Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Merlin's Retreat revisited


I just ran across this interior shot of Merlin's Retreat in a box of old photos. It's from July 1985, just before I left Flint for good. (Can you tell I just bought a scanner?)

In an earlier post about the neighborhood around St. Michael's,
Aaron Stengel recalled the scene at the vegetarian restaurant:

"It was a popular hangout for Flint music scenesters during 1981-1983. Many shows were held about a block away at 909 Detroit St. (MLK). The Touch Boutique (also about a block away) was a legendary head shop in the early/mid 1970s. It eventually became a home to members of Jesus Christ and the Superstars and Pincusion in the late 1980s."

The more recent photo is the work of Jar With Most.

16 comments:

  1. Merlin's Retreat is where I decided to become a vegetarian. In 1980, I was just leaving Flint for San Francisco. I thought maybe I was leaving just as Flint was becoming cool because it had a vegetarian restaurant. I'm glad I went anyway.

    So thanks Merlins, I am happy to say that I haven't eaten red meat in 28 years.

    Lori

    ReplyDelete
  2. I used to pass Merlin's Retreat daily on my commute to work. The signage always brought a smile. Once it closed, I was hoping one of the local museums would grab onto it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, it's so cool to see this. I once took my mother there, who was in her late 70s and visiting from Ohio. She ate and drank things nobody else in our family would touch. She ordered a glass of celery juice, I think it was, and absolutely loved it. She sat there under that cloud mural and sipped her green juice like a fine beaujolais.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I see one the founders of Merlin's Retreat here in Vienna, Austria once in awhile. I'll pass this on to him - it'll certainly bring a smile to his face. Nice story about your mom, Macy :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. My mom use to take me to Merlin's when I was young. I knew it was a vegetarian place, but that never bothered me. Now when I want to get a vegetarian fix, I go to Steady Eddy's in the Farmers Market. They have GREAT food!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I remember Merlin's, my mom use to take me there all the time. I'm not a vegetarian, but when I want a vegetarian fix, I go to Steady Eddy's up the stairs in the Farmer's Market.

    ReplyDelete
  7. HI!
    I was a waitress at Merlin's during one of the last summers it was open (1989/90ish). I loved the owners and miss that restaurant. It opened my eyes to how great vegetarian food is! I will always remember that the owner would never let me in the kitchen when she was making up a batch of her veggie burgers because she didn't want her recipe made public. I have been trying and failing to reproduce those veggie burgers ever since - there must have been some secret ingredient! I can't remember her name - but I remember her partner "Sporty". And I got to wait on Fugazi the day after their show at the State Theater. It was a great place!

    ReplyDelete
  8. mj, thanks for commenting. I'd love to hear more of your stories and reflections on Flint.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love Flint! Even though I lived in the burbs we did everything fun in Flint! FIA, Whitting, the Planetarium, Sloan Museum (I loved that big beating heart! Wonder if it's still there?). My parents were both born, raised and worked in Flint. I learned how to ice skate at Ballenger Park - we'd get King Arthur pasties and sit at Ballenger too and eat them. When I was in HS a group of girls would go to Carytown to get served. It was a great place. I always feel pride when I say I'm from Flint - not the burb I where we lived.

    BTW - My mom said she saw the Merlin sign (the big wizard with the lighting bolt) for sale at an antiques shop off Corunna Road. How funny is that!

    Thanks for having this great blog btw!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I was a Flint cop working Special Ops when Merlin's opened. After many years as the 5th Ave. Grill, the neighborhood had deteriorated and all kinds of things were going on at the corner of 5th Ave. and Detroit St. The bar next door (J-J's) was full of pimps and hookers and there were drug dealers all over the place. About the second day they were open, Merlin's started calling the station complaining about prostitutes on the corner. They wanted them removed because they were affecting the veggie business. Are you kidding me? Anyone ever hear of a little due diligence before you open up a new business in the middle of a rat's nest?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Business owners can be so demanding. The nerve of them expecting the Flint cops to actually enforce the law.

    ReplyDelete
  12. the woman who ran merlin's was tina lytle.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Really, an ex-cop is complaining that a legitimate business was opened in a "rat's nest"...I remember Tina chasing the "girls" out from in front of the building. It wasn't a big deal. We loved Merlin's and were happy to visit that corner in Flint!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I used to go here to eat after yoga class at this great studio down about a block or two past 5th avenue. LOVEd the salad with grated up beets and yellow squash on it and fabulous dressing! The veggie burgers WERE amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Tina was a friend of mine before I left Flint in 1982. I often went to Merlin's. It was a good spot and I had no qualms about going there as I worked at MCC's Reuther Center nearby. Of course, the neighborhood was a somewhat rough one and over the years it became worse.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sport & Tina! So many good memories of Merlins & its influence on how I eat today! Love you guys!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting.
www.teardownbook.com