Most pizzeria operators hate having to raise their prices, but they do it anyway. Kristen Calverley and Nate Peck, the couple behind Michigan & Trumbull Pizza in Detroit, simply refused. As PMQ previously reported, they were so determined to keep their food affordable and their employees well-paid, they walked away when their landlord raised their rent earlier this year. But they promised they’d be back.
And now they are.
“After years of trying to renegotiate our current lease, we’ve come to the sad conclusion it’s time to move on,” Calverley and Peck wrote in a January 23 post on Instagram. “This relocation comes in an effort to avoid raising our prices and continue our commitment to living wages and our ‘Good Corner’ donations” to local nonprofits.
Announcements like that can spell the end of beloved pizzerias; despite the owners’ best efforts and intentions, their brand often just fades away into memory. Not so with Calverley and Peck, who serve up Detroit-style pizza with inventive flavor combinations.
After three years in brick-and-mortar business, the couple had built up a devoted customer base and earned rave reviews from the media. The Detroit News once praised Michigan & Trumbull Pizza as a “home run” in a city that’s famous for its pies. “If calories weren’t a thing and carbs didn’t count, I could eat at Trumbull & Michigan every day,” the reviewer wrote.
So, when the restaurant finally closed its doors this past summer, the owners wisely kept the Michigan & Trumbull name out there through regular weekend pop-ups at Woodward Avenue Brewers in Ferndale, offering 12” round pies (called Roundy Bois) instead of their usual Detroit-style square fare. And all the while, they were working on their comeback.
Ironically, Michigan & Trumbull’s journey began in Pittsburgh, where Peck and Calverley spotted a gap in the market for authentic Detroit-style pizza. They named their restaurant after the two streets at the intersection of their hometown’s original Tiger Stadium. They eventually relocated to Detroit, set up a location in a food hall in December 2017 and opened their brick-and-mortar store in 2020—also with the help of a Motor City Match grant.
But by January 2023, the lingering effects of the pandemic had done too much damage. The owners felt they couldn’t keep up their high culinary standards, support local nonprofits they care about, and pay their employees a living wage without a price hike. They were determined to find a new space by the time their lease expired in July.
It took a little longer than that, but Michigan & Trumbull now has a new home in Detroit’s Elijah McCoy neighborhood, and Mayor Mike Duggan and other city officials were on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 20. Calverley and Peck were helped in part by a $55,000 grant from Motor City Match, a unique partnership between the City of Detroit, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit and the U.S. Department of the Treasury through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Calverley and Peck used the $55,000 grant to extensively renovate and equip the new space. Their new location is positioned in a thriving neighborhood adjacent to the Dreamtroit mixed-use development apartments. Just four blocks away, it also aligns with the transformative $3 billion development plans announced by Henry Ford Health, Tom Gores & Detroit Pistons, and Michigan State University in Detroit’s New Center.
“We faced difficulties, but we’re determined to keep our prices reasonable for Detroiters,” Calverley said in a press release. “Our success is a testament to the community’s support, and we’re excited to continue serving our unique Detroit-style pizza to the neighborhood.”
In a statement, Mayor Duggan noted that the neighborhood “within the next few years is going to be completely reimagined into a vibrant and walkable community with hundreds of new jobs and residents. We’re glad Michigan & Trumbull Pizza is back on the map after persevering through the challenges caused by the pandemic and know it will continue to be a great place for Detroiters and visitors alike to gather for delicious Detroit-style pizza.”
Michigan & Trumbull Pizza’s commitment to the community goes beyond the kitchen. The pizzeria actively supports local organizations by donating a percentage of proceeds to various community-focused organizations, including the Empowerment Program, Pope Francis Center, Detroit Gym and 3D Detroit. Michigan & Trumbull Pizza also offers a special discount for hospital workers to show appreciation for their tireless efforts.
“The Motor City Match program is proud to have supported Michigan & Trumbull Pizza’s journey in contributing to the economic vitality of Detroit,” said Sean Gray, vice president of Small Businesses Services at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, responsible for managing the Motor City Match program. “Nate and Kristen’s success reflects the resilience and vibrancy of Detroit’s small business community. We’re thrilled they’ve decided to reopen in Detroit and eagerly anticipate their success and positive impact in the community.”
Through 24 rounds, Motor City Match has awarded $15.7 million in total cash grants. Eighty-two percent went to minority-owned businesses, and 71% went to women-owned businesses. Sixty-seven percent of recipient businesses are owned by residents of Detroit.