Closings: August 2013
Restaurants and retail
by Sally Mitani
Last spring a hastily scrawled sign on the door of Great Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant said "under new management," but no one there wanted to talk about it. "It's a private, family matter," said one of the staff members, who refused to give a name or say if she was a member of that family. "It's like"--she struggled for words--"one part of the family had a problem with another part of the family, but it's nothing that a customer [or, by implication, the Observer] should care about." She disappeared back into the kitchen.
The family apparently didn't work out its problems, because Great Lake closed soon afterward. Popular with many Ann Arborites, it had a live fish tank, an exhaustive menu of Cantonese-style specialties, and even dim sum, though you had to order it off a menu. "It had a big, mostly unfamiliar menu that rewarded experimentation each time we hazarded it," emails Observer deputy editor Jim Manheim.
Ann Arbor Pizza and Subs "seemed to be doing fine business [with] great pizza and subs. Then it just disappeared. What's the story?" wrote a reader.
A neighbor who prefers to remain anonymous has a different take: "It was never supposed to be there in the first place." By that he meant it had materialized in 2011 from the remains of the failed Marco's Pizza in the same spot, when former employees decided to keep going under their own aegis. The anonymous commentator explains that the landlord gave them generous rent breaks just to keep the space filled. "I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did. They never advertised. Marco's advertised a ton, and they weren't doing so well either."
Creative Papers sold beautiful handmade papers at very low prices. Its secret was low overhead: it was a warehouse business. Most of its trade was online, but the warehouse was open to the public.
Apparently, though, the overhead wasn't low enough. In early July, an eviction notice was taped to the door of the Airport Blvd. space.
Susan Butler, the owner, has reportedly moved to Florida. She left behind some disgruntled customers (one of them contacted the Observer). Butler's inventory was purchased by a Chelsea businesswoman. She writes: "After reorganization is complete, it will open under a different name."
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[Originally published in August, 2013.]