Detroit's Newest Fusion Restaurant & Bar Brings Flare To The Neighborhood
Written by Chef Elle Simone Scott, Photography by David Lewinski
Our resident food expert, Chef Elle Simone Scott chats with Mashelle Sykes, Chef and Owner of the new Fusion Flare Kitchen & Cocktails restaurant and bar in Detroit. Located at 16801 Plymouth Rd in Detroit, Fusion Flare is the first full-service restaurant to open in Detroit's Joy community in nearly 20 years. A fusion of American, Soul Food and International cuisines, owner and Chef Mashelle Sykes takes classic dishes and adds her own flare.
It’s a fairly calm Saturday afternoon in my home office and I’m eagerly anticipating my interview with Mashelle Sykes, owner of Fusion Flare Kitchen & Cocktails in Detroit’s “Joy” community, a neighborhood encompassing Joy to Plymouth roads and Greenfield to Southfield roads. I’m excited to talk with Mashelle about being the first full-service restaurant to open in the neighborhood in nearly 20 years!
I have my questions ready so I settle in to my desk and give her a call. She answers the phone hurriedly, sounding quite anxious. She quickly let me know that she was short staffed, her assistant cook was ill and she had to step in. Worse, she wasn’t able to talk with me. As a chef, I’m very familiar with this scenario and offer her quick words of encouragement and a promise to reach out again soon.
From that moment, I garnered that Mashelle was my kind of business person; passionate, driven, and relentless. She has the real grit synonymous with Detroiters. I knew that when I was able to talk with her I couldn’t come with just the run-of-the-mill questions, I had to get creative.
ES: I know that Fusion Flare Kitchen & Cocktail is formally Timeout Sports Bar, what inspired you to take your brand establishment in a different direction?
MS: We owned and operated Timeout Sports Bar & Grill bar for 10 years but I have always wanted to own and operate a restaurant. To accomplish this, I decided to go to culinary school and become a trained chef. After completing my certification I opened Fusion Flare Kitchen & Cocktails in what was previously Timeout Sports Bar & Grill.
We wanted to create a fusion of American, Soul Food, and International cuisines.
ES: The restaurant has a very unique name. What inspired the name and menu of Fusion Flare Kitchen and how would you describe your menu?
MS: We named the restaurant Fusion Flare because we wanted to create a fusion of American, Soul Food, and International cuisines. We wanted to take classic dishes and add our own flare to them.
ES: What would you say are your signature dishes on the menu? What is the crowd favorite? I need to know what I should order!
MS: Our signature and crowd favorites are our Lamb Chops, Catfish, Chicken and Waffles, Shrimp and Grits, and Bananas Foster.
ES: I think every chef and/ or entrepreneur has someone behind the scenes cheering them on, inspiring growth and development. Who inspired you to become a restaurateur?
MS: My husband inspired me to become a restauranteur. He’s very supportive of my dreams and goals. It was an easy decision since we had already owned our bar together. He encouraged me to go to culinary school and get my degree. I am thankful that we have walked this journey together.
The amount of sacrifices I’ve had to make to get to where I am has been astounding. Some of them have been painful but I wouldn’t change anything.
ES: How long have you been in the culinary/ hospitality industry? What would you say has been your greatest lesson in business so far?
MS: I have been in the culinary industry for nearly two decades. Over the years, the greatest lesson I have learned is to have discipline and be willing to sacrifice. As the owner, chef, and all other management roles, I have had to be more disciplined. It is still something I am continuously working on. The amount of sacrifices I’ve had to make to get to where I am has been astounding. Some of them have been painful but I wouldn’t change anything.
ES: Here’s a fun questions...If you could have one “Famous Detroiter, dead or alive, come into Fusion Flare Kitchen & Cocktails, who would it be and what would you serve them from your menu?
MS: If I had the opportunity to serve a famous Detroiter it would be Big Sean. First, I would give him our beloved New Orleans style shrimp and grits, then our Caesar salad with homemade Caesar dressing. For the main course, I’d serve our lamb chops with a side of greens and our homemade mashed potatoes and gravy. To finish things off I’d serve our Bananas Foster cake. I know he’d love our newly created Watermelon Margarita known as Paradise; it’s super refreshing.
ES: How do you feel the Plymouth & Joy community have received or reacted to this new kind of “slow food”?
MS: The community has been a tremendous support. We love welcoming the neighborhood into our restaurant. We have been amazed to see the community rally around us and support our neighborhood restaurant.
ES: Speaking of community support, please tell us about your Mainstreet Mob cash mob event, where you’re located and where can we go to stay updated on Fusion Flare’s menu and specials.
MS: Cash Mobs are when groups of people join together to make purchases at local businesses to support both the local businesses and the communities they call home. Ours took place on Wednesday, August 28, 2019, but you can stop by anytime during normal hours. We’re located at 16801 Plymouth Rd, Detroit, MI 48227. You can find us on Facebook and Instagram at:
Chef Elle Simone Scott is a culinary maverick. Always drawn to creative food culture, Elle has been dazzling the culinary world since 2003, quickly becoming a highly sought after Food Stylist and Culinary Producer. Elle has collaborated and contributed her unique styling abilities most recently to America’s Test Kitchen. Also Food Network, Food Network Magazine, The Cooking Channel, CBS, ABC’s The Chew and Bravo.
Her specialties don’t stop with styling and production. As the Founder & CEO of SheChef Inc., a professional networking organization for women chefs of color and allies; Elle shares her passion by mentoring, resource building, business development and most importantly, Food Social Justice.
Elle continues to inspire others and break glass ceilings, as she is currently the resident Food Stylist & On-Air Talent on America Test Kitchen on PBS and the first African-American woman to do so.