Detroit Restaurant Association reorganizes 50 years after riots

More than 2,500 businesses were looted or destroyed in the Detroit riots, many of them were restaurants. With customers slow to return to the ones left standing, they've lacked a voice, even 50 years after the riots.

Half of a century has passed since Detroit burned and the city's restaurateurs are ready to organize again to advocate for themselves and spur growth by reforming the Detroit Restaurant Association.

There are about 1,000 restaurants opening within the City of Detroit - the most since the riots of 1967 - and the owners have been lacking a voice in the city.

All businesses are reliant on customer success and in the days following the uprising, customers just weren't walking through the doors.

"When we don't have businesses and establishments it's hard for an association to be effective or even present," said Herasanna Richards, Detroit Restaurant Association Director.

So, in the days after the riots, the Detroit Restaurant Association was no more. That changes now.

In March, the groundwork was laid to give the collective business owners running restaurants a voice when it comes to local ordinances, laws and access to a trained workforce.

"We are the extended arms. We are the ones building relationships with the city council. The mayor's office and community departments and we take the concerns that our restaurateurs are experiencing and communicate them so they don't have to spend extra time away from their establishment," Richards said.

The DRA has been back in action since March and has about 120 members - including longtime Cass Corridor restaurant Traffic Jam and Snug

"We actually have sit around the table and discuss the challenges of being a restaurant owner in the city," the owner, Scott Lowell, said.

He said he feels the strength in numbers and the more members who join the DRA, the louder their voices will be.

Membership starts at $315 a year and goes up from there relative to your sales.

"Restaurants are a huge part of Detroit's economy and we want to ensure they are going to successful as we move forward in the revitalization."

On Sunday, exactly 50 years since the Detroit riots, FOX 2 will present a 30-minute special as we look back at the summer of '67.