Detroit’s first African American fine dining restaurateur searches for new location for reopening.
Omar Mitchell opened Table No. 2 in April 2019, a fine dining restaurant in downtown Detroit known for its throwback table side service. Timing is everything, however, and just a week later, the City began working on the Livernois streetscape project.
When he first opened the restaurant’s doors, Mitchell said of the experience, “Caesar salads made at the table, banana foster flambé right in front of the guest, carved tomahawk steaks sliced at the table.” Yet, the City’s project would take the remainder of the year and eventually wrap in February 2020. It instantly dropped Mitchell’s customer base by an estimated 70%.
Business picked up again when the project completed on Valentine’s Day, but it was short-lived. The coronavirus hit and Mitchell was forced to close his dining area. He began to offer half-off discounts and carryout service just to keep his business afloat. He even began delivering orders himself — sometimes as far away as Clinton Township.
This month, Mitchell was set to reopen his space to diners, but was hit with another below. The building’s landlord was selling and Table No. 2 would need to relocate. So, Mitchell was forced to close altogether on Mother’s Day.
“We were supposed to sign a five-year deal on Easter,” Mitchell said. This would be after a one-year ‘test’ period. Instead, everything was removed from the space by the end of May.
“I’ve been looking for bigger locations,” Mitchell said of his current focus. “I’ve obviously outgrown that location. I’m looking for a bigger location especially with this whole six-foot separation mandate. I needed bigger anyway. My place seated 70, so with 35 people I wouldn’t have been able to make it anyway.” He referred to Michigan’s social distancing mandate which has allowed restaurants to reopen this month with customers seated at least six feet apart, reducing capacity by as much as 50-percent.
“Now I have to figure out where I’m going to get all my funding from to up and move and open up a new restaurant,” Mitchell said. “A larger restaurant that’s within the six feet separation rules on top of all the other shit I’m going through…It hurts, man.” He added he wasn’t going to give up.
“I have a great deal of love and passion and dedication to what I do,” Mitchell said. “And because I had such a great experience at Table No. 2 on the Avenue of Fashion, I know that it works. So it’s not a guessing game for me at this point. I know it works because I experienced it. And it worked so good, it worked even during construction. So imagine it in a better location, without the roadblocks, the liquor license in place — all the other things that need to be successful.”
He added, “It works and the other component is, from an African American standpoint, I’m still the only formal fine dining white tablecloth restaurant in Detroit and Michigan that’s black-owned. I have to continue this. There’s history there. There’s young chefs that want to be in this restaurant game that I’m obligated to that I have to educate. There’s folks that I want to continue to give them this remarkable dining experience. I can’t give up on this. I have to continue this, because we have a very loyal and dedicated fanbase. I have to make sure that I open up, because they’re looking forward to it.”
A GoFundMe page titled ‘Table No. 2 New Beginnings” has been set up with the goal of fundraising $30,000 to help establish a new location, and Mitchell is already more than halfway there.