No Dumplings or Pie
Great Shanghai, Grand Traverse shutter.
by Sally Mitani
Great Shanghai in the Westgate Shopping Center closed. "They were at the end of their lease," says co-owner and leasing agent Jim Chaconas. "They were nice people, but they weren't making any money. They were essentially working for free. I reduced the rent a few times, and we still couldn't make it work." Anglos tended to come for the large buffet in back, but the restaurant was known among many Chinese patrons for its excellent steamed dumplings, says Wei Bee (co-owner of Sweetwaters and himself from an area restaurant family). Owner Xiu Li Zhou really was from Shanghai and had left there fairly recently, too. Chaconas said he communicated with her through an interpreter.
Beth Ziegler shrugs when asked why her (and husband David's) second Grand Traverse Pie Company couldn't survive at its E. Liberty location. "We thought it was a unique enough product"--an alternative to all the burgers and subs. "Corporate was excited about it. It does really well in two other college towns, Terre Haute and East Lansing."
Ziegler says their other location, on Zeeb Road in Scio Township, is doing fantastically well. There the clientele is mostly middle-aged women who take full advantage of the combination pie shop/bakery/casual restaurant, coming in for lunch and taking home a pie for dinner, or coming in for a snack and buying a sack of muffins for breakfast.
Lisa Taylor, director of franchise support, wrote to say that Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory closed "due to lease expiration." Also, presumably, because the franchise, on the same block of Liberty where Grand Traverse Pie Company closed weeks before, wasn't selling enough product.
Smoka Hookah closed in late March. Mike, manager of the Rendez Vous Cafe--both businesses are owned by Nizar El Awar--emphasizes that this was the small hookah-selling shop across from the Rendez Vous, not the Smoking Lounge upstairs--a separate business from the cafe, and a place where one can still smoke a hookah.
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[Originally published in May, 2013.]