Thursday, January 16, 2014

Saving Detroit: Over Dinner At Roma Cafe, Vice President Biden Talks Strategy With New Mayor

Biden and Mayor Mike Duggan, mid-dinner

"This is a great city, and there’s no reason why it can’t come back," Biden says...
Detroit, MI - Vice President Joe Biden treated newly minted Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to dinner on Wednesday night at Roma Cafe, the city's oldest Italian restaurant.

The working dinner to discuss strategies to help the Motor City recover from bankruptcy came ahead of the Vice President's visit today to the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center.

Duggan was sworn in on Jan. 1 as the first white Mayor in forty years, and he is a lunchtime regular, Roma owner Janet Sossi Belcoure told Detroit Free Press.  She added that the Mayor is dieting, and often orders salad.  

But the Vice President shook up the weight watching:  Both ordered minestrone soup, salad, penne arrabiata, and veal parmesan. 

Duggan excused his diet swerve by saying "well, when I’m with the Vice President, I’m going to have what he’s eating," Belcoure said, adding that Biden said "I’m a bad influence." Neither ordered dessert, however.

The restaurant remained open to the public as the Mayor and Vice President had their working dinner, but no press was allowed inside.

Standing outside the cafe after the meeting, Biden told reporters that he and the Mayor discussed Duggan's efforts to improve city services, and ways to bring jobs and new businesses to the city.

"This is a great city, and there’s no reason why it can’t come back," Biden said.

"You have a great advantage here in that the automobile industry is up and running and healthy...You have a fundamental building block upon which to generate the kind of economic expansion and growth that is needed," Biden said.

Biden said already existing federal funding is available to help Detroit, but Duggan noted that "we didn’t talk about money at all." 

"We talked about strategy...I just want to make sure that as the Obama administration rolls out strategies about how you bring jobs and economic development to areas that need it, that Detroit’s top of mind," Duggan said.

"And hopefully, I accomplished that tonight.”

Detroit Free Press also reported that when it was time to pay the dinner bill, "a member of the Secret Service handed over a credit card to pay for Biden’s and Duggan’s food." Other Secret Service members later returned and bought their own meals, the paper said.

Information:  Roma Cafe is at 3401 Riopelle St, Detroit, MI 48207.  Phone: 313-831-5940.

*White House photo