Majors in Southwest Detroit

One of the greatest hidden secrets for dining was Majors in Southwest Detroit.  It was, perhaps the most unique restaurant that I have ever been to.  On one end was a full blown bar that shared the menu of the restaurant on the other end.  The bar was completely filled with logos and signage from trucking and logistical companies, plus most of the car companies.  You could tell the type of business men that frequented that end of the restaurant.  The other end was a table clothed full blown restaurant that featured steaks, veal and seafood with an Italian bias.


It was one of the most affordable restaurants in the tri-county area of greater Detroit.  There was soup, salad, pasta, entrée, dessert and coffee and you might not even cross the twelve dollar mark, not to mention great bread on the sides, and you could splurge for an appetizer.


Majors was such a deal that I used to use it for dinners after baptisms and first communions, because it would work out to be about the same price as to do it at home, with the preparation or the clean-up.  There was always a back room that could be set up for a party.  Now that I think about it, there was one back room that was always busy, but that is another story.   Everybody would just order off of the menu, and the staff would bring out plates that were ordered, plus more plates of extra, that weren’t (and at no additional charge, how could you beat that).


As for the wines, it was always basic red Italian wines that I remember plus bottles of Asti Spumante for celebrating.  I don’t remember any white wines, but if there were they would have been the popular ones of the day like a Zeller Schwarze Katz, Blue Nun etc.  Some places the wine shone, others the food did the yeoman work.



Unfortunately, the restaurant was robbed one day, and the owner just decided that was it.  It was a sad day for all of the regulars.

About thewineraconteur

A non-technical wine writer, who enjoys the moment with the wine, as much as the wine. Instagram/thewineraconteur Facebook/ The Wine Raconteur
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62 Responses to Majors in Southwest Detroit

  1. vinibuoni says:

    What a tragic story 😦 Sorry to hear that he got robbed.. Sounded like a nice restaurant!

  2. myweeklywine says:

    What a shame. I hope you find a suitable and affordable replacement for those after communions and baptism dinners!

    • thewineraconteur says:

      Thank you. I did love that restaurant, but my need for communion and baptism dinners are far behind me. They just don’t make places like that anymore, everything is by corporate design. Of course Damon Runyon characters like me are no longer in vogue either.
      Glad that you liked my memory.
      – John

  3. Lauren riviera says:

    My grandpa owned majors and that is not why it closed its doors.

    • Lauren,
      I am sorry if I had posted an error, that was the story that I have heard bandied around from my Father’s associates from the old neighborhood. I really enjoyed Majors and I still speak lovingly of it, and my children still remember it, though not as strongly as I remember it. I still call it one of the great hidden gems of the tri-county area. If you wish I can make a correction to the story.

      • Lauren riviera says:

        No, it’s okay. I was just making it clear. I unfortunely was only 1 when they closed down, but I did have my baptism there. My parents tell me many stories though. I wish I was old enough to remember it, I heard it was fantastic!

      • Lauren,
        I wish that you could have enjoyed the restaurant more, in fact I wish it was still in operation, as I still talk to many clients that remember it fondly as well.

      • Lauren riviera says:

        Sadly, my grandpa died in 1998, as well as his brothers that ran the restaurant with him. My dad has memorabilia from the restaurant, which is very cool! But, I have met many people that have very fond memories. I, also, wish it was still open too! That my dad and his brothers inherited it, but unfortunely we know that outcome. Fortunately, my moms parents over a very successful business in Allen park until my grandpas death in 1096, so I was fortunate.

  4. Lauren riviera says:


  5. Elaine says:

    John where you from Oakwood? I lived on Bayside upstairs from Gonella’s left in 1963. Had my wedding shower and my youngest
    baptism party there.

    • Elaine,
      Thank you for stopping by. I was born in Delray and grew up in Southwest Detroit, around West Vernor Highway and Central. My family had been going to Majors for years and I continued the tradition until they closed. I also remember Cassedei’s around the corner on Fort Street.

  6. Jim Riviera says:

    My name is Jim riviera son of the owner of Majors. My father was Archie Riviera. My father passed away in 1998.
    Like you I enjoyed Majors. I grew up there and my children also.
    What a beautiful article it brings back so many memories.
    Thank you!

    • Jim,
      Thank you for stopping by, and I remember fondly your Father checking either at our table if we were having dinner, or making sure that there was enough of everything, when we had a back room for a family get-together. I am sorry to hear that your Father passed away, and I have to admit that I did not know his last name, because everyone referred to him by his first name. I am glad that you enjoyed the article as it always brings a smile to my face when I remember Majors.
      – John

    • Jim,
      Let me correct my response, as I went back and looked at some of the other messages on this thread, and I realized that I erred, your daughter (I presume) had informed me that your Father had passed away. My deepest condolences.
      – John

    • Harry Pelham says:

      Jimmy, I worked as a Bus-boy for your Father Archie late 1960’s your Father Archie always took care of the Dining Room, Kitchen and the Banquet Room in the back for Weddings, parties etc. Your Uncle Henry took care the Bar and the Book-keeping! You had a Uncle Jimmy I believe was a Engineer at the Ford Motor Company, he would work weekends tending Bar so as sometimes to give provide your Uncle Henry with a weekend OFF now and then. The CHEF in the Kitchen was *Frenchie *Major’s FOOD was FANTASTIC!!!! That was a truly GREAT JOB when I was only 16-years-old and I would make $60-$70 just working Friday night, Saturday afternoon (Lunch) Saturday night and Sunday afternoon! That was YUGE money for a 16-year-old boy in High School for ONLY 3-days a week in the late 1960’s that was BIGLY money! ALL my buddies were jealous / envious of me having that Bus Boy JOB! I believe you had a *BROTHER and if I am right your Dad Archie only had two children 2-sons? You lived out in Allen Park then already? Major’s used to have a *Quartet in to play Music on Saturday nights for dancing, I used to set-up the REMOVABLE / SECTIONAL Dance-Floor and little Bandstand on one side of the dining room while I worked as Bus-boy on Saturday’s LUNCH in the early afternoon…..

      • 4896odie10 says:

        My Father was French, my oldest daughter cooks like him, believe it’s in her blood as my dad lived in Detroit til he passed in 1980, I left home in 1963 as a Military Wife.

      • I am not totally sure how to answer you, but as you can see from other letters the restaurant was fondly spoken of. – John

  7. Elaine Raiteri Burden says:

    Hi Jim, my name is Elaine Raiteri Burden my dad was Frenchy and was your dads Chef at Majors. I think we are also related somehow. My dad was from France but family came from Italy, when he came over, he was sponsored by the Mazzola/Azeglio families. He lived with Tina Mazzola until he married my mother, Gina. If I remember correctly there was Archie, Jimmy and another brother. If you read this I am on Facebook or email me at, would like to keep up with family/friends from Michigan. I have been in San Diego for years.

  8. Bob Woodward says:

    Hi Im Bobby Woodward “Woody” there will never be another place like Majors Archie Jimmy and Henery treated me like family . John the german the day cook and Cisersa the salad lady as well as Frenchy and Pauline on nights. I can still remember closing it every night as I worked afternoons at fords the Midnight Radars Hal Ferris Hank Venda Jack Purty and the crew from GM Fleetwoods and ternsteds and me and Dennis Jenkins running the gas station across powell street what a corner

  9. Nolan LaFramboise II says:

    Here we are in 2018 and I’m posting. Hopefully mine will still register. I worked at Joey’s Stables for years and I also worked a few times for the Riviera brothers at Major’s on holidays when Joey’s was closed. That was part of the neighborhood I grew up in – River Rouge and SW Detroit. I’ll leave it at that for now until I’m sure my comments were received. The Oakwood neighborhood is all but gone, but my memories aren’t.

  10. Pamela Cook says:

    Where was Majors restaurant located in

  11. Gary Dawes says:

    Majors was one of my family’s favorite places for special dinners. I could have fried shrimp and the side of spaghetti! It didn’t get any better than that! My dad grew up in the neighborhood near Clark Park and my grandmother lived there til she passed away. One white wine was B&G Sauternes it was my mother’s go to wine. I still miss Majors! I don’t know if this will post it is now March 2019.

    • Gary, your note made me smile and yes your post worked. I grew up in Southwest Detroit, but I was a Patton Park devotee. Majors Restaurant is still one of my most popular articles that I have wrote, so thank you, for finding it. I also remember B&G Sauternes. – John

  12. Greg Adanti says:

    Hi my moms family owned The Bridge Cafe bar just down the way from Majors. I grew up in Lincoln Park but I have memories of SW Detroit thanks for sharing your memories fantastico

  13. G. L. Adanti says:

    The Bridge Cafe bar was so close to the Rouge river that you could almost swim there if it wasent so polluted. I also remember Lucky Petes bar that once was a bank turned into a bar.

    • Thank you for stopping by and I remember the Bridge Cafe, but I do not remember Lucky Petes, but I do remember Cassedei’s; if you are looking for another bygone landmark of the area. – John

    • Harry Pelham says:

      RIGHT next door to the Bridge Café was “BRIDGE-TV-REPAIR” shop! I remember as kids we used to go in there for 9-Volt Transistor Radio Batteries, he sold them for ONLY 9-cents EACH we needed them for our CHEAP little Pocket Transistor Radios!!!

  14. Greg Adanti says:

    Did you ever meet the witch of Delray?

  15. louie a says:

    How about Lupone’s Pizza?

    • Louie A., I am sorry, but I do not know Lupone’s Pizza. Thank you though – John

    • Harry Pelham says:

      Lupone’s Pizza was FANTASTIC!!! FUNNY! Must have ate their Pizza dozens of times growing up in Southwest Detroit but never ever tried much of their Italian Cuisine though I think I remember trying their Regular Spaghettis & Meatballs which was pretty good! Do any of you remember *Scott’s Hamburgers corner of Fort St. & Woodmere opposite Woodmere cemetery?? I still remember the late 1950’s Hamburger Deluxe, Hamburger French Fries and Cole-slaw ONLY 35-cents UNREAL ONLY 35-cents!!!!

  16. Casey B says:

    I remember going to my great aunts wedding there in the mid 1960’s. My new uncle George was involved with Major’s. When I get Down River I have looked for the location but just can’t find it. It was great in its day.

  17. Jill T says:

    Hi John, I just stumbled upon your website. I was born at Delray General Hospital when it had three rooms in a converted house at the entrance to Zug Island. As a child, I would go to Major’s or Joey’s stables for special occasions and continued to go until I moved out of the area in the ’70s. On Fridays, we went to John’s for perch dinners. I always salivated over the chicken and ribs on the rotisserie in the window, but we were Catholic and it was Friday. Darn!

  18. Greg Adanti says:

    Does anyone know about the incident that happened at Joey Stables in 1928 with the Purple Gang getting involved?

  19. Gregory Adanti says:

    Howdy Im in Texas now doing some sight seeing but i ll be back soon

  20. Mike K. says:

    When I was a young boy in the 1950’s, I remember my parents taking my brother and myself to a restaurant call Majors. One of the things I remember was that it had booths(?) upholstered in black leather or vinyl. Is this the same Majors restaurant? Thanks.

    • Mike K,,
      Thanks for stopping by, and I think you were probably in the lounge part, where you could also dine. The restaurant was mostly linen cover tables, at least that is what I remember the most, back in the Sixties to the Eighties.
      – John

      • bigzim68 says:

        You nailed it, the BAR / LOUNGE was like a sperate room with a YUGE Wide door-way from the main dining room but it the Lounge had a sperate outside entrance same as the main dining room! They had a little Breezeway with a two door’s facing one West and one East inside the Breezeway a Cigarette and Candy Vending machines then two more doors one BAR / LOUNGE the other MAIN-DINING-ROOM!!!!

      • Thank you, I am getting very nostalgic and alas, none of us can go back there, otherwise, I would still be making the drive down there.
        – John

  21. bigzim68 says:

    So TRUE! Their FOOD and SERVICE was EXCELLENT and actually for the era I remember late 196o’s their prices were quite reasonable too!

  22. I remember going to Major’s in the late ’50s, early ’60s with my mom and dad. We didn’t go out to eat very often but when we did it was to Major’s, usually on a Friday evening. Those were the days when Catholics didn’t eat meat on Fridays. I remember having shrimp Newburg and thinking how it wasn’t too much of a penance! I’m not sure if I ever met the witch of Delray but I do remember going to a Hungarian restaurant there with some neighbors after my mom and dad were godparents at their youngest child’s Baptism. There was a fortune teller going from table to table. I was fascinated but my mother managed to shoo her away from our table. Thanks to all for the good memories!

  23. Cantor Kevin Wartell says:

    Major’s was a “major” part of my life from early childhood thru adulthood.

    Archie was like an Uncle and would let me roam the kitchen as a child.
    Angie and Dorothy were the waitresses I fondly remember along with the ceiling that changed colors. Archie even allowed me to sing with the band as I got older.

    I had my confirmation dinner in the back room in 1971.

    As a kid I always knew we were getting close to the restaurant by smelling the salt mines nearby.

    Once , my mom wanted egg plant parm and Archie went out to the grocery to buy an egg plant for her.

    Finally, I loved my kiddie cocktails❤️

    Such wonderful memories of my beloved MAJOR’S

    Cantor Kevin Wartell

    • Cantor Wartell,
      Thank you for your kind words and remembrances. I wrote this article back in 2012 and it is one of only a few that still gets noticed over the years. I still miss it, the tumult and all. I do hope that you had a smile on your face, as you wrote your fine response to me.
      – John

      • KEVIN WARTELL says:


        I can still taste the spaghetti and meatballs and veal parm!

    • Lauren Riviera says:

      Thank you for sharing your memories. Archie was my grandfather, unfortunately Majors closed when I was a baby.

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