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Your Table Is Ready
ADAM DUERSON
July 02, 2007
He feasted on quarterbacks for 12 seasons. Now the Lions' alltime sack leader is inviting Motown to chow down at his three highly acclaimed restaurants
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July 02, 2007

Your Table Is Ready

He feasted on quarterbacks for 12 seasons. Now the Lions' alltime sack leader is inviting Motown to chow down at his three highly acclaimed restaurants

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After 12 seasons with the Lions, three Pro Bowl selections and a team record 95 1?2 sacks, Robert Porcher should have found the notion of hanging up his size-15 cleats easy to contemplate. But true peace of mind didn't come until he was sure he had something else he could successfully tackle. During a preseason game in 2004, before his 13th season was to begin, the 6' 3", 275-pound defensive end overheard some visiting Steelers raving about a Detroit restaurant. Having opened an eatery just months earlier, Porcher was all ears. "They were saying stuff like, 'Man, we were at this place last night and it was great,'" Porcher recalls, "even gabbing about the dishes they had." He listened more closely and to his delight realized they were discussing his own downtown dinner spot, Seldom Blues. Reassured, he announced his NFL retirement shortly thereafter. "You have to understand," he says of the Steelers' chatter. "We were in a game!"

A 37-year-old divorced father of three, Porcher is the co-owner of a trio of Motown's finest restaurants. Seldom Blues, a 300-seat supper-and-jazz club in the iconic Renaissance Center, with a breathtaking view of the Detroit River and Windsor, Ont., was named Restaurant of the Year in 2006 by the Detroit Free Press. Among its regulars are John Legend, Rasheed Wallace and Stevie Wonder, who was so pleased by two straight nights of Seldom meals last summer that he took the stage for an impromptu set. Porcher followed with the Detroit Breakfast House & Grill, which Hour Detroit magazine named one of the city's 10 best new restaurants for 2005; its soulful fare, like jalape´┐Żo cheese grits, was inspired by Porcher's South Carolina roots. And last year he opened the Grand City Grille, a casual dinner spot in the historic Fisher Building. "Robert's a guy who, once he's involved, wants to learn everything," says business partner Frank Taylor. "And he doesn't want the fast version."

Porcher works on almost every aspect of his restaurants. He schedules weekly cooking lessons with his executive chef, and his desktop is scattered with restaurant promotional tapes, wine catalogs and the demo CDs of prospective jazz acts for the bar at Seldom Blues, which Esquire named one of America's best. He's even lent a hand in design elements, his pride and joy being the curving bar at Seldom that looks out on the aqua river. On a recent spring evening, as Sade played on the stereo and the dinner crowd trickled out, Porcher bellied up for a nightcap. Minutes later he had a glass of wine in his hand and a lady visitor by his side as the moonlight danced on the water.

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