Business owners eager to see Detroit in national spotlight after decades of helping keep lights on

Larry Mongo and Michael Simmons
Posted at 7:18 PM, Apr 03, 2024

DETROIT (WXYZ) — In the last few weeks and in the days to come, we're hearing a lot about new businesses in downtown Detroit. Some pop-up businesses may only be around for the upcoming NFL Draft.

In the video below, learn more about new businesses set to open downtown ahead of the draft:

At least a dozen new businesses set to open downtown ahead of NFL Draft

But on Wednesday, we wanted to talk to a couple of business owners who have been in the downtown area for decades.

On Broadway Street across from the Detroit Opera House is one of the city's longest-running businesses, Simmons & Clark Jewelers.

"It's what I call the longest-running show on Broadway," said Michael Simmons, owner of the jewelry story that his grandfather, Fred Simmons, and Harry Clark started in 1925.

Simmons & Clark Jewelers

Michael Simmons, a third-generation owner, has seen and heard a lot around the family dinner table about the business that has been a staple in downtown Detroit and to so many loyal customers over the years.

"We're part of everybody's fun life," Michael said. "Whether you've been dating someone for awhile, so it's a promise ring or it's a birthday gift, a bracelet. And then it's the engagement ring and an anniversary band."

What Simmons said has been so instrumental in helping so many businesses thrive are organizations like the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

Simmons and the rest of the staff are also looking forward to getting in NFL-licensed watches, wallets and other gifts, representing every team.

Michael Simmons, Simmons & Clark Jewelers
7 Action News reporter Kimberly Craig, left, and Michael Simmons, right, owner of Simmons & Clark Jewelers in Detroit. (April 3, 2024)

"Of course, we'll have more Detroit Lions products," he joked. "Just the idea that there's more people down here. We'll be able to show Detroit off. We're a great hospitality city.

Over on Griswold Street, Larry Mongo said increased foot traffic on a Saturday night around his Cafe D'Mongo's Speakeasy has been unlike anything he's ever seen.

In the video below, longtime Detroit workers share their favorite spots in the city.

Longtime Detroit workers share their favorite spots in the city

Mongo opened his bar and cafe in the 1980s but had to limit his business to private parties in the late 90s when it just wasn't safe for his staff and other business owners in the area.

"Downtown was deserted and dangerous," said Mongo, who attributes much of the city's growth to Mayor Mike Duggan and business owners like Dan Gilbert and the Ilitch family.

"The mayor had the nerve to do what should have, probably, been done 20 years earlier: he filed for bankruptcy to tell everybody there's a fresh start here," Mongo said.

Larry Mongo, Cafe D'Mongo's Speakeasy
Larry Mongo, owner of Cafe D'Mongo's Speakeasy in Detroit. (April 3, 2024)

Mongo said he's excited to see the city's continued growth, and he's got quite the strategy to lure football fans over to his bar and cafe during the NFL Draft, and that plan involves barbecue.

"Larry Mongo just bought two big barbecue grills with fans!" Mongo said with a laugh. "I'm going to smoke them over here! I don't care where you are, you can smell barbecue ribs on charcoal! Just sniff their way right on over here!"