Downtown Detroit businesses ready for return of the auto show

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Inside Checker Bar Detroit, there’s buzz and excitement. This week, people from all over the world will pull up a barstool during the return of the North American International Auto Show.

“We’ve been really looking forward to this for a long, long time,” Checker Bar owner Timothy Allan Tharp said.

Tharp, who also owns nearby Grand Trunk Pub, says it’s the perfect time of year for the event. It’s perfectly placed to overcome the usual post Labor Day slowdown.

“We’ve noticed an uptick, especially in reservations. People are calling to make reservations later this week,” Tharp said. “Our staff is excited about it, they make money, they get more hours, it’s an exciting crowd that comes in.”

On Tuesday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan took a tour of the auto show. He took a ride in the new electric Ford F-150, touting the city’s role in growing the industry.

“It is just tremendous that the Detroit auto industry is doing so well and all three of them are committed to building in this city,” Duggan told reporters.

Later on, Chrysler unveiled the new 300C outside the Spirit of Detroit statue as people from out of town began arriving in the city.

“Look at Detroit. Downtown, the city has really come alive,” said Simon Sproule, who’s from Los Angeles. “People are around, walking around. It’s got a really good feel to it.”

Sproule and his friend Pat Devereux are originally from England but now live in LA. They’re happy the event is in September, not like its usual date in January.

“Very strange, it’s not snowing,” Sproule joked. “We’re here for the auto show and it’s not snowing.”

“This time of year, fantastic,” Devereux said. “This is Detroit at its best rather than at its worst.”

It’s also a chance for the city to show off to an international audience for the first time in nearly three years. It’s an opportunity Tharp and other business owners have missed.

“It’s really exciting to show off all the hard work that these business have been doing and the way they’ve been surviving too,” Tharp said. “Detroit is a really amazing culinary scene.”

Whether from New Zealand, England or LA, those 7 Action News met were impressed with what they saw.

“People have horror stories about Detroit, but it’s been absolutely fantastic,” David Linklater from New Zealand said. “It’s really nice, it’s clean, it’s tidy. People have been really welcoming.”

“The view from outside perhaps is still 10 to 20 years out of date,” Sproule said. “I think people are still thinking Detroit of 20 years ago, but you just have to come here and walk around and you see it’s very different.”


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