Starlite Restaurant, 7511 Michigan Avenue, Detroit MI 48210
In the early part of the twentieth century, one of the most popular family restaurants in our west side Polish community was the Starlite. It was located at 7511 Michigan Avenue, on the south side of the street, between 51st and 52nd Streets, along a strip of two-story brick buildings. The restaurant remained in business until approximately the 1980s.
Like the Warsaw Café, which was located at 3830 35th Street and Michigan Avenue, the Starlite was owned and operated by Ukrainians. But the menu consisted of primarily Polish food, and the food was delicious. It can be compared to Sabina’s Polish Restaurant in Melvindale, which many people today are familiar with. People tended to eat at either the Starlite Restaurant or the Warsaw Café.
Inside the Starlite, there were rows of booths, as well as a luncheon counter. There was also a cigarette machine in the main entrance. According to Society member Mary Pociasek, who has lived in the neighborhood for decades, “People came from all over to eat at Starlite’s. It was a nice, clean place, and there was no problem with parking.”
A long time ago on Michigan Avenue, there were numerous shops and businesses. Across the street from the Starlite there was a dollar store, which back then was known as a five and dime. Neisner’s department store and Cunningham’s were located on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Central. Evelyn’s Dress Shop was a popular store for women, as was Lillian’s, a ladies’ dress shop that catered to older women. According to Mary Pociasek, “When they came here to eat, they would shop.”
Also in the neighborhood was a furniture store, as well as a religious supply store owned by Mrs. Pencza, a tire shop, and Sly’s Appliance Shop at 7601 Michigan Avenue at 52nd Street, where not only appliances, but also records, were sold. Sly’s remained in business for many years.
Today, the neighborhood is nothing like it was back in the 1940s and 1950s, or even in the 1970s. None of the old shops and businesses exist. But the memories remain of a time when the streets were lively, the shops were bustling places, and the Michigan Avenue stretch was brimming with stores, restaurants, markets, and businesses, and every day was a flurry of activity.
Source: Pociasek, Mary. Informal telephone conversation. (West Bloomfield, MI: May 18, 2022)