Three Marketplace Closings
Famous Burger, Stadium Party, & Damon's
by Sally Mitani
Famous Hamburgers closed in February. It opened in Plymouth Courtyard in 2009, a defiant slow food alternative to the Wendy's at the other end of the parking lot (and had the bad luck to open at exactly the same time as Great Plains Burger a block to the north, which had roughly, though not exactly, the same idea: to supply a better, slower burger.)
Famous is a small chain based in Dearborn--all its food is halal, but it tries to make the burger experience as authentic as possible, even offering a bacon cheeseburger made with beef bacon. The menu also covers some basic Middle Eastern bets, with falafel and shawarma. This branch was run by Mike Haider, a relative of the family that founded the first Famous in Beirut. A woman at the Dearborn Famous politely promised to pass a message on to Haider, but he didn't return calls.
By early April, Famous may well be open again as an Indian/Nepalese restaurant called Cardamom. Binod Dhakal, who has worked as a manager at Shalimar, renegotiated the lease and hoped to turn the place over quickly. His preschool-age son, Sunil, spray bottle and wipe cloth in hand, was doing everything in his power to help.
Stadium Party Shoppe closed in February after a twenty-year run. Xavier Tato, a pharmacist who owns the Stadium Pharmacy next store, gives "finances, I imagine," as the reason. Tato is reluctant to speak for his uncle Johnny Georges, who owned the party store, but says the closing was hard on Georges. "I've been here about ten years. It's because my uncle said: 'Hey there's some space next door you should rent.'"
Tato says business at his own store--one of the last independent pharmacies in town--is "great, but you never know. You thank God every day you're open."
A sign posted on the door of Damon's Grill on Boardwalk reads: "Unfortunately, after failed lease negotiations, we have closed our business." It thanked customers for
thirteen years of business and invited them to direct questions or comments to email@example.com. But it didn't promise it would answer them; a March 1 email was unanswered at press time.
AnnArbor.com caught the sudden folding as it was happening and reported that manager Richard Mowara acted quickly to help his employees find jobs in other area restaurants. Damon's is a shrinking chain specializing in ribs. This franchise and the property on which it sits are involved in foreclosure litigation.
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[Originally published in April, 2013.]