After having trouble drawing customers, Hommus Express, a casual Mediterranean restaurant, closed its doors to downtown Ann Arbor about two weeks ago.

The 529 E. Liberty St. takeout restaurant, called La Pita Fresh until a 2012 change in ownership, occupied the space for about two years under its new name. The property is currently being advertised for lease by Swisher Commercial, an independent brokerage firm.

The 1,864-square-foot area and its basement storage space are being listed on the market at $41 per square foot plus utilities. Randy Maas, one of Swisher Commercial’s agents, said the majority of potential buyers have been restaurant owners, but the space is not limited to that use.

“It’s a popular area and we never know exactly how soon it will lease but there’s a fair amount of interest in the space already,” he said.

Hommus Express is not unique to Ann Arbor and two other restaurants remain in Southfield and Livonia, both operated by the former Ann Arbor locale’s owner, Said Namari.

For Namari, the Ann Arbor restaurant set itself apart from the other two. He said first and foremost, business and sales on a college campus rely more heavily on menu prices than do restaurants in other metropolitan areas.

He said cheaper prices attract more customers, especially price-conscious students. Although Namari described the menu as cheap and the portions as large, he said they were not able to attract enough business to keep the doors open.

Additionally, this past winter’s brutal weather, which Namari believes deterred people from going out to eat as frequently, took a toll on sales. He added that on top of this, competition in the area was strong, mentioning the various Mediterranean cuisine options all within walking distance of each other. Other Mediterranean restaurants nearby include South State Street’s La Marsa as well as Ahmo’s Mediterranean Grill, which came to the Michigan Union’s basement this past summer.

The closing of Hommus Express, a fairly new business, exemplifies a larger trend in the downtown Ann Arbor area. Namari said his situation is not rare and that he watched the businesses around him located on Liberty come and go as a short two years went by.

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