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Ophir Crafts in Westgate, Ann Arbor, MI August 2013

Seva Moves to Westgate

Ophir Crafts joins it there.

by Sally Mitani

From the August, 2013 issue

Maren and Jeff Jackson have finally found a home for Seva in the Westgate Shopping Center: their lease in the old VFW hall on Liberty was up in 2012, and they've been searching for a new spot since.

The vegetarian restaurant was founded by Steve Bellock in 1973, at what was then a crossroads for Ann Arbor's counterculture. The Sun Bakery, which started on Maynard, moved in across the street a few years later, and in 1982, Herb David joined the block. Maren (who used to work at Seva) and Jeff Jackson bought the business in the early 1990s.

Jim Chaconas, who co-owns and leases Westgate, says that he's happy to have Seva, which will open in the former Shanghai Express near the end of the year. And, he suggests, Seva should be equally happy to have Westgate: "Westgate is never vacant. We turned down four national stores. We want local people in there." He claims that Zingerman's Roadhouse, in the center's parking lot, is the highest grossing restaurant in Ann Arbor. "I know the numbers. I can't give them to you, but I also know most of Main Street's numbers and a lot of the chains'."

Ophir Crafts hopes to open at Westgate in August between Old Siam and the west branch of the AADL. (If you're wondering what space that is, last year, Old Siam quietly downsized, creating a new storefront.)

Kate Ernsting says her store will sell "non-manufactured gifts, like Amish woodcraft, and fiber arts like knitting, crocheting, felting, rug hooking. We will be bringing in local crafters--the way Shaman Drum use to bring in local writers? We'll be teaching classes in spinning." Yes, that kind of spinning, not the bicycle kind.

"Ophir," she explains was "the El Dorado of the ancient world. Around the time of King Solomon it was a place where you could get the best items, but no one knows where it was." She says she's heard various pronunciations, but she's going with the one the trips most easily off the Midwestern tongue: "OH-fur."     (end of article)

[Originally published in August, 2013.]


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