November 18, 2021

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This Week

Last Sunday, I joined fifty-five other coffee lovers upstairs at Zingerman’s Deli, for a taste test of a new variety that Zingerman’s is growing in Brazil. We were the first in-person class to be held at the Deli since March 2020. 

Coffee tasting at Zingerman's. Photo Credit: Micheline Maynard

A number of other Ann Arbor food shops and restaurants also have resumed offering in-person classes. Hyperion Coffee, which we featured in last week’s a2view, is introducing Big Red, a specialty blend, at a class on Friday. Check the events calendars and social media of your favorite food places to see which classes are taking place (some may be virtual as well).

Micki Maynard, editor 

The News...Briefly

No AAPS next week: The Ann Arbor Public Schools canceled classes next Monday and Tuesday as a Covid mitigation effort, AAPS superintendent Jeanice Swift announced Wednesday night. The step means there will be no classes next week, since schools were already set to be closed Wednesday through Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. In an email, Swift said there has been a spike in Covid cases since last Friday, affecting staff and contractors across a number of school buildings. “I understand this week-before notice will pose some challenges for some of our families, and I sincerely apologize for this situation,” Swift wrote.

Chart courtesy of WCHD

Covid cases rising: The Washtenaw County Health Department reported 170 new Covid cases on Wednesday, with seven hospitalizations and one death. The county’s positivity rate for the week ending November 15 was 7.8 percent, according to MI Safe Start. But cases are rising, both countywide and statewide. “Things are definitely trending in the wrong direction here and elsewhere,” the health department’s Susan Ringler-Cerniglia tells the Observer. “What’s concerning is the continued trend upward, as cold weather and the holidays approach.” 

The county urges residents to get vaccinated or a booster shot and use multiple precautions to slow or prevent spread as much as possible, such as masks, social distancing, ventilation, hand cleaning, and isolation or quarantine as required. “Nothing is 100% effective and layering up provides the best protection for everyone,” Ringerl-Cerniglia says.

Go Blue flu: The flu outbreak on U-M’s campus, which we reported on last month, has caught the attention of the Centers for Disease Control. It sent a team to campus to investigate the large and sudden increase in cases. Since October 6, 528 students have been diagnosed.

Vaughn to run for Regent: Former U-M football player Jon Vaughn, who says he was abused by the late Dr. Robert Anderson, plans to run for the U-M Board of Regents, the Detroit Free Press reports. Vaughn has been camping outside the home of U-M president Mark Schlissel, pushing for stronger policies to combat sexual assault.

U-M begins provost search: U-M has launched its formal search for a new provost, replacing Martin Philbert, who resigned in 2020 after an investigation supported sexual harassment complaints. Ford School dean Susan Collins has filled the job on an interim basis. It is a powerful job at the university, as I wrote for Michigan Alum magazine.

Comeback commencement: U-M will welcome graduates from the Class of 2020 for a “comeback commencement” next May. “It's our goal to make this a truly memorable day for our 2020 graduates and everyone who supported them along the way,” the university said. Find details and register at this website.

Liberty Plaza crime: A recent stabbing in Liberty Plaza may prompt Ann Arbor SPARK to hire private security for the city -wned park, MLive reports (subscription required). Police chief Mike Cox “confirmed aggravated assaults are up and there have been multiple stabbings since last year.” A man has been arrested in the latest incident.

Menstrual products: Ann Arbor will require tampons and sanitary pads in all public restrooms, MLive reported (subscription required). City council approved a new local ordinance that could be the first in the nation.

Ann Arbor to Traverse City train: A long-discussed train between Ann Arbor and Traverse City may be back on track, 9&10 News reports. Advocates have applied for a $700,000 grant to pay for a feasibility study, and there’s hope for its funding through President Biden’s trillion-dollar infrastructure bill.

No Kerrytown Kindlefest: The popular Kerrytown Kindlefest has been canceled for the second year in a row. “The current situation for all the local business owners doesn't allow us enough resources to host and coordinate everything that is required to have a successful Kindlefest event,” the Kerrytown District Association board announced on its website. They plan to be back in 2022.

Watch out for deer: The Washtenaw County Road Commission warns motorists to watch out for more deer activity. In a Facebook post, it gave instructions on how to report dead deer if you spot them on a traveled roadway.

What are you thankful for? There’s still time to enter the Observer’s Thankfulness contest. Leave a comment on one of our social media pages (see the buttons below), or reply to this newsletter. We will make a $100 donation to the winner’s charity of choice, and publish the winning message in next week’s issue. Need inspiration? Tammie Gilfoyle, owner of Dexter’s Tamchop Farm, says she’s grateful for “a community that fosters friendship through food (growing and eating) and our shared love of dogs.”

Ask a2view

Q: What is the future of Mallek’s Service? 

A: Although owner John Mendler died last month, the staff at Mallek’s Service tells the Observer that the station plans to remain open. It was bustling this week with customers buying gas, putting air in their tires, and getting repairs. Mendler’s friends plan to hold a memorial gathering on December 4 from noon-3 p.m., in the triangle where Huron divides into Jackson and Dexter, says Mark Hodesh, former owner of Downtown Home & Garden. “It will be a big turnout of people who appreciated him for understanding how important it was to keep the transportation of working people on the road and to do so with unquestionable honesty,” Hodesh emails. Meanwhile, neighbor Sandor Slomovits offers this tribute to Mendler. 

Marketplace Changes

This hand painted cherry blossom mural inside Bambu reflects the Japanese heritage of owner Emily Shinohara and her family. Photo Credit: Micheline Maynard

Bambu opens: Bambu, a new dessert and beverage cafe, has opened on Washtenaw Ave. in TCBY’s old spot. A small chain based in California, Bambu specializes in che, which are layered fruit desserts popular in Vietnam. It also has boba drinks, Vietnamese coffee, macarons, and mochi ice cream treats. Franchise owner Emily Shinohara discovered Bambu during a West Coast vacation several years ago. The pandemic prompted her to quit her auto supplier position and become a cafe owner, even though she’d never worked in culinary before. 

Loomi is closing: Loomi will close its Kerrytown lunch counter at the end of the year, owner Andrew Stevick tells the Observer. Loomi—named for a method of preserving citrus—started as a food cart in the Farmers Market in 2018, then moved inside to sell a menu featuring Mediterranean, Asian, and South American dishes.

Collected Works will close. A block away, Collective Works will close after the holidays, owner Irene Patalan told customers in an email. The shop, which specializes in artful clothing and accessories, has been open for forty-four years in various locations, including the last twenty years on Detroit St. Patalan hasn’t set a specific end date, but says she won’t order new merchandise after the fall/winter season.

Arbor Springs is sold. Arbor Springs Water closed its Ann Arbor bottling facility earlier this month. The company, owned by the Davis family, was sold to Absopure Water Company in Plymouth, says Spencer Davis. About seven Arbor Springs employees now work for the new owners. “Arbor Springs and Absopure have competed, respectfully, for a long time,” Davis said in an announcement. “We know their commitment to their customers and know you will be in good hands.” 

Restaurants searching: Ann Arbor area restaurants are desperate for workers, Cynthia Furlong Reynolds reports in the November Observer. The acute shortage has forced most independently owned restaurants to close at least one day a week, adjust hours, delay orders, and recruit family members to work in kitchens and at hostess stations. Some are increasing incentives to attract and retain employees.

Things to Do

By Ella Bourland

18 Thursday: Watch U-M Center for World Performance Studies artist-in-residence Jen Shyu, a composer and multi-instrumentalist, present her new monodrama, “Zero Grasses,” which weaves together music, monologue, and video production to explore experiences of expectation, ambition, longing, and love. The work features original music, as well as traditional music from Taiwan, Tetum of East Timor, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia. 7:30 p.m., Keene Theater, East Quad, 701 East University. Free, but space is limited so arrive early if you can. Masks and proof of vaccination required.

19 Friday: Attend the opening reception of Catch Us While You Can! (November 19-December 24), a pop-up gallery and holiday gift market on Main St. With ceramics, photography, functional wood working, and fiber art, as well as written word, poetry, and art books by local artists. Tonight only, musical performances by Cheryl Dawdy (best known as one of the Chenille Sisters) and others. 7-9 p.m., 210 S. Main (former Peaceable Kingdom store). Free admission.

20 Saturday: Play improv games, then watch area groups perform at Ann Arbor Civic Theatre’s Civic Improv jam and show. 6-9:30 p.m., Civic Theatre, 322 W. Ann St. For the participatory jam, pay what you can; for the show, $15 at the door only. Proof of vaccinations and masks required.

See the Observer’s online calendar for many more local events. 

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