For those who travel from near and far to get a taste of Zingerman’s famous sandwiches, the dining experience may get even better.
Zingerman’s is awaiting approval for plans to expand the restaurant submitted to the Ann Arbor Planning Commission last week. The expansion is expected to cost between $4 million and $7 million and restaurant officials say it would enhance their business and customers’ experiences.
Approval by the Planning Commission is only the first of several steps for the restaurant in getting the expansion project underway, said Paul Saginaw, co-founder of Zingerman’s.
If Zingerman’s receives approval from the Planning Commission, it will then have to secure a loan for the project, followed by approval from the Historic District Commission, according to Saginaw.
In 2008, when Zingerman’s previously applied to begin the expansion process, its efforts were halted when the commission decided that the expansion would impede on the historical preservation of the Kerrytown area.
The restaurant plans to begin construction during the spring of 2011 if its plans are approved, according to Saginaw.
Customers who are used to waiting patiently in line outside the little brick shop and then searching endlessly for a table will find the expansion to be extremely beneficial, Saginaw said.
“If we are able to pull it off the way we want, it will have changed — but will feel exactly the same,” Saginaw said. “(Customers are) still going to walk in the front door and line up through the retail area. Hopefully we are going to improve your experience in that the line will move more efficiently, seating will be more ample and you won’t have to go upstairs to go to the restroom.”
The space Zingerman’s currently operates out of was constructed in 1902 as a small grocery store with an apartment above it.
“It was never made to endure the intensity it is undergoing,” Saginaw said. “Literally we are beating the shit out of the building.”
In order to move forward with the expansion, Saginaw said Zingerman’s owners would destroy the fire-damaged house next to the property on East Kingsley Street as well as the annex right next to it.
But Saginaw said he expects the city will force the restaurant to keep the annex intact and to incorporate it into the design, which will bring additional costs to the project because the annex would need to be placed on a new, lower foundation.
Ultimately, the expansion would include the construction of a new building that would encompass 10,000 square-feet over two floors, with the buildings connected by an atrium. The outside of the new building would be a brick veneer in order to blend with the other buildings in the Kerrytown area, Saginaw said.
“We would like to have ground floor restrooms for the general public, more storage space and more working space for our employees, so we are providing the Zingerman’s experience for them as well and more seating,” Saginaw said.
Saginaw said the company hopes the expansion will turn a greater profit.
“We hope to double our revenue in 10 years,” he said.
At a meeting for Ann Arbor residents held on March 8, 2010, company officials focused on their need to expand in order to best suit their business and bring more customers into the area.
Throughout the construction process, Zingerman’s will remain open, though it may have to close for several days to connect utilities, Saginaw said.