Special Issues » The People Issue

The House Music Maven: Troy Ramroop

Owner, Grasshopper Underground

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When asked what he studied in college, Troy Ramroop doesn't give the answer you might expect given his current job. The owner of Grasshopper Underground, Ferndale's beloved house music venue, didn't major in business or finance. And when he was younger, he didn't dream of running a nightclub. And since then, like many of us, he's had a long list of short-lived ambitions.

"I started off at Michigan State and then I finished up at Oakland University. I got a bachelor's in biology," he says. "I was going to become a doctor and go to med school. I decided right after that I wanted to be a pilot so I went back and started that, and I got my private pilot's license. And then I decided that wasn't going to work for me."

All the while, Ramroop was bartending, paying off his various tuitions.

"As soon as I graduated high school, I started bartending. It always was the commonality. And then I started thinking and entertaining the idea of owning my own small bar," he says.

So Ramroop put together a proposal and started hunting for investors. Before long, he owned Grasshopper Underground. Five years later, the venue is one of Detroit's most well-respected spots for house music.

"Basically, what it comes down to is staying true to what we started," says Ramroop.

And that's just part of the secret to his success.

"It's very important to me to say thank you to everyone who comes out to Grasshopper because, as I said, it's a small venue," he says. "And the only way we're going to survive and the only way we can continue to do what we do is by people loving the venue. We treat [the DJs] like family. I go to the airport and pick them up myself sometimes. And I make sure that we all have dinner together as a group."

For Ramroop, "family" is a buzzword.

"I guess it's every father's dream to make it easier for your kids today. My family is my big drive," he says. "I just try every day to do something to improve my life, my family life, and also leave my mark."

Soon Ramroop's mark will include more than just house music and a basement venue in Ferndale.

"I'm working on a restaurant in Corktown. It should launch in five months," he says. "We are going to make it focus on that chef's dream, whoever we choose. Passion is very important in this industry. I'd like to find someone who is young, eager, and passionate about his or her own identity. We're going to embrace that and see what happens."

The restaurant, the club, the family, it's all part of a master plan.

"Someday when I pass away," Ramroop says, "and someone is reading my obituary, I want them to say, 'There is no way that guy did all those things.'"

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