Under The Radar
As owner of Detroit-based, Brooklyn Outdoor, a successful national outdoor advertising company, Candice Simons knows a thing or two about about how to take business and add that personal and winning finishing touch to any meeting.
One thing about business in any city that we can all agree on is that there isn’t a business owner or entrepreneur out there who doesn’t recognize the importance of hard work.
Successful professionals also know the value of creative play and social engagement–taking advantage of relaxed social circumstances to connect with clients and professional partners, or to strengthen the bonds and build rapport between your own team members.
Whether it be networking, happy hours, entertaining a client, company retreats, or special events - sometimes it’s drinks, sometimes it’s dinner, and sometimes it’s something else entirely, but it’s also a rare opportunity to share a memorable experience and make a concrete and lasting impression.
Knowing how to pick the right restaurant when a big client comes to town, and understanding how to select the right venue for your next corporate event is an acquired skill–and it can be an important part of your professional identity.
All too often, we tend to default to the popular restaurant, the familiar steakhouse, or the place we think an out-of-town guest might want to go to experience something that is quintessentially Detroit. When it comes to company functions, it’s all about the basics and the bottom line: whether or not a venue can accommodate your numbers, and what the price tag is going to be.
There’s something to be said for putting a little extra thought into the process, however. Detroit is filled with hidden gems and unique opportunities to flex your creative and professional muscles and select something special, something unique, and something that will resonate with a client or have a meaningful impact on your employees. Consider these tips and ideas the next time you’re making reservations or reserving space for the annual company meeting:
Stray from the beaten path
Get creative. Be inspired. Try something non-traditional. Unique spaces and places are also a unique opportunity to make what could have been a run-of-the-mill meal or meeting into something remarkable and potentially memorable, especially for those who have not experienced Detroit outside of the traditional. Consider offbeat or unusual venues like the Jam Handy Building. This extraordinary space was made famous by the work and artistry of Henry Jamison "Jam" Handy, a former Olympic medalist who became a prolific and influential filmmaker. Renovated and partially restored by its current owners, this former film studio is a piece of Detroit history and an architectural treasure that plays host to concerts, exhibitions, dinners and other special events. Another raw industrial space that can provide a similarly creative vibe is the Russell Industrial Center, a unique warehouse performance space and center for the creative in Detroit – there are spaces to fit every need within the mysterious and unique Russell Center. There are many places within Eastern Market hiding around every twist and turn, such as the Red Bull House of Art, Inner State Gallery, and the Brooklyn Outdoor loft, our corporate, Detroit home, that has been home to the community and company planning meetings for Detroit Creative Corridor Center, Murals in the Market, The American Heart Association executive leadership board, and more.
Do your homework
Choosing a venue can be about much more than finding a place with an acceptable menu or convenient parking–it’s an opportunity to forge a connection or reinforce a message. Consider picking a place with a unique history, a powerful narrative, or creative sensibilities that connect with your team or are relatable for your clients. When the themes that define a property or the ideas that motivate its owners or operators are relevant to your message, it can help drive home a point at your company meeting. And when the story of a unique space has elements that resonate with your clients, they will notice. The care and attention you take to select the right venue will be evident, and will reflect positively on you and your brand.
One such example of a venue that sends a positive message to employees and clients alike is Batch Brewing Company in Corktown, Detroit, one of Michigan’s newest breweries. Batch is much more than a local taproom–it’s an example of entrepreneurial drive and inspired creativity in action. From its master brewer to its world-class facilities, along with Stephen Roginson's unparalleled experience in branding and marketing, Batch Brewery has made going above and beyond a business model, and has demonstrated the potential for innovative and inspired entrepreneurial energy in action. The menu is ever changing, both food and beer, and is always of the highest caliber.
Make an Impression
Whether you are inspiring employees or connecting with clients, the bottom line is that you want to leave your guests with lasting memories. Don’t just take them to dinner–find out what new restaurants are making waves and inspiring foodies. Don’t just reserve meeting space–instead consider holding your biannual company meeting at an art gallery or other creative community arts space. The Whitney historic mansion, for example, is the kind of place that can elevate a standard business encounter into something more memorable. From the fine dining, to its unique Ghostbar, and memorable gardens, The Whitney presents plenty of opportunities to make an impression. The 19th century icon is both a living piece of Detroit history and a one-of-a-kind modern-day venue. Piquette Plant, Cliff Bells, The Carr Center, Lincoln Street Art Park, The Belt, Salt & Cedar, MOCAD, Detroit Institute of Arts, the Dequindre Cut, the DNR center on the Riverfront, and the list goes on.