Community restaurant Dilla’s Delights to stay open through international support

A fundraising goal of $15,000 was needed to keep black-owned bakery shop Dilla’s Delights open for business. Now, thanks to an outpouring of assistance from around the world, the downtown storefront isn’t going anywhere.

Herman Hayes, known as “Uncle Herm,” is the owner of Dilla’s Delights. Hayes is also the uncle of the late legendary producer, James Yancey, a.k.a. J. Dilla. Dilla’s last album, “Donuts,” was the previous official release from Dilla before he passed away in 2006 from rare blood disease TTP and complications from lupus. Hayes opened Dilla’s Delights to honor his nephew and represent his two daughters Ja’ mya and Paige Yancey, who are directly impacted by the bakery.

Hayes, a baker himself, worked for Dawn Donuts in Flint, MI, for years before opening up Dilla’s Delights in 2016. Hayes, along with family members, make the donuts fresh in the store. Each donut includes organic, high-quality ingredients. Unique flavors such as Brewster’s Banana Pudding Cake, Conant Gardens Glaze, and Aaliyah Lemon Filled appear on the menu. There are vegan-friendly options as well.

Recently, Hayes battled skin cancer, which forced him to shut down for a month. Business slowed down, affecting Hayes as an independent owner. Now cancer-free, Hayes had to figure out a way to generate money to keep the bakery in business. In 12 days, Hayes raised over $16,000 through GoFundMe. The funds will “update, repair, and replace equipment used heavily for four years.” It will also “help acquire wholesale vendor contracts, and upgrade to sustainable merchandise.” Finally, it will “aid in the search for a future home, provide project renderings, and secure the legal aid needed to move forward with ease.”

Dilla Delights isn’t the first venture that Hayes has created on behalf of J. Dilla. He, along with family and friends, created the “J. Dilla Project” in 2007. The project was designed to help find a cure for lupus. Additionally, there’s “Dilla Day,” which fans from all over the world commemorate the legacy of J. Dilla on or around his birthday, February 10. Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, J. Dilla’s mother, spearheads the annual celebration.

Hayes is happy about the successful fundraising campaign. “I’m carrying on my nephew’s legacy in a positive manner,” Hayes said. “It means a lot to me, but I want it to mean a lot to Dilla’s fans and Detroit.

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