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Upscale bistro and music venue Soul on Ice opens in Detroit

The project by Herb and Danielle Sanders was partially funded by a Motor City Match grant

By Lee DeVito on Tue, Dec 20, 2022 at 2:33 pm


A new soul food-inspired bistro and lounge that will also host live music is opening on Detroit’s west side. Soul on Ice is set to open to the public on Wednesday at 8867 Livernois Ave. in a space south of the Avenue of Fashion that was formerly known as the Varsity Lounge and the Penthouse Lounge.

Owners say the menu will feature soul-food inspired dishes and cocktails, and will also host “music from internationally known Detroit based DJs such as Bruce Bailey, Kelly Holmes and Vernon English, live jazz, house, old school hip-hop, blue-eyed soul, R&B and other soulful musical performances.”

The 2,400-square-foot project is the latest development from Herb and Danielle Sanders, a long-time westside couple known for hosting charity events like “The Not Just Knee-Deep Funky Ski Lodge Party.” Herb is founder of Sanders Law PLLC while Danielle is in real estate and property management.

“We’re opening just in time for the Christmas holidays as a gift to the city that has given us so much over the years,” Herb Sanders said in a statement. “Our family is happy to create a place for people to gather with their friends in a warm, inviting space celebrating African-American culture in a way that welcomes people from all backgrounds.”

The $500,000 project was partially funded by a $35,000 grant from the Motor City Match program. The owners say Soul on Ice will hire 15 residents of Detroit, and add that the entire project was built by minority-owned contracting companies.

“We were born, raised, educated and started our own family here,” Danielle said. “We know and love the city. That’s why we decided to take a leap of faith and create an experience we felt was missing for us as a couple in Detroit. Soul on Ice will be a catalyst for extending the success of the Livernois Avenue of Fashion from Seven Mile to Joy Road. And as a result, spur more business and residential investment in neighborhoods south along Livernois.”

“This is a place where people can hang out, feel comfortable and chill,” said Herb. “Relax and have some soul on ice with your friends.”

Motor City Match winner transforms abandoned property into top-tier entertainment venue in Detroit



  • Soul on Ice is a black-owned, upscale establishment in the heart of Detroit’s Midwest neighborhood

  • Founders Herb and Danielle Sanders opened Soul on Ice to welcome luxury in an area that has embraced change

  • Motor City Match has awarded $11.4M in cash grants, 84% of overall winners are minority-owned businesses and 74% women-owned

  • Detroit Soul is the 144th operating brick-and-mortar business to have opened to date

Today, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and city leaders held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Soul on Ice , marking the 144th brick-and-mortar opened by Motor City Match. The bar and longue has been dubbed by its owners, Herb and Danielle Sanders, as Detroit’s premier entertainment venue, offering a unique and luxurious dining experience for patrons within the city’s Midwest neighborhood.

“You do not come or leave as a customer, you leave as a friend. We would like our customers to feel the same as a friend or family member would feel,” said Mrs. Sanders.

The establishment, once an abandoned and aging structure, now boasts a modern and sophisticated atmosphere, complete with sleek furnishings and cutting-edge design. The menu features a range of expertly crafted and “soul-infused” dishes, and a wide selection of cocktails mixed with fresh juices that are squeezed on site by the bar's mixologists. Patrons can also catch live musical performances from local and internationally renowned soul, R&B, hip-hop and techno artists.

The Sanders have established a reputation for hosting charitable events benefiting the local community and view this business venture as an extension of their giving.

“It’s not just about making a profit, but also giving back to the community because we love our people, and the revitalization of Detroit is something that we are very passionate about,” said Mr. Sanders.

The establishment also provides employment opportunities for residents, contributing to the local economy and helping to reduce unemployment rates. The Sanders pay wages above the bar industry average and treats their employees like family, translating into exceptional services and dining experiences for guests. Ultimately, the Sanders want their establishment to become a permanent fixture within the community that inspires others to make a difference.

"Every neighborhood deserves to have a quality gathering spot where residents can enjoy good food and entertainment.  We've seen a lot of that on the Avenue of Fashion, but Herb and Danielle Sanders are bringing that same experience farther down Livernois to the Midwest neighborhood with Soul on Ice," said Mayor Mike Duggan. "We are so proud that Motor City Match is helping entrepreneurs like the Sanders open their businesses and bring new vitality to more neighborhoods."

The business, located at 8867 Livernois in Detroit, is supported by a $35,000 cash grant from the 19th round of the Motor City Match program, which went towards building renovations. The bar and longue is open during evening hours Wednesday through Sunday. Valet parking is also available.

“Soul on Ice is a space where people can enjoy excellent food and drinks in an atmosphere that is both chic and inviting," said Sean Gray, vice president of Small Business Services for the DEGC. "We are excited to have this new, upscale dining experience for residents of the community.”

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