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2012-12-06

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December 6, 2012 - 9:39pm

University purchases building that houses Blimpy Burger

BY ALICIA ADAMCZYK AND RAYZA GOLDSMITH

Teresa Mathew/Daily

Though Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger has been a fixture of South Division Street for nearly 60 years, the restaurant will soon be forced to relocate.

The University reached a deal with the owner of the property where Blimpy Burger is located, meaning the restaurant will have to find a new location in the summer of 2013, according to owner Rich Magner.

Magner told employees that the famous burger business will move out of the space when its lease is up in August. The property is owned by Patricia Shafer, the widow of Jim Shafer, the restaurant's original owner.

Magner said though he knew that his lease was coming to an end in August, he hadn’t given much thought to renewing before the University made a bid. Magner confirmed that the restaurant will remain open and operating until August.

“It is what it is,” Magner said. “If it had been a different person purchasing it, it might have been where I could have renegotiated the lease with them or that kind of thing.”

He said he hopes to relocate to an area close to campus, either downtown or on South State Street, which will take time to figure out.

“It’s not a fun thing for anyone when you have an icon in one location for so long,” he said. “But I (need) to look at the positive side of it and hope that we can do it in a different spot.”

Magner, who has worked at Blimpy for more than 20 years, said his employees usually work for him for several years and he hopes the move won’t negatively impact them.

“My employees have kind of invested themselves in this place ... it’s a part of you,” he said. “But for the most part they’re young and if things go bad, they’ll land on their feet.”

The owner said he hopes the generations of loyal customers will take solace in the fact that he plans to reopen Blimpy elsewhere. He also made a point to emphasize that he is in no way angry with the University or his landlord over the move and will make every effort to make a seamless transition.

“I want to keep Krazy Jim’s legacy going,” he said.

Michael Magner, Rich's son, said the news of the University’s purchase came as a “shock” to him. He said though his father could bid to keep the property, he can’t match the amount that the University has reportedly offered. Magner could not specify the exact offer amount.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the University could not comment on the property acquisition until the University’s Board of Regents approves the purchase. The board is scheduled to meet on Dec. 13.

The University owns a parking structure along South Division Street and two houses at South Division and East Jefferson. These properties are close to Blimpy and may suggest that the University plans to build a new structure in their place, AnnArbor.com reported. It is unclear whether the University has made bids on the other buildings on the street.

LSA junior Luke Thampy said he eats at Blimpy habitually, and though he’s scared that it will move to a distant location, he doesn’t foresee that changing his eating habits.

“The building’s really nice, it’s old, it has a nice history, a nice location,” Thampy said of the burger joint’s current location on South Division. “It’s got a nice flavor down there and I feel if it were to move down to like South Forrest that would just be awful.”

LSA junior David Hunt said the move probably wouldn’t affect whether or not he dines at Blimpy in the fall.

“I enjoy the burgers,” Hunt said “As long as it’s not too far away I’d still go.”

Daily Staff Photographer Teresa Mathew contributed to this report.

This story was updated at 8:25 p.m.