by car or 30 minutes by Q-Line (Grand Circus Station to Grand Blvd Station) to find yourself at the Jam Handy. Rooms from $224.
The Detroit Foundation Hotel opened in 2017 and was the former home of the Detroit Fire Department’s Headquarters. It’ll take you about 15 minutes by car or 35 minutes by Q-Line (Congress Station to Grand Blvd Station) to find yourself at the Jam Handy. Rooms from $322.
HOT TIP: If you’re one of those people who isn’t too nervous about waiting around until the last minute, you can sometimes really snag a deal on one of these spots. I’ve seen them both go for more than $100 off when booked about a week out. Take a walk on the wild side.
You’re Kinda Fancy
Trumbull and Porter has all the trappings of a hip boutique hotel without the high prices you’ll find downtown. Located in Corktown, you’ll be steps away from one of the hippest neighborhoods the city has to offer. It’ll take you about 10 minutes by car to find yourself at the Jam Handy. Rooms start at $169.
We can’t tell you that the Hotel St. Regis is the hippest place to stay, because it’s not, but it is damn close to the Jam Handy and for some of you we know convenience matters more than anything. It’s a whopping .5 miles from the Jam Handy, a perfectly reasonable morning walk if you ask me. Rooms start at $150.
Probably some of the most affordable options for the more budget minded folks in Detroit is good ol’ AirBnB. Look for something in the North End or New Center neighborhood if you want to be close to all the conference action. The Jam Handy is also just blocks away from the jewel of Detroit’s Public Transit, the Q-line. The Q-line runs right along the main artery of Detroit, Woodward Avenue, from Downtown right to our home in New Center. For $3 you can ride all day, meaning you can snag a place to stay near Woodward Avenue in Midtown or Downtown and head back for a nap at any time! The Q-Line is literally one straight line that ends at our stop (Grand Blvd), so it’s pretty easy to navigate. If you can ride a moving walkway at the airport, you can figure out the Q-Line.
This part of the city guide is going to be very heavily geared toward the fact that you’re all visual artists in some way shape or form. I’m not gonna tell you about where to get the hippest cocktail or our local bowling alleys. I’m going to tell you about things to see that you can truly only see here. Things that will have you clawing at your camera bag’s zipper to get that bad boy out and take a photo.
Walk through the Heidelberg Project. This is probably my favorite “only in Detroit” piece of our city. It’s a fully immersive outdoor art experience by artist Tyree Guyton. It’s the artistic embodiment of making art unapologetically on one’s own terms. Something that was started on a blighted street without permits or bureaucratic approval has become a jewel in the Detroit art scene. Go in the morning before it gets too busy, and people still live there, so, you know, don’t be an asshole. 3600 Heidelberg St, Detroit, MI 48207
Check out the murals at the Z-Lot. I know it’s kind of weird to suggest you take time out of your busy visit to Detroit to wander around a parking garage, but it’s worth it. It’s home to more than 27 murals by artists from around the world, some as wide as 130 feet. When you’re done dodging cars in the garage, head up to the top level for great views of the city skyline, and then down to the street to walk through the Belt Alleyway and take in a few more murals. 1234 Library St, Detroit, MI 48226
Get your eyes on some green at the Belle Isle Conservatory. Belle Isle park is a jewel in the middle of the Detroit River. Think of it like Central Park, if Central Park was an island in the Midwest. The entire park is beautiful but the conservatory is not to be missed. It was designed by the noted firm of George D. Mason and Albert Kahn who are responsible for some the most beautiful buildings Detroit has to offer. My favorite part is the fern room, or as I like to call it, the dinosaur food room. 900 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207
Do you like Art Deco? The Fisher Building located just down the street from our venue is not to be missed. My favorite part is the ceiling dedicated to hoards of red-haired angels and the green marble walls (you heard me right, there are green marble walls). When you’re done wandering the ground floor head up to the mezzanine level to get a better look at the ceiling and the lights. Ugh, it’s just so great. While you’re there visit our friend Lisa Waud at Pot & Box. Ugh, she’s just so great. 3011 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202
Want more Art Deco? Do you find yourself downtown with some time to spare? Head on over to the Guardian Building. It’s big, it’s beautiful, and if you need some walking around money, there’s a bank there. 500 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226
Try out some water therapy. Okay, this last one is something you probably shouldn’t bring your camera to unless you’re looking to get arrested, but if you’re feeling a bit tense or the November weather has you chilled to your bones, not far from The Jam Handy you’ll find The Schvitz. This historic bathhouse has lived former lives as a Jewish health club, a hangout for the mafia, and a place where swingers came together (oh my). Now it’s just a nice place for a sauna and a dip. 8295 Oakland Ave, Detroit, MI 48211
Who the hell is running this show?
Oh man. Probably should have said this sooner. We’re Heather Jowett and Meghan Kindsvater, wedding photographers and co-organizers of this thing. Heather is responsible for all the stupid jokes that you’ve read here and putting together the lineup while Meghan makes sure that our speakers get paid on time and does grown up things like opening bank accounts for us. We’re a match made in heaven.
Is it going to be cold?
Well, it’s November in Michigan so certain signs point to yes, but it’s also early November in Michigan and the entire climate of our planet is undergoing catastrophic climate change, so maybe it won’t be too cold. Either way, plan for some chilly weather. Listen to your grandmother and don’t forget to bring a sweater.
My dad says I’m going to get shot if I come to Detroit. Is that true?
First of all, your dad sounds like a real peach. No, it is not true. Detroit is like every other major US city. There is some crime here. Detroit is also like every other major US city in that, if you have a fair amount of common sense, you’ll be able to keep yourself safe. The neighborhood we’ll be in for the conference is certainly safe but city rules apply. Use the buddy system late at night. Don’t leave your valuables anywhere visible in your car. Basically, have some common sense and keep your wits about you and you’re gonna be fine.
What should I bring with me?
An open heart… just kidding. I mean, bring that if you’ve got one, sounds cool. We can pass it around and pretend we’re in anatomy class. It’s probably a good idea to bring something to write notes in. If you’re a laptop sort of note taking person, we just ask that you sit near the back so the glare of your screen doesn’t harsh the vibe for everyone in the pen and paper crowd. Even if you’re not doing a live shoot, bring your camera because you never know when you might be inspired (says the girl who never takes out her camera at these things).
I’m an introvert and I don’t know anyone and I’m afraid.
Well, this is less of a question and more of a concern but let’s talk. Hi, I’m Heather Jowett and I’m an extrovert and I like people. If you are afraid you’ll have no one to talk to at this thing, come talk to me. One of my many skills is connecting people to other people who I know will get along, so I’ll help find you a buddy, or I’ll be your buddy. I like having more buddies.
I’m an extrovert and I just want to party and dance.
Once again, not really following the question format but okay. Don’t worry, there will be time for dancing. OH THE GLORIOUS DANCING WE SHALL DO.
What’s the schedule?
Look, I’m working on it. Okay?! Get off my back. I’ve got a lot going on right now and you don’t understand the amount of pressure I’m under and I just need you all to be patient with me? Got it???!!!
No but seriously, it’s coming. I promise I won’t make you all wake up super early for this thing (because I really really hate waking up super early) and I promise I will make sure there’s enough time for lunch (because I really really love lunch).