This story is part of WDET’s Crossing the Lines: Live6 series, exploring the neighborhoods around the intersection of Six Mile Road and Livernois Avenue. See more Crossing the Lines coverage »
It’s a sunny Thursday afternoon and cars are zipping past the corner of Wyoming and Curtis Ave, where there is a new halal organic gourmet café called Supreme Café.
Jamaal Muhammad, 27-year-old who moved to Detroit five years ago, opened Supreme Café in January with the help of Motor City Match funds.
“Everything we make [is] from scratch. All meats are 100% halal meat,” Muhammad says. Halal means preparing the meat according to Islamic dietary laws and not serving pork.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Muhammad realized there weren’t a lot of healthy eating options within Detroit’s city limits and wanted to do something to change that.
“I wanted to have something in a small neighborhood where people can actually have something that’s actually good quality food,” explains Muhammad, who became more health conscious during the pandemic.
Supreme Café’s small dining room features a mural of Martin Luther King Jr., President Barack Obama, and members of the Nation of Islam — as well as local figures like Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield. Muhammad hopes the images of these influential figures inspire his customers.
“The idea of it is not to just look at the great people that’s on the wall, but to be able to know that you’re a great person yourself and you just have to reach into your growth [and] your potential and bring that out of you because everybody is a star in their own right,” he says.
Faith is a big part of who Muhammad is and is a member of the Nation of Islam, which inspired him to provide a community-based restaurant. During the pandemic, Muhammad provided 500 free meals to Detroiters who were elderly or unhoused.
“We can’t talk about making our communities a decent, safe place to live in, being able to say what somebody should be doing, but…not actively doing things,” he says.
“I just wanted to support some Black business. I want to encourage that.” – Jordan Bailey, Supreme Café customer
At the restaurant, Kamilah Muhammad is frying salmon by adding a scoop of oil onto the griddle and chopping the fish with two spatulas. She says customers enjoy ordering egg rolls, salmon burgers and fried fish sandwiches.
Jordan Bailey is a Detroit firefighter. He ordered the supreme salmon burger.
“I just wanted to support some Black business and seeing these guys, you know, I want to encourage that,” Bailey says. “You’re in an affluent Black community. And then a lot of our dollars do go to the suburbs right down the street. It’s a really good spot to get into.”
Muhammad admits it’s not easy running a new business but welcomes the challenge.
“Some days you do not feel like giving up but you have to continue to push forward. Keep on going,” Muhammad says.
For Muhammad, opening Supreme Café is his way of seeing the change he wants to make in the community.