Sam Argiero closed Argiero’s Italian Restaurant on Mother’s Day. The timing was fitting: in 1978, the Observer described his late mother, Rosa, as the restaurant’s “chief cook and principal presence.” “I just thought Mother’s Day would be ideal,” he says.
Rosa met Tony Argiero when he was visiting his mother in the small southern Italian village of Castelsilano. They married in 1960 and opened Argiero’s in a building Tony owned at Detroit St. and Catherine in 1977. Their four children bought the business in 1985, but the restaurant spent its last days under Sam’s ownership. Rosa passed away in 2013, Tony in 2016.
Argiero’s (often locally mispronounced to rhyme with Cheerios) billed itself as the only Italian restaurant in Ann Arbor run by an Italian family. It was across the street from the Observer during our twenty-one years at 201 Catherine, and we’re sad to see them go; Sam told a group of Observerites who stopped in before the closing he feels the same: “I’m going to miss my customers.” The building was sold last fall to Wickfield Properties at a price Sam describes as “too good to refuse,” but he has retained ownership of the name, leaving open the possibility for another Argiero’s somewhere down the road. “I never realized how many people’s lives we touched over the years,” says Sam.
The building won’t be idle long: Phillis Engelbert has rented it as a third location for her busy vegan restaurant The Lunch Room. She hopes to open the Detroit St. Filling Station later this summer.
Old Carolina Barbecue Company in Cranbrook Village closed abruptly in April. The restaurant, which opened in March 2014, was the first Michigan franchise for a small Ohio-based chain.
“We served a wonderful product in a wonderful environment,” says franchisee Nick Ferris, “we just couldn’t get it to self-sustain.” Ferris says he is continuing to work with partners to fulfill the restaurant’s catering commitments.
On Your Left Bikes and Shades of Green Artisan Merchandise left their shared Burns Park location on Prospect St. at the end of March. “It was very, very unexpected,” says Luciana Lampert, who owns the businesses with life partner Paul Meyer.
Things were going well, Lampert says, but the building was sold for student housing. They plan to reopen by June in their Ypsilanti home. Meyer will pick up and deliver bikes in Ann Arbor and Ypsi, and they’ll also visit local farmers’ markets.
from Calls & Letters, August 2017
Our June Marketplace Changes item on the Lunch Room’s planned expansion into the former Argiero’s Restauant described Phillis Engelbert as its owner. She reminded us that she’s actually co-owner of the fast-growing vegan enterprise: she and Joel Panozzo hope to open the Detroit St. Filling Station by the end of the summer.