An anonymous Facebook campaign is hoping to stir up support to keep Amer’s in the Michigan Union after the deli’s lease expires in April.
According to Amer’s owner Amer Bathish, the page was started by a frequent Amer’s customer and University faculty member in December, and quickly gained followers. Bathish said he didn’t know the customer’s name.
The “Save Amer’s in the Michigan Union” Facebook page currently has 675 likes and is urging supporters to contact E. Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs.
Harper said she has received between 15 and 20 e-mails supporting Amer's, including some from Bathish’s relatives.
Susan Pile, the director of the Michigan Union and Campus Involvement, said the University is currently sifting through a number of options — including the possibility of a University-run café — to fill the space. She estimated that a decision will be reached by mid-April.
Harper also said she was suspicious that Bathish created the Facebook page himself, instead of concerned community members.
“We have every reason to believe that this is not an organic, from-the-people movement,” Harper said, adding that the Facebook campaign is being mounted when Bathish should be focusing on sending a proposal.
Should Amer’s lose the space in the Union, Bathish said he is not sure what his next step would be, but said the potential loss would be “personally devastating.”
“I move with whatever the students want,” Bathish said. “My whole focus is only on the students, and then the faculty and visitors and staff — they just get the benefits of what the student gets.”
Bathish's bid proposal to University Unions — sent in January — will be considered within the next several weeks. Harper said a proper proposal would detail improvements he wants to make to the current restaurant if he wants Amer’s to stay.
Ranae Reilly, manager of Amer’s Café in the Union, said she believes the Facebook group will help the deli’s cause because it shows a high level of customer satisfaction.
“The University’s goal should be to make students happy or the people who work here happy."
—Daily Staff Reporter Jen Calfas contributed reporting.