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Restaurant reviews and food news from Ann Arbor Observer reviewers M.B. Lewis and Lee Lawrence, and assorted opinionated Ann Arborites.


Archives for October, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Touring Zingerman's Annex, by Vickie Elmer

Zingerman's Annex, October, 2012. Photo by Mark Loeb.

Paul Saginaw stops painting outside the new part of Zingerman's Delicatessan, leaving the rich burgundy paint spread about two-thirds of the way across the wooden front door.

He's about to show off a bigger spread: the Deli's new "Annex," budgeted at $6.7 million, is opening soon. The 10,400 square foot addition sits behind the original deli on the corner of Detroit and Kingsley, and will take over as the place where Zingerman's famous sandwiches are made.

On Saturday October 20, the Annex looked nearly complete, painted in mossy greens and pumpkin pie and fall tones, a palate chosen by Saginaw's wife, Lori. Signs for Thanksgiving and holiday foods already hung near four check-out stations, double the number in the current deli. Staffers will take orders on iPads. "We've been working on it for a year," Saginaw said, though two men who were tinkering with some Apple tablets and other tools noted that they started programming them in July.

The kitchen is huge, gleaming--and about 10 times as big as the original next door. And there's another one in the basement, which Saginaw said will be used mostly for catering, along with a huge walk-in cooler and an electrical panel that looks like it could power a Google office. So far, Zingerman's staff has used the new kitchens mainly for prep work, carrying trays of sliced tomatoes and peppers over to the original building. They're operating under a 90-day temporary certificate of occupancy.

Nancy Rucker, Zingerman's facilities manager, has called it "the sandwich line of our dreams."

"We have no real opening date," Saginaw said, because of all the last minute inspections, details and equipment deliveries. But he hoped it might be as early as Monday, Oct. 29, after a week of "test-run" orders from family and friends.

Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig founded Zingerman's 30 years ago, and have created a "family of companies" that make and sell candies, cheeses, cookies and bagels, business training and books.

But the Deli is the heart of the enterprises, the mecca where people line up before U-M football games and to celebrate birthdays and out-of-town visitors. The original building dates back to 1902, when it was Disderide's Grocery. The deli expanded before--in 1985, when a pie shaped wedge was added on for the sandwich line and 1991, when the Next Door coffee and dessert shop opened. (see http://www.zingermansdeli.com/deli-history-timeline )

Its new building has concrete stairs and floors and three dining areas. The small one downstairs has with two garage doors that can be opened during nicer weather; a very large long one upstairs; and a wooden planked balcony eating area that overlooks Detroit Street.

The original deli building will revert to its origins as a grocery, now selling fancy foods from around the world. While the cheeses, olive oils and other delicacies will stay, the salad and drink cases will move to the new space.

One part that won't be completed by opening is the atrium that connects the original deli to the annex. The work requires some excavation and that will be finished by early next year, Saginaw said.

Asked about the biggest surprise during the expansion, Saginaw answered "It took a long, long time."

The paint colors--which, he noted, were purchased at Anderson's-- are called Winding Vines, Strawberry Fields, and Carmel Latte. The front door was painted a dark red, Saginaw noted, so staff could tell customers to "go to the red door" for a delivery pickup.

So why is he wielding a paintbrush? "I'm trying to keep it within budget," he said.

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Photo by Mark Loeb


posted by John Hilton at 11:18 a.m. | 0 comments


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