Friday, February 6, 2009

Bittersweet Goodbyes: Sweet Georgia Brown Evicted

Sweet Georgia Brown had become something of a Detroit dining mainstay in the six years it has been open. It hasn't been without its share of difficult times--several years ago they closed for business for a few months and reopened under new management and ownership--but it would seem that week was the final sweet potato straw. On Wednesday work crews hired by Greektown Casino, which owns the building in which Sweet Georgia Brown was located, evicted the restaurant, tossing all furniture etc. in the nearby dumpsters...much to the surprise of people who tried showing up for work that day. Apparently Greektown had not received rent payments from SGB's owners for months, and the struggling casino responded by shutting the business down.

Owner and former NBA star Derrick Coleman had only this to say to press: "I am most concerned about my valued employees that have been with me from the beginning. I want to assist them in any way possible as my employees depend on me. With the economy, fine dining dollars are just not there -- especially in the City of Detroit. Businesses open and close every day, and it was news to me that Sweet Georgia Brown's would be evicted this morning. The workers are my main concern."

Though it's been some time since my last trip to SGB, I remember finding it a charming and contemporary take on good old-fashioned southern food--think Deep South with a French twist. It was a stylish space and a downtown favorite, and though it will likely not be the last casualty of these tough economic times (dare I say this glut of new restaurants is more than the average 95% likely to suffer the same fate...and that 95% is during good times), I am still particularly sorry to see this one go.

Best of luck to Coleman and crew in future ventures. Word to the wise (as evidenced by innumerable restaurant/bar/club closings over the past few years): ALL businesses must (a) pay their taxes, and (b) pay their rent/make nice with their landlords. Too many businesses have shut down for not following these basic (and simply common sense) rules. Let that be a lesson learned to can hope.