Axios Detroit

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🥞 Good Tuesday morning!

  • The holiday madness is creeping closer. Take a breath and be kind.

🎄 Sounds like: "Feliz Navidad" by José Feliciano.

☀️ Today's weather: Sunny and windy, with a high near 35.

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Today's newsletter is 907 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Delano Massey and copy edited by Cindy Orosco-Wright.

1 big thing: 🍝 This year in restaurants

Le Suprême, the French restaurant in the historic Book Tower downtown. Photo: Courtesy of Olsovsky Williams

For the local restaurant industry, 2023 was a year of hotels, coffee and settling into the "new normal."

  • We're looking back at some of the industry's major themes over the past 12 months.

The big picture: There's no getting back to "normal" after the height of COVID-19, and that became apparent this year for restaurants, Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association communications VP Emily Daunt tells Axios.

  • "We saw an adjustment within the industry to a change in societal norms. People are carrying out more … people are dining out more at 6pm than the later hours," Daunt says.

What they're saying: Melody Baetens, the News' restaurant critic, wrote that 2023 was a year of higher menu prices and new hotel restaurants.

  • The Godfrey Hotel in Corktown debuted I/O, a semi-open rooftop bar and restaurant with sweeping city views, plus Hamilton's on its first floor, from local restaurateur Samy Eid of Phoenicia in Birmingham.
  • The historic Book Tower, with high-end apartments and a Roost Apartment Hotel, is now home to Parisian-inspired Le Suprême — one of Baetens' favorite new eateries this year, she wrote.
A blue food truck parked in a parking lot with two people in front of it deciding what to order.
Paradise Street Eats. Photo: Annalise Frank/Axios

Between the lines: For Eater Detroit, 2023 was about "creating spaces" in "unusual or overlooked places."

  • "We're here to celebrate the people and places that have taken Detroit's many underutilized or ignored spaces and have found ways to build a sense of community," editor Serena Maria Daniels wrote.
  • One such place is the Wine Side, offering wine by the glass and to take home in an old revitalized building alongside Red Hook cafe on the Dennis Archer Greenway leading to the riverfront.
  • Another is Paradise Street Eats, an Indian fusion food truck posted up in a Greektown parking lot whose food we highlighted this summer.
  • The city also got its first Black-owned food hall, bringing together nine operators on Six Mile.

Zoom in: Chef Omar Anani's announcement that the beloved Saffron De Twah would close for six months provided a prominent example of a restaurant industry truth — that it's tough, both physically and mentally.

  • Anani needed time to focus on his health and some community projects, the restaurant announced in August.

More on coffee shops and what's coming next year

2. Michigan's playoff showdown with Alabama

Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy looks to pass against Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game. Photo: Justin Casterline/Getty Images

After one of the most dramatic regular seasons in recent college football history, No. 1 Michigan is heading to Pasadena on New Year's Day to take on No. 4 Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

  • The winner of the Rose Bowl will face Texas or Washington in the national championship.

Why it matters: This is the third consecutive CFP appearance for the Wolverines, but the last two ended in defeat.

  • A bowl win would put Michigan in its first national championship in more than 25 years and would cause pandemonium throughout the state.

The big picture: On the field, Michigan (13-0) has been the best team in the country this season. A whopping 17 Wolverines were named All-Big Ten for defense and special teams, while 11 made the All-Big Ten team on offense.

Yes, but: Coach Jim Harbaugh missed six games due to two separate suspensions, the latter dominating national headlines for most of November.

What we're watching: How Michigan's offensive line holds up without Zak Zinter, a unanimous first-team All-American selection at guard who was injured against Ohio State.

  • The Wolverines should (should) be able to hold firm on defense — but if they can't protect QB J.J. McCarthy against a strong Alabama (12-1) pass rush, it could be a long night.

What's next: The Jan. 1 game kicks off at 5pm on ESPN.

3. The Grapevine: You heard it here

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

🎹 Detroit musician Joseph "Amp" Fiddler died Sunday at 65 after a bout with cancer. Fiddler, a singer, songwriter and keyboardist, worked with Parliament-Funkadelic and mentored J Dilla. (Detroit News)

🚈 People Mover rides will be free next year to improve public transit in anticipation of the NFL Draft and other downtown events. (Metro Times)

💰 The Lions are increasing ticket prices next season. Season ticket renewals distributed Monday had price increases from 30%-80%. (Free Press)

🚗 Axios' transportation correspondent reviews the best cars she drove this year.

  • Spoiler alert: Hyundai, Kia and Chevrolet had a good year.
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4. The minimum wage is going up

Minimum wage by state
Data: Paycor; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Michigan's minimum wage will increase from $10.10 to $10.33 on Jan. 1, 2024.

  • For tipped workers, it increases to $3.93 per hour.

The big picture: We're one of 22 states where the minimum wage is set to increase next year, Axios' Emily Peck reports.

  • More states are requiring a $15 an hour minimum wage — including New York, Maryland and New Mexico — a dozen years after Fight for $15 kicked off its campaign.
  • Thanks to inflation, the dollar amount doesn't quite mean what it used to.

Why it matters: For Americans making minimum wage, it's an automatic raise — but it also ripples out. Typically, increasing the wage floor for the lowest earners pushes up pay for those who make a bit more than the minimum, as employers have to adjust pay scales upward.

Between the lines: The Michigan Supreme Court could increase the minimum wage even more.

Our picks:

🥗 Joe is trying to eat clean this week before all the Christmas festivities.

🍪 Annalise is eating clean between all the dozens of cookies.

🗓️ Sam is off.

👋 Everett is also off.