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Simmer Down at Slows: Bar BQ and chill


The history of Slows, a barbecue restaurant chain launched in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood, is a tasty one, but also a story with a huge community engagement piece built in right at the start.

It was while on a 2011 Rapid Growth bus trip to Detroit to observe and connect with area entrepreneurs  and change-agents that we learned from Phil Cooley, co-owner of Slows Bar BQ (and founder of Ponyride, a Detroit-based nonprofit that supports artists and entrepreneurs), that we would learn that the making a successful restaurant takes a lot more than just a good sandwich. 

What stood out from our visit to Detroit was how when Cooley was sweating away in this once boarded-up, old storefront while remodeling the interior of this restaurant, neighborhood residents would press their faces to the glass to observe. 

On a street with little to no economic activity happening on the strip,  many thought he was crazy to open this venue up in a place on the edge of everything. In fact, as folks inquired, he would ask them if they wanted to help. 

And this is where I believe the secret to Slows success was something more than what was in the sauce: locals showed up to assist this young dreamer to help make Slows happen in their neighborhood. 

And the rest is a delicious history. 

At the Grand Rapids location of our Slows located in the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, an evolution of the state’s best BBQ is emerging in this space that is located (once again) on the fringe of a neighborhood. 

Not only has Slows recently added sit-down service alongside its marketplace style of eating (for those in a hurry), they will on this Thursday night welcome one of the area’s favorite deejays, Jeff Finan, to spin a nice two hour set of some of the most dope reggae tracks as guests enjoy a special night devoted to rum drinks and hickory spiced Jamaican jerk chicken wings.

Finan is a member of Grand Rapids’ Vinyl Fetish and is known for his ability to take an obscure tune and give it new life under his touch. Don’t believe me? Then just ask anyone who caught his set last weekend at Billy’s, where, among the many tunes he spun, he dropped a rare Grace Jones remix of Grace Jones’ “Pull Up to the Bumper” that he recently discovered in the record bins at Vertigo on Division Avenue.

This is sure to be a festive and fun night with plenty of impromptu moments of dance from our local (and growing) dance music community.

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