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Old, Dusty Dinnerware Finds New Life at Detroit’s Lady of the House |

Old, Dusty Dinnerware Finds New Life at Detroit’s Lady of the House

In September 2017, Kate Williams opened one of Detroit’s most anticipated restaurants, Lady of the House, and in the year since, the buzz has persisted. Williams was named a Food Wine Best New Chef, for one. “Lady of the House may be a gift to the city of Detroit from its native daughter, but what Williams has built resonates far outside the city limits,” wrote restaurant editor Jordana Rothman

Williams’ no-waste ethos—an energizing force behind the delightful, surprising food that leaves her kitchen—extends to the dining room, as well. 90 percent of the dishware at Lady of the House is donated, Williams estimates, by people who are looking to unload boxes of china gathering dust in their attics. The resulting aesthetic is charming as hell, feeding the pervasive sense that you are being hosted in a good friend’s home.


“As the concept of Lady of the House came to life, my aunts were cleaning out their storage units and said, ‘Oh, we have all these dishes, they’re great-grandma’s, you want them?” says Williams. Later, when one of her aunts visited for dinner and ate from the plates she had donated, she started crying. 

“That was our opening set of dishware. And then we’d hear, ‘Oh my gosh, do you need more dishes, I have so many!’ People were so excited to give a second life to these dishes that were just sitting there,” Williams says. “And then they would come in the next month excited that they were eating off the dishware they donated.”

We are taking china dinnerware donations! We opened with some of Chef Kate’s aunt and grandmother’s beautiful china and since then, members of our staff (special shoutout to @loombug) regularly thrift for china to keep us stocked. Sometimes, even guests will drop off unwanted china…and if you would like to do the same, DM us and let us know what you have! We love giving china a second life because really….why wait for a special occasion?

A post shared by Lady of the House (@ladyofthehousedetroit) on Jul 28, 2018 at 9:30am PDT

In the months since opening, word has spread throughout the Detroit area that Lady of the House accepts dishware donations, so the team is regularly surprised with boxes of beautiful, dainty china that had been ignored for decades, gathering dust in attics. A recent donation was sent to the restuarant without a name.

“They were just sent to us with a little heart, and the note, ‘Hope you can enjoy these and put them to good use,’ wrapped in old newspapers and three or four boxes of them,” Williams says.

There’s one couple that brings boxes of old dishware once a month, and many more who reach out after dining at Lady of the House, asking if they are accepting donations. (The answer is always “yes.”)

Of course, this means that none of the dishware matches, and Williams is fine with this. Diners are, too. The look of the space is cozy and eclectic, an ideal backdrop for Williams’ brilliant food. 

While word has spread that Lady of the House will take your old china—thanks to a few social media call-outs, too—there’s one thing Williams will always desperately need. 

“We never, ever have enough tea cups,” she says. “Those chip easily. We are always looking for tea cups.” 

So if you have tea cups in boxes somewhere in your house, consider donating them to a far greater good than dust accumulation. 

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