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    How a Detroit Restaurant is Bringing People Together by Honoring Mom

    There are many great Detroit restaurants, from fast-casual spots downtown to the creative cuisine found in Corktown. However, the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood hasn’t had a sit-down restaurant in over 30 years. At least that was the case until Norma G’s opened up this year. They’re also doing more than just serving up delicious Caribbean cuisine and cocktails; they’re also bridging racial and economic boundaries.

    We were fortunate to be able to meet the mind behind this new restaurant and create the signage out front, so we wanted to share the work we did along with the things that make us so excited about this new Detroit restaurant.

    What is Norma G’s All About?

    Some lucky locals have known about Norma G’s for a while. Before it was a Detroit restaurant, it was a pop-up business and then a food truck. The popularity of their food is what led them to open their new location on East Jefferson Ave.

    The restaurant is named after owner Lester Gouvia’s mother. He says that the business is dedicated to her generosity, hospitality, and love of cooking. Gouvia was born in Trinidad, so his menu’s Caribbean focus is also in tribute to her.

    Grilled chicken

    Image by Vee Satayamas via Flickr

    His kitchen serves a range of dishes that draw on the many international influences that contribute to his cultural cuisine: African, Indian, French, and Spanish flavors all make appearances. What’s uncommon about his restaurant compared to others specializing in Caribbean cuisine is its liquor license. Norma G’s has a bar offering cocktails and rum punch.

    Creating Signage for this Detroit Restaurant

    Norma G’s contacted us because they wanted signage outside their restaurant. They already had a turquoise logo in a script font, and for contrast they wanted the words “Fine Caribbean Cuisine” in gray to go beneath it.

    We created and installed this sign for them on an exterior brick wall of their building. While we were there, we got to meet Gouvia and some of his staff. The neighborhood was busy with activity; children were getting dropped off before walking home with their parents, friendly neighbors stopped by to chat. What made the project amazing for us was the smell of jerk chicken grilling behind the restaurant.

    Check out our sign from the day we installed it and the Norma G’s logo below!

    Sign for Detroit Restaurant

    Bringing Grosse Pointe and Detroit Together

    Several articles about Norma G’s have recently been published online on Eater and the Detroit Free Press. Freep ranked this Detroit restaurant as number seven on their “Best New Restaurants” list. The author of this article also brought up an interesting point about the location of Norma G’s.

    As mentioned above, the restaurant is in the historic Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood. It’s also a mile from Grosse Pointe. Freep points out that this area has a reputation for its contrast between cultures and socio-economic classes. When asked about this, Gouvia said he was aware of this when he opened his restaurant. By creating a restaurant with cultural comfort foods, vegan dishes, affordable options, and an inclusive atmosphere, he can create a place where everyone feels welcome.

    Mayor Duggan and Motor City Match

    On top of its food, drinks, and location, it’s also worth noting that Norma G’s was a recipient of funding through Mayor Duggan’s Motor City Match program. Detroit Sign Factory was also chosen by this organization when it first opened. The program was set up to offer support for new small businesses to help them flourish in Detroit.

    Gouvia said the following of Motor City Match:

    “Opening this restaurant in Detroit has been a dream of mine … Thanks to the support of my family, the city of Detroit, and so many funders, I have a permanent home in Jefferson-Chalmers.”

    Featured image of Jack Iron rum punch, at the Hardwood Bar & Snackit by Anoldent via Flickr
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