This summer wrought the end of several dining and wining mainstays. Happily, though, their locations didn’t stay empty for long. But do the replacements measure up?
Last meals served
Tucked away on Liberty Street just west of Main Street, this bistro was a staple date destination for 22 years. But Bella Ciao set its last candle-lit table for two June 20, meaning the city’s cooing couples will have to share tortellini in the bigger, brighter Gratzi just down the street.
Where do we start to eulogize you, Zanzibar? Your quiet professor clientele and half-off happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m. made you the place to grab a good martini at the end of the week. Alas, the fact that you only appealed to thesis advisors made filling up your gigantic restaurant on student-dominated State Street difficult. And then you made happy hour 25 percent off in an effort to survive, and then, well, we stopped going.
NYPD (South University Street)
When NYPD’s South University Street location shuttered its doors, all of Frat Row let out a collective cry. (And then Backroom Pizza, down the street on Church, probably invested in riot gear to deal with the spill over of late-night clientele.) As with Zanzibar, your giant dining area led to your downfall. While a favorite in the school year, no lunching students and passed out bar-goers filled your booths in the summer. But we’re confident that you’ll lure a good number of them to the William Street location.
New grits on the block
Grange Kitchen and Bar
The Grange has an optimistic future because it has the market cornered when it comes to the buzziest of liberal buzzwords: “eating local.” Taking over Bella Ciao’s cozy space, this eatery offers a creative seasonal menu in a tried and true atmosphere. A sustainable menu sounds good and will likely lead to a sustainable restaurant concept, but we’ll see how appetizing it is when it’s stripped of fresh summer produce for winter.
Sava’s got an upgrade when it scooted across State Street and nabbed Zanzibar’s old abode. The beloved sandwich and salad diner has expanded its menu, adopted a host stand and started preparing for the full liquor license it should attain this winter. With its student following, Sava’s should have an easier time filling the two story dining area at 216 State Street than Zanzibar had — especially if it has last call at 2 a.m. But hopefully a larger menu and restaurant won’t mean lower quality.
Miki Japanese Restaurant
Anyone walking east on South University Street will notice that Ann Arbor has a new neighborhood, Little Asia. Taking over NYPD’s location, Miki is a testament to this recent development. It will be the third sushi restaurant to open on a street that already has No Thai, China Gate, two Korean diners and two bubble tea places. Miki has stiff competition, but if its original location on First Street is any signifier of what to expect, the newest sushi on South U. is bound to be the best.