Detroit steakhouse owner turns to public donations in hopes of saving business

Detroit steakhouse owner turns to public donations in hopes of saving business.

DETROIT – It’s estimated that at least 3,000 Michigan restaurants are permanently closed because of coronavirus.

Related: ‘Things need to change’: Nemo’s Bar struggles to stay afloat amid COVID-19 pandemic

Serial entrepreneur Donald McCoy is working to buck that trend by using the modern method of crowdfunding.

Back in 2017, McCoy took everything he had -- roughly $1 million -- and bought an old steak house at Seven Mile and Telegraph roads and called it Demi’s after his daughter. He worked to turn it into a nice place with a good reputation that picked up steam until the coronavirus pandemic hit.

COVID hit McCoy twice -- shutting down his business and then hitting him more directly.

“I caught COVID on March 20 last year,” McCoy said. “I was down for two months. That was the worst feeling ever.”

Months later, when minimal restaurant openings were allowed, McCoy didn’t have the money to bring back his 18 employees, so he decided he’d open himself.

“Maybe I’ll try to BBQ and grill in the parking lot, sell hot dogs and brats and BBQ you know?” McCoy recalled. “But that was very challenging too.”

It was a vast departure from what was seen at on a 2017 Tasty Tuesday segment that featured Demi’s lamb chops, meatloaf shots and lobster burgers.

The outdoor cooking didn’t work and the bills and debt grew out of control.

“My pride would not let me open up a GoFundMe because I’ve always been the one helping people,” McCoy said.

And yet, that’s what he’s left with. A GoFundMe with the ambitious goal of $150,000 was set up.

“It’s very devastating to work so hard for something and to potentially lose it for something that’s not my fault,” McCoy said.

The GoFundMe might be the only thing that can save Demi’s because of the May 15 tax deadline. He might be able to push it further, but it’s currently do-or-die.

You can donate here.

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.