Photo by Serena Maria Daniels
We met chef Adam Verville last spring, when he launched the Hawaiian-themed GoGo inside the space that Bucharest used to occupy inside Park Bar.
He was hoping to introduce diners nearby the Comerica-adjacent spot to fare inspired by the popular street food from the islands, such as the handheld musubi, loco moco, and Holo Dogs (complete with optional Spam chili).
After just eight months, Verville is stepping away from GoGo's, saying he felt like the menu hadn't really reached the goals he was hoping for.
"It's just tough, there was low volume, and it's a very competitive market," Verville tells us.
We asked Park Bar owner Jerry Belanger if Verville's departure marks a setback for the Hawaiian concept. He says he's happy with its direction, and in fact, plans to dive even deeper into Hawaiian culture
In the next few months, Belanger tells us the GoGo's crew plans to roll out new items like the sweet fried doughnut-like treat malasada (derived from the islands' Portuguese population), chicken long rice, and a dish that incorporates traditional Hawaiian poi.
Verville's split could otherwise be looked at as run-of-the-mill, if not for context.
The chef told us he's considering whether he even wants to remain in the restaurant industry.
"The Detroit dining industry has changed to the point where if you are a chef, the only way to sustain is to be a partner in a business or to go into business for yourself, like with a pop-up," Verville tells us. "With that, you have to be your own publicist. Is that something I really want to do? No. I like to work with my hands."
Verville says while he groups he plans to do some behind-the-scenes work in kitchens and is looking forward to spring to test out a new brick pizza oven built for community gatherings in his eastside neighborhood.
What makes his exit interesting is, for one, the very idea of a Hawaiian menu in Detroit had observers skeptical from the start, pointing to the city's resistance to embracing the unfamiliar.
Two, there's a general sense of angst about the viability of longtime businesses in the area, which sits mere blocks from the upcoming Little Caesar's Arena. The stadium is supposed to open later this year, and with that, a slew of auxiliary bars and restaurants are sure to follow.
So, is Verville's departure just common sense before longtime spots like Park Bar are swallowed up by the Pizza Pizza fortress? It's a conversation that veteran bar and restaurant owners are having these days and one we'll be paying attention to in the months to come.
In the meantime, you can check out GoGo's inside Park Bar, at 2040 Park Ave.
See more: GoGo's Hawaiian eatery launches in former Bucharest spot