Meet your 2012 Hatch winner: A business with authentic flavor and Detroit spirit

Chant with me: La Feria! La Feria! La Feria!

The Spanish tapas bar that promises a relaxed vibe and amazing flavors won the day – they are the 2012 Comerica Hatch Detroit winner.

Owners Elias and Naomi Khalil and Pilar Baron-Hidalgo are coming to Midtown – and I hope the newsboy cap comes with them. That cap is a symbol of the hard work and dedication to their idea that the Khalils brought to the table in this competition. Excellent work, my man.

“La Feria thanks Detroit and the whole world! With love and support coming from all over the globe, we’re one step closer to making Detroit sooooo cool! Gracias!” Elias told me via email.

There was a ton of work that had to be done. First, La Feria had to be selected out of 250 submitted retail business plans. Then they had to pound the pavement – literally, with both feet – to get enough votes to make it into the Final Four. After that, Elias worked night and day to get people to learn about Hatch, the tapas concept and La Feria, all with his cap and red T-shirt in tow.

An estimated 10,000 votes rocked the finals…and some 40,000 votes came in overall. And La Feria somehow beat out its competition. Kudos to Detroit River Sports, Detroit Vegan Soul and Rock City Pies for doing all they could as well – lots of people were impressed with the efforts made on the ground and on social media to get the word out.

This was a race of champions – people who cared enough about Detroit to scrape together a business plan involving the city, its residents and its overall well-being. Gotta love what Hatch represents – a chance to break out of the hum-drum and to give Detroit something new to love.

So, here’s what happens after the Khalils had their picture taken with a big $50K check — La Feria will receive a combination of other services from marketing to legal from the good folks over at Comerica, which provided the funding for the big prize this year.

They also will receive environmental assessment services from PM Environmental; interior design guidance from Andrea Leigh Davis; legal services from Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn LLP; design and branding services from Team Detroit; and IT services from Strategic Staffing Solutions.

Also according to the press release, La Feria will be at 4130 Cass Avenue, right in the heart of Detroit’s Cass Corridor. “The interior will transport guests to southern Spain, replicating the winding streets of Seville. The restaurant will seat 35 with plans for a patio that will add seating for 16 more,” the statement said.

Everybody is darn proud.

“The number of businesses that participated and the voting response for this year’s competition has been tremendous,” said Nick Gorga, co-founder of Hatch Detroit. “We had strong momentum throughout the competition that started with more than 250 submissions and continued through today’s announcement of our winner, La Feria. All of these companies make a significant impact on this region and we’ve been proud to shine a spotlight on these entrepreneurs.”

“The same creativity and passion we’ve seen throughout the contest is what continues to revitalize the retail environment in Detroit,” said Thomas D. Ogden, president, Comerica Bank-Michigan. “Detroit is becoming the place to be for entrepreneurs and Comerica is proud to be investing in its future.”

Congrats to all involved. It was exciting to watch…cannot wait until next year!

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