FLINT, Michigan (WRJT) - (05/17/2019) - Flint Restaurant Week is in full swing. The five day event which began on Tuesday, continues through Saturday night.
What began as a way to help out restaurants at the height of the Flint water crisis, has turned into a culinary event in its own right.
The resurgence of the downtown began about ten years ago, with Blackstone's men's clothing store re-opening as a restaurant.
"Everybody was excited," said Patti Bergstrom,"we were serving a lot of Irish cuisine at that time, we had lines around corner of the building."
Bergstrom vividly recalls when her daugher and son-in-law opened Blackstone's in 2009, joining Churchill's and The Torch as downtown mainstays.
"People were very interested in coming down and wanting to see what was going on," she added.
What was going on was the re-birth of the downtown. The 501 Bar and Grill opened up next.
"This is where ideas kind of form here, is when they're sitting at our tables here," said General Manager Joe Kukla. "We had a good hand in bringing back the city."
The Uptown Reinvestment Corporation created a re-investment strategy--its for profit partner developed additional projects including the Flint Farmers' Market, Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, and the Capitol Theatre.
It's newest endeavor is "The Marketplace", mixed-income housing at the corner of 3rd and Wallenberg.
The Flint-Genesee Chamber of Commerce says more than 100 million dollars have been invested downtown, mainly private investment:
"A strong Flint is key to a strong Genesee County we're all in this together," said Tyler Rossmaessler, director of Economic Development for the chamber.
The result has been the creation of a more vibrant downtown.
Friday night 'Friends of the Alley' held their first-ever community dinner in Buckham Alley. The event served as a fundraiser for additional beautification projects.
An early dinner crowd packed the 501 Bar and Grill and Blackstone's ahead of the 'Mega 80s' show at the Capitol Theatre.
"It was convenient," noted Flushing resident Sandra Dell,"we can park, we can walk to the Capitol where we're going afterward."
Diners like Flint resident Stephanie Jones were also taking advantage of 'restaurant week':
"There's still good things in Flint going on," she said,"the food is awesome, the shots are amazing."