Businesses gear up for annual Cruisin’ Gratiot

By: Maria Allard | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 6, 2012

 Businesses, restaurants and organizations along the cruise route often get involved with cruise day festivities with specials or events that coincide with the cruise.

Businesses, restaurants and organizations along the cruise route often get involved with cruise day festivities with specials or events that coincide with the cruise.

Photo by Deb Jacques


EASTPOINTE — Pizza dough will rise and beverages will chill as the classic automobiles, hot rods and muscle cars zoom along Gratiot Avenue during the 14th annual Cruisin’ Gratiot.

The event kicks off June 11 with the youth/teen semifinals for the Cruisin’ Gratiot Idol singing contest at Eastpointe Manor, 24611 Gratiot. Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 and include food and soft drinks.

The festivities continue all week long between Eight Mile and 10 Mile roads until cruise day June 16. Cruise day events are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a VIP parade at 1 p.m. and the official cruise from 3-8 p.m.

For many Eastpointe restaurants and stores that line the avenue, more foot traffic means more business.

“My business increases about two to three times,” said Mike Karana, general manager of Buscemi’s, 22044 Gratiot. “Between 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday is our busiest time. When there is people, business increases.”

Staff makes sure to order extra food and drinks for the day. Buscemi’s is known for its pizza and subs, which fly out the door on cruise day. Water, beer and soft drinks also sell well, along with “a lot of small items like chips and candy,” Karana said. “People have to drink and eat.”

Over the years, Karana has met cruisers and spectators from all walks of life, including many who come in from surrounding cities.

“It’s fun,” he said. “You see people walking. They’re happy.”

While Karana enjoys viewing the shiny chrome and big steering wheels that adorn Gratiot, it’s his “son that knows a lot more than I” when it comes to automobiles.

A hot spot during cruise week always has been Cloverleaf, 24443 Gratiot Ave., which will host a car show beginning at 4 p.m. June 12. General manager Carol Corrie, who co-founded the cruise with the late Jim Winn, said business during cruise week could thrive depending “on how much you get involved.”

“You try to find ways to draw (patrons) to your business,” she said. “We try to be very cruise-friendly. We try to appeal to families.”

Because of an increase in business at the bar and restaurant, “We have to put our whole staff on every day,” Corrie said. “We usually have to add a few extra people. It’s fun; it’s hectic. We know to raise up the order level. We have a computer that tracks what we sold from the year before.”

Cloverleaf’s buffet meal traditionally has proved convenient.

“People can come in, eat and leave,” Corrie said.

Drink specials also will be on the menu, and Cloverleaf will have a beer tent this year for the first time. The Cruisin’ Gratiot Idol semifinals will be held beginning Tuesday, June 12, during cruise week at Cloverleaf. Showtime is 7 p.m. Corrie said the semifinals will be held each night until Friday, June 15, with the finals on Saturday, June 16.

Corrie always looks forward to Cruisin’ Gratiot.

“Everyone loves the cruise,” she said. “People come from all over.”

She and others also will think about Winn.

“Jim Winn is very much missed,” she said. “He was such a humble man.”

Visit for all the Cruisin’ Gratiot details. Money raised from various related events supports local charities.

Making the cruise a reality
Cruisin’ Gratiot wouldn’t be possible without generous donations from sponsors. This year sponsors include First State Bank, Faygo, Cloverleaf, C & G Newspapers, Sam’s Club Roseville, the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce, Villa Restaurant, Wow Electronics, and Anderson, Eckstein and Westrick Inc.