Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles represents a lot of things for Ron Bartell. The restaurant opens today at 8 a.m. with an ambitious owner looking to make an immediate impact on the Livernois commercial corridor and its surrounding neighborhoods.
Bartell played the cornerback position in the NFL for nine years, mostly for the St. Louis Rams but also the Lions and the Oakland Raiders. And while he's since retired from the league, Bartell is just 32. As he says, he's just getting started. Bartell owns and operates a group home in San Antonio, Texas, a subcontracting service for FedEx, also in San Antonio, and R & J Development, his Michigan-based property investment company.
In 2012, R & J purchased four commercial properties on the west side of Livernois Avenue, north of Seven Mile Road, the heart of what's known as the Avenue of Fashion. Bartell knows Detroit's northwest side well. He grew up near Greenfield Road and Outer Drive and graduated from Detroit Renaissance High School in 2000.
Bartell first acquired the buildings along Livernois for development purposes. Soon, though, Bartell decided that he wasn't content with sitting back and collecting rent. He wanted, as he says, to put his money where his mouth was and help develop a commercial corridor that could use a push.
There are a lot of things Bartell wants to accomplish with the opening of Kuzzo's. In addition to creating what he hopes will be a successful restaurant, Bartell wants to show that Detroit is still a place where African American entrepreneurs can thrive. He's hoping, too, that his attention to detail, design, and quality of product and experience will inspire other businesses to up their game. The food is fresh and prepared in-house, and the design of the space is clean and contemporary. If you expect people to spend their hard-earned dollars at your business, he says, than you better make it worth their while.
"Hopefully we're successful and it shows people that they can be successful over here, too. Hopefully it's a spark that brings other businesses around here, whether it's other diners, restaurants, lounges. This area needs so many different things yet can support so many different things," says Bartell. "I hope this really shows that in order to be successful you don't have to go downtown or Midtown; you can actually stay in the neighborhood and do good business and hire people and service the community."
Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles specializes in breakfast foods along with lunch and dinner options that include sandwiches, burgers, and entrees. Southern-inspired craft cocktails are in the works.
The restaurant opens today at 8 a.m. and will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. A grand opening will be held in a couple of weeks, when hours of service will extend to 9 and 10 p.m.
Kuzzo's is located at 19345 Livernois Ave.
Source: Ron Bartell, owner of Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles
Writer: MJ Galbraith
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