Corktown restaurant Le Petit Zinc forced out of location, aims to reopen elsewhere

Monday, 11 September 2017, 08:31:33 AM. Le Petit Zinc, one of the early pioneers of Corktown's food and beverage revival, is being forced out of its location over an impasse with the landlord.

Le Petit Zinc, an early pioneer of Corktown's decade-long food and beverage revival, will serve its last crepe Sunday from the pint-sized building it has operated from since 2009.

"We apologize for the short notice, we were caught off guard by the landlord's unwillingness to work with us," the restaurant's owners said in a statement. "We were quite disappointed we were unable to reach an arrangement with our building's ownership in spite of all our efforts. However, we will reopen soon in a new location."

Founded at the corner of Trumbull and Howard eight years ago by Francophile Karima Sorel and her then-husband Charles Sorel, Le Petit Zinc was known for its simple Parisian-inspired breakfast and lunch menu, quaint dining room and outdoor patio. (The couple split and Charles moved back to France in 2010, but Karima continued to run the restaurant.)

The Le Petit Zinc building is owned by an entity registered to Michigan Citizens, public records show, but in a phone interview from Paris, Karima Sorel said her mother was the landlord and that they'd been communicating through attorneys since January.

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Le Petit Zinc in Corktown is being forced to move over a dispute with the landlord. (Photo: Courtesy of Le Petit Zinc)

Sorel's parents, Charles and Teresa Kelly, founded the Michigan Citizen weekly newspaper in 1978. Charles died in 2006, and the paper, which was aimed primarily at African-American readers, folded in late 2014. 

"We've been paying rent to her with no lease for the past few years," Sorel said of her mother. "She refused to give us one. I announced to her last Thanksgiving that this brewer wants to brew a Saison and bottle it and we want to sell it and we need a lease. Since then our personal relationship has fallen apart. She's been completely uncooperative. I guess she just didn't want that in her building and she wanted to sell it to someone else."

 

 

Reached by phone Saturday morning, Teresa Kelly offered no comment. "The court record speaks for itself," she said before hanging up.

An initial search for court documents related to the building and parties involved came up empty. But Sorel said she was told the sheriff would be arriving Monday to change the locks at the property.

Sorel is now based in Paris but intends to reopen Le Petit Zinc, possibly in another Corktown location with business partner Scott Rutterbush, who joined the restaurant as part-owner two years ago and also runs the Dine Drink Detroit restaurant promotion and marketing business.

"It needs some renovation," Sorel said of the potential new location. "We were hoping our landlord would give us the time to do it, and she was unwilling to give us even to the end of the month, which would've made a world of difference."

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The dining room of Le Petit Zinc in Corktown, which is being forced from its location over a dispute with the landlord. (Photo: Courtesy of Le Petit Zinc)

Still, Sorel hopes Le Petit Zinc will reopen before the end of the year with a liquor license and a few more menu items inspired by her recent time in Paris. She said she's partnering with Black Bottom Brewing Co. on a Zinc-branded Saison-style beer that will be served at the restaurant when it reopens.

Until then, Zinc fans are invited to enjoy one last meal in the restaurant's original location. Le Petit Zinc will be open extended hours for its last weekend, until 9 p.m. today and Sunday from 9 a.m. until the last crepe is served.

Le Petit Zinc, 1055 Trumbull; 313-963-2805 and lepetitzincdetroit.com.

Contact Mark Kurlyandchik: 313-222-5026 or mkurlyandchik@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mkurlyandchik and Instagram: mkurlyandchik.

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Article Corktown restaurant Le Petit Zinc forced out of location, aims to reopen elsewhere compiled by www.freep.com