Charles Sorel was born in Martinique and raised in Paris. He owned two successful cafes in Brooklyn before moving to Brazil for five years post-9/11. Now he's landed in Detroit, his wife's hometown, with his family.
Lucky for us, he has opened Le Petit Zinc
, a creperie and cafe in Corktown on Trumbull at Howard. Brightly colored and cozy, the spot serves breakfast pastries, salads, crepes, sandwiches and classics like ratatouille, all priced reasonably. And of course, a wonderful cup of coffee to accompany.
The name for the cafe comes from a term for a neighborhood pub in France where wear and tear on the zinc-colored bartops add character to the space. As Sorel explains on his menu, "Each patron literally leaves their mark."
Sorel has applied for a grant from Wayne County in the hopes of obtaining his wine and beer license. He estimates the cost for the license, counting legal fees, to be about $30,000 -- while in New York City, he paid about $1,000. "Everything is more expensive in Michigan, to open a business," he says.
He credits Philip Cooley of Slow's Bar BQ with helping him navigate the permit process, and says that the neighborhood in general has already been very welcoming.
Sorel hopes to open a second cafe in the city in about a year if this one takes off. He sees vacant storefronts as opportunities: "Detroit reminds me of Brooklyn 10 years ago, before gentrification," he says.
Le Petit Zinc is at 1055 Trumbull. Call 313-962-2805. Hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sorel hopes to expand those hours in the spring to take better advantage of the restaurant's garden patio.
Source: Charles Sorel, Le Petit Zinc
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh