By K.C. Wassman, Daily News Editor
Published April 21, 2013
After anticipation and speculation, including fake signs suggesting Chick-fil-A and McDonalds would be leasing space, University Unions has announced the tenant line-up for the Michigan Union’s ground floor food court, the Michigan Union Grill.
Ahmo’s Gyros and Deli will join current vendors Wendy’s, Subway and Panda Express in MUG in August, while Pizza Hut, Mrs. Fields, Freshens and Auntie Anne’s will vacate their spaces after their leases expire at the end of the month.
Union officials have not yet made a decision on whether they plan to allow Amer’s Mediterranean Deli to renew its first-floor lease, Laura Seagram, marketing and communications specialist for University Unions, wrote in an e-mail. Seagram said they hope to have a final decision over the summer.
After it was suggested that Amer’s would likely close, a Facebook page was created to rally support to keep the deli in the Union. Though the deli’s owner said the page was created by a customer, E. Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs, accused the owner of creating the page himself.
Ahmo’s, which currently is a guest vendor one day a week at Pierpont Commons, will sell Mediterranean staples like falafels, gyros, hummus and pita sandwiches. Owner Majed Issa said the restaurant’s food seems to be very popular with the students at Pierpont. He is currently planning for Ahmo’s to stay in the Union for at least 10 years, with two five-year leases.
“We’re looking forward to being there,” Issa said, “hopefully all the students are looking forward to it too.”
Issa said Ahmo’s will replace the space currently occupied by Auntie Anne’s pretzels, Mrs. Fields cookies and Freshens smoothies. It will be operational by Aug. 16.
Susan Pile, director of the Michigan Union, said in a statement that Ahmo’s will bring more variety and healthy options to MUG.
“As we looked back on our partnership with Ahmo’s at Pierpont Commons this past year, we have been impressed with their dedication to customer service and healthy offerings,” Pile said. “We know this long-standing Ann Arbor operator has been a popular destination and we’re excited to bring a new location to this part of campus.”
Wendy’s and Subway are returning after their leases end, but with expanded options. Subway will be adding a breakfast menu, Freshens’ smoothies and a second line for more efficient service. Wendy’s will also update its food preparation and add a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, a soda fountain that allows customers to customize their drink orders with more than 100 soft drink flavor combinations.
Adam Kleven, chair of the Michigan Union Board of representatives, said in a statement that Subway and Wendy’s allow students a variety of options at reasonable prices. He added that student feedback made it clear that an American-style restaurant needed to stay in the Union.
In addition to the new restaurants, the release announced renovations to MUG beginning May 5. The renovations are expected to update the operating spaces of the restaurants and improve the seating area. While the area is undergoing renovations, guest operators will provide food service on the first floor.
“I like Mediterranean food, but it sucks that they’re taking out more than one restaurant,” LSA freshman Saba Keramati said.
“I like Mediterranean food, but the pretzels are my favorite,” LSA freshman Ryan McDonough said. “I’ll be open minded, but I’m not happy about it.”
LSA freshmen Nisha Gopal has never been to Ahmo’s, but said she might try it since she comes to the Union so often. Gopal also said that she thinks a lot of people would have been upset if Panda Express was replaced.
“I’ll definitely miss Mrs. Fields,” Gopal said, “but thank God they’re keeping Subway.”
—Daily Staff Reporter Ariana Assaf contributed reporting.
Correction appended: A previous version of this article misstated the status of other businesses in the Union.