Stephanie Byrd and Cristina Byrd might share the same last name and co-own the family businesses — a community gathering space full of several generations. But how they got to this point could not be more different.
Their father, Michael Byrd, also is a co-owner of Flood’s Bar & Grille, The Block and The Garden Theater in Detroit. But after 40 years, he is stepping back as his daughters run the show.
Starting in the restaurant business at the age of 10, Cristina Byrd followed in the footsteps of her father, who had purchased Flood’s Bar & Grille in 1988.
Stephanie Byrd was on a different career path. When she was young, she would count change and do other chores in the restaurant. But she then moved to Washington, D.C., to go to college and continued to live there to work in the marketing industry. She returned home 10 years ago to help continue the family’s vision after she realized the empire that her family was building.
It took the sisters a while to learn how to work in sync with each other. Now, they talk regularly when it comes to the businesses, but they also enjoy each other in their free time.
“We’re able to have a good friendship and I trust my business partner implicitly,” Cristina Byrd said. “Even sometimes when we don’t agree on things, I know she has my best interest and our family’s best interest, business’ best interest at heart. And sometimes, she doesn’t agree with me. But we’ve also realized that when we’re not in sync, it doesn’t work as well.”
Cristina Byrd oversees Flood’s, on St. Antoine, and Stephanie Byrd oversees The Garden Theater, which opened in 2013, and The Block, which opened seven years ago. Their father and his business partner, George Stewart, own the whole block where the latter two businesses are located on Woodward Avenue between Selden and Alexandrine streets. This includes office spaces, parking garage, retail and apartments.
The Black-owned businesses have a huge focus on their customers and their employees.
At Flood’s, all of the managers have been working at the restaurant for more than 10 years. And the menu hasn’t changed much in an effort to keep a familiar vibe and refrain from following trends.
The Block has a completely different vibe with an emphasis on weekend brunches.
And The Garden Theater holds large events in its space with a capacity of up to 1,000 people depending on the type of event.
COVID-19 created a lot of shifts for the family’s businesses. Michael Byrd started to step to a behind-the-scenes role and his daughters had to fill in to help with restaurant responsibilities. After the second pandemic-related shutdown, Flood’s saw business pick up again. The demographics of the restaurant evolved, too, to customers between the ages of 30 and 50.
“Flood’s is a love letter to Detroit,” said Stephanie Byrd. “And no matter if it’s young or old, we’re going to make sure that we stay the course and we stay Detroit.”
Stephanie Byrd and Cristina Byrd learned entrepreneurship from their father; likewise, Michael Byrd learned it from his father. Michael Byrd started working with his dad’s cement company at a young age, where he did bookkeeping and managing jobs.
Before he started his own business, he worked as a manager at General Motors at the time when the company purchased Electronic Data Systems, or EDS. And when the company took over his division at GM, he started traveling to other states. He saw a lot of events and happenings across the country, but rarely saw spaces that catered to Black people.
More:Black History Month: 2 Detroit funeral homes find ways to support each other
More:Black History Month: Chapman’s Jewelry repairs have been popular for decades
“After speaking with a number of people, it was also known that if it could happen — it could happen in Detroit,” Michael Byrd said. “There would be opportunity and challenges here, so that’s what we went about doing — trying to find out where was the niche for us? What could we do?”
He originally had more people that were set to join him in the new business, but they backed out at the last minute. After talking to his wife, Alida Quick Byrd, he decided to take ownership of the restaurant. His wife and cousins served as the first managers. His uncles have also worked with the restaurant since its start.
Now 40 years later, he says he is impressed by the way that his daughters have taken leadership over the businesses.
“I’m very confident that they have the skills to make it happen,” Michael Byrd said. He said he and his wife wouldn’t have been able to get through the pandemic period without their daughters and grandson.
There are plans to expand Flood’s, including some new menu items. There also is a stand-alone bar set to open in The Garden Theater.
“Flood’s is family-oriented and we’ve been able to invest in the futures of our family,” Stephanie Byrd said. She notes that her father’s goals are being fulfilled. “He did exactly what he intended to do.
“We’re second generation, and now we’re talking about my nephew, who’s third generation. We hope that we’ll get to the fourth and fifth generation,” she said.
Contact Chanel Stitt: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New donut ship in Brandon has a local twist Steve Fenske reports BRANDON, Fla. - What were you doing at 24-years-old? Jason Patel just opened his first busin
Friday’s Barbershop marks 5 years in business Friday’s Barbershop at 509 N. Cleveland Ave. in downtown Loveland will reach its fifth anniversary in busin
ST. PETERSBURG — So, three hours before the season’s first pitch on Thursday, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg threw a curveball of his own.It wasn’t nasty. It
Michael Cohen's attorney said the case against Donald Trump is "very solid," though it won't "be an easy