There are many independent chefs and food purveyors operating in unusual ways in Detroit, selling ribs and wings directly from roadside barbecue pits or chips and pop from their front lawns. The Free Press (paywalled) this week highlights a Detroit grandmother, known to neighbors as "Miss Doris," who sells $5 home-cooked meals from a little pink food trailer in front of her west-side home.
She's at 11365 Steel St., near Meyers and Plymouth Roads.
There aren’t many grocery stores in her part of the city, even fewer restaurants. And there’s not much money out here, either. But those who live in her neighborhood, have something unique that nobody else in the city has — a "grandma" serving home-cooked meals from a walk-up restaurant in her front yard at absurdly low prices.
“Oh, it’s unbelievable,” said Martell Alvin, 29, her next-door neighbor who regularly walks the few steps over from his house for full-size dinners that are usually cheaper than fast food. Sharpest Eatery’s motto is “Home of the $5 Meal.” And for that, customers get a meat and two sides, which includes dozens of options based on the ingredients she has in her pantry or growing in her backyard garden.
Sometimes she’s serving standard carryout meals like burgers and fries, rib tips and greens, chicken wings or pork chops, hot dogs or sausages. Some days, the menu is more refined, such as crab cakes or meatloaf, vegetable lasagna or salmon croquettes, pepper steak or pork chops. A couple weeks before, she threw a big, Southern-style crab boil for everyone who was around that day.
Sales at the Steel Street eatery — open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner — have been sluggish since the November death of Doris Sharpe-Frasier's husband and business partner prompted a monthlong hiatus. Though the 73-year-old has other cooking gigs and recently became an accredited chef, earning a culinary degree from Schoolcraft College, Sharpe-Frasier says she enjoys her current arrangement and hopes to attract new customers to stay afloat.
“People always tell me, ‘Girl, you ought to go downtown,’ ” she said. “I’m not going downtown. I like where I am in my yard. I don’t have to pay no rent. I like this here.”