I‘ve recently come up with a fun game to play around Ann Arbor’s Main Street area while dodging bikers on the sidewalk and small children leaving presents at those “fairy doors,” which kids find so entertaining and I find so annoying. The rules are simple – as you walk down the street, estimate the lifespan of each business you pass. Ask yourself: Where do I see this store five years from now? Five months from now?
If it’s one of the older, upscale restaurants that dot the few blocks of the heart of Ann Arbor, aim high. Gratzi, The Chop House, Real Seafood Co. and Palio – interestingly enough, all owned by the same company – are doing just fine, and other pricey restaurants keep moving in. If it’s a new boutique or a fancy tapas bar, give it at least a few years. But if the business already looks like it doesn’t belong, like Subway, it’s probably best to guess in terms of months. (But I’m cheating – Subway already announced it was moving.)
Why all these changes? Ann Arbor has done an excellent job of building a vibrant downtown that attracts visitors as well as new residents. I know a lot of people who first thought about the University after spending an afternoon in the city, and I count myself among them. In high school, my idea of a downtown was Farmington’s, where a discount movie theater, a caf