Former NBA player is opening Fixins soul food restaurant in Detroit’s Harmonie Park

Detroit News

Kevin Johnson is pumped about bringing his soul food restaurant brand Fixins to Paradise Valley, even if that means his new spot will be a 15 minute walk from the Detroit Pistons’ home court.

The former NBA All-Star, who was later the first Black mayor of Sacramento, California, joked about being in such close proximity to his old rivals during a press conference Wednesday announcing the forthcoming arrival of Fixins. The soul food restaurant will open as soon as December in a space formerly occupied by Detroit Seafood Market, 1435 Randolph in Harmonie Park.

“You have my commitment, my wife’s commitment, my team’s commitment that we going to do good and right by you, and our standard is going to be the Detroit standard … we gotta bring it,” he said.

Wednesday’s press conference at the restaurant featured remarks from Mayor Mike Duggan, radio show host Angela Yee, building owner Rainy Hamilton Jr., actor and Senate hopeful Hill Harper — a high school friend of Johnson’s who owns Detroit’s Roasting Plant cafe nearby — and members of the Paradise Valley community, including Zana Smith of longstanding boutique Spectacles.

Johnson said he plans to be one of Spectacles’ best customers.

“Because we try to bring food, and art and books and reading all together and she has some of the coolest items, so thank you and we love you,” he said to Smith.

Johnson joked about not liking landlord Hamilton at first because he wore a Detroit Pistons Bad Boy T-shirt to their first meeting.

“I took exception, y’all can’t blame for that,” Johnson, who played for the Phoenix Suns for most of the 1990s. “He showed me around the community. He knew I wanted to be here … and he owned the building and he said we’re going to do whatever we can to work with the city and your team to make this a reality.”

“This has been a long time coming … we’re just thrilled,” said Hamilton, whose firm has been in Harmonie Park and Paradise Valley for 30 years. He thanked Mayor Duggan and others, including Detroit’s Kevin Johnson, president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. “The Paradise Valley District honors those African American businesses that were displaced when the I-75 freeway was constructed which displaced many Black-owned businesses and homes. Our Detroit leaders … have continued to advance African American initiatives throughout the great city of Detroit like Paradise Valley.”

Fixins has locations in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Tulsa and another coming to Denver. The bar and restaurant serves soul food inspired by Johnson’s grandmother’s southern recipes like fried chicken, shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, hot chicken sandwiches and items you don’t see on many menus like deep-fried deviled eggs, collard greens with turkey necks, charred okra and oxtails in sweet brown gravy.

Johnson, who owns Fixins with his wife Michelle, said the brand’s name reflects the focus they put in their “fixings,” or sides, like the baked macaroni and cheese, candied yams, potato salad, coleslaw, red beans and rice and black-eyed peas.

More: Tiliani opens in Dearborn with fine-dining, halal Italian, plus 19 other July debuts

More: More time sought for Paradise Valley plan in Harmonie Park

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens

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