In the Works - Fall 2012
New eateries planning fall openings
by Sally Mitani
A flock of new eateries are planning fall openings. The first, slated to open in mid-November, is Vellum, a modern American restaurant by John Roumanis, owner of Mediterrano and Carlyle Grill, and his son Peter Roumanis.
The location at 209 S. Main was formerly half of the late Andy Gulvezan's Monkey Bar/Full Moon; the Ravens Club took the other half last year. The Roumanises purchased the 1886-vintage building in February, and have been renovating it ever since.
"We tried to preserve everything we could," says John Roumanis. "We are trying to make the restaurant simple but beautiful."
On the less-trafficked Fourth Avenue side of the same city block, Khaled Mohamed is working on a pair of businesses, the Blue Lotus Carryout and the Blue Lotus Hookah Lounge, that will share the long-vacant storefront next to Eastern Accents. Widely popular in the Arab American community, hookah lounges were no longer able to serve food after Michigan's smoking ban took effect. The adjacent carryout is intended to bridge that gap.
"There is a big Middle Eastern community in Ann Arbor," says Mohamed, who also owns Troy's New York City Pizza. "But nobody has this kind of business here, with food and smoke." Entertainment plans for the late-night lounge include open mic nights, comedy shows, and DJ music.
The as-yet-unnamed Mexican restaurant by Mani Osteria owner Adam Baru and chef Brendan McCall is slated to open in late November or early December next door to Mani at the corner of Liberty and Division. Baru, whose wife is Mexican and who worked for years with Ecuadorian American "Iron Chef" Jose Garces, says he's planned to open a Latin-themed restaurant for some time. Having it right next door, Baru says, will help the partners keep close tabs on both new restaurants.
Kuroshio, a new Asian fusion restaurant, is aiming to open by year's end at the corner of Liberty and Fourth. "Kuroshio is the western boundary current that flows through Asia," explains general manager Alan Wang, "and
we'll be encompassing all the cuisines that it passes through--Vietnamese, Thai, and a little bit of Chinese." Kuroshio's owners (and Wang's parents), Kenneth Wang and Grace Chen, are Taiwanese, but Wang says Japanese cuisine in particular has always appealed to his father, now retired from international trade, because of its health and simplicity.
Wang says he and his father were surprised when the building's longtime tenant, Champion House, closed abruptly earlier this year, but immediately saw the space as an opportunity to launch their venture. "It's a prime downtown location," he says, "and Ann Arbor is the best kind of town to open a new restaurant that borders on the experimental fine-dining side."
[Originally published in November, 2012.]