Topsoil Cafe Opens at MOCAD

Feb 01

9:00 AM

By Erin Piscopink

Tagged: All Neighborhoods

Read the Free Press article in its original format HERE

Vegetarian-Vegan Café to Open at Detroit Modern Art Museum

Sylvia Rector for
The Detroit Free Press

The Museum of Contemporary Art in midtown Detroit will unveil a new permanent installation next week: a vegetarian and vegan café from the creative minds at Russell Street Deli in Eastern Market.
Topsoil Café, which will open Wednesday, will feature a soba noodle bowl and a curry every day, as well as salads and three soups, all suitable for carryout or enjoying in the 50-seat café, says co-owner Ben Hall.

"We'll also have a vegan coney, which we're pretty excited about," he says. It's a tofu hot dog in a bun topped with Russell Street's own vegan chili prepared in a smoother, coney-style texture.
Beverage choices will include beer and wine as well as coffee by Ugly Mug, an Ypsilanti roaster that Hall calls "a really great young company."

Nothing in the café will cost more than $8, he said. Curries and noodle bowls will be between $6 and $7, soups between $3 and $4 and salads will be about $6, he said.

MOCAD members also will get a 10% discount in the café, "so we're hoping that our customers who start coming there on a regular basis will become MOCAD members, and then people who are already MOCAD members will automatically benefit," says Hall, who also is an accomplished artist, sculptor and musician.

He is opening Topsoil in partnership with Raymond Wagner, a chef at Russell Street, and Jason Murphy, Russell Street's co-owner.

"Everyone in Detroit has a vested interest in the success of institutions like MOCAD, and as an artist, the success of the museum is even more important to me," Hall said.

The rustic-urban café space, which has existed almost since MOCAD opened, has been used by small vendors and for occasional events. But the museum wanted a more permanent restaurant that would be an attraction in its own right and bring more people into the building on a regular basis.

Topsoil will follow Russell Street's practice of making extensive use of local ingredients. Hall notes that for the last four years, the deli has been the area's largest single purchaser of grown-in-Detroit fruits and vegetables, which are raised without pesticides and other chemicals.

The cafe will share MOCAD's hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday and Friday. They are located at 4454 Woodward, at Garfield; for more information, call 313-832-6622 or visit