Acclaim is no assurance of success at a time of pestilence.
Saffron De Twah, a year-old Moroccan bistro in the Kettering neighborhood on Detroit's east side, earned reviewers' praise, a James Beard Award nomination, a restaurant of the year honor and thumbs-up from our Detroit Digest video reviewers last month.
But Covid changes everything, so chef-owner Omar Anani tries a new survival route. "We are shifting this week to focus solely on Saffron Community Kitchen's work providing meal relief to local residents," he announces in a message to Deadline Detroit.
"For the past few weeks, we have been serving over 500 meals a day for residents on Detroit’s east side at our 7636 Gratiot address and on Detroit’s west side via our sister food truck The Twisted Mitten." That service is financed by Brilliant Detroit, a five-year-old nonprofit focused on families with children up to age 8. It's based on the near west side, with seven satellite locations citywide.
Anani still will cater large-group events from his restaurant with a wordplay name, but today stops serving carry-out orders. Inside dining halted last March.
"This will enable our staff to put our energy, creativity and care primarily into providing hundreds of meals for Detroit," his message says.
"Through 2020, we have focused on staying nimble," adds the 38-year-old chef. "During the early pandemic, we closed our doors and pivoted to focus on feeding the frontline by providing meals to first responders, hospitals and medical professionals [under a city-supported program].
"Shortly after shifting to carry-out only for our summer menu, we opened the doors for our Saffron Community Kitchen program. ...
"We are grateful to our customers, local and otherwise, who have supported us through multiple transitions during this very difficult time. We deeply appreciate your patience throughout this unpredictable year."