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Ann Arbor Weather:
Thursday January 18, 2018
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Terry B's Sold

 

continued

O'Brien knows his market. He grew up in Dexter and lives there with wife, Nicole, son, Miles (nine), and daughter, McKenna (six). And he clearly understands food service: when he bought the A&W in 2010, he says, he transformed it "from an average restaurant ... to the twenty-fourth highest-volume location in the nation" (out of 642) and "the number two seasonal A&W in the nation." O'Brien's lodestar is "good value for hard-earned money and superior, friendly service."

Does he know yet how to translate that to a place that takes reservations and has a sommelier? "Nope, it's all brand new to me," he laughs. "I still feel very green." With the return of chef Adam Boonstra and manager/sommelier Chad Roe, he has the fine-dining end pretty well nailed, but, he adds, "we'd like to be considered an everyday dinner place as well," he says, where people can stop in for a burger, fish and chips, a bowl of soup.

Miles and McKenna are consulting on the kids' menu, which currently features burgers, mac and cheese, and grilled chicken. O'Brien brought the kids into the interview, and, when pressed, they shyly added that their own favorites include pasta with pesto, spaghetti and meatballs, kale chips, Brussels sprouts, and carrots. Then they scampered off to play in the "grotto" downstairs. (You can too--see below.)

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