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Tuesday October 21, 2014
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A Cultural One-Two Punch

 

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But inside, Jim Macdonald was having none of the emotional doomfest, briskly explaining his reasons for shutting down: his youngest was out of college, he wanted to slow down, play more golf, and devote more time to Pastabilities, his pasta factory on the south side of Ann Arbor that he has owned since 2000. He was doing what he usually does at five o'clock, conducting staff dinner, an old-school European restaurant tradition. In a cross between a meeting, in-service training, and prework break, eight waitstaff sat at a round table in the dining room, tucking into a dinner whipped up from kitchen leftovers by line cooks. Macdonald was wearing old Bermudas and scuffed sandals which only marginally detracted from his clipped, authoritative presence. Each waiter had a wine glass. Macdonald poured a bit of red wine from a bottle concealed in a paper bag into each glass for a blind tasting. "Italian or American?" he demanded. Most guessed American. "What grape?" he persisted. "Come on, you should know it from just smelling it." One said Cabernet, but most of them correctly recognized it as an American Pinot Noir.

At 5:10, a woman began vacuuming the dining room, and the staff dispersed to put on their work clothes. Jim went home to feed his dog and change his clothes before work.

Macdonald and his wife, Kathy, have sold the business to Brandon Johns, former chef of Vinology and the Chop House, and his wife, Sara. Their restaurant, the Grange Kitchen, will open in August.

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