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Kitchen manager Hillary Uldricks and general manager Renee Stallings

Trendy Brunch on the South Side

Anna's reflects a generational shift.

by Sabine Bickford

Published in May, 2019

Retro-trendy Michigan breakfast-and-lunch chain Anna's House opened in Concord Center on Eisenhower in early April, replacing Max & Erma's dark decor with chic airy pastels.

So who is Anna? The first Anna's House, which opened in Plainfield in 2003, was named after a friend of founder Becky Miller. Today, "we kind of view Anna as our most popular guest," says the company's strategic marketing director, Evan Pazkowski. Pointing to the large mural of a grinning young woman carrying a tray of drinks outside Michigan Stadium, he elaborates: "She's in her late twenties, early thirties, hip, trendy, likes to diet, likes to exercise." General manager Renee Stallings says "something we like to say when people ask is, We are Anna ... we've got that on our shirts."

Young, hip Annas would certainly feel comfortable in the cheerful, Instagram-ready Fifties atmosphere, and millennials will find plenty of gluten-free options and a separate vegan menu. But on opening day, a solid mix of families and older couples joined the younger professionals and college kids. For those who raise an eyebrow at the "vegan chocolate quinoa breakfast bowl," Anna's offers hearty traditional classics like eggs and corned beef hash, and indulgent treats like the "twilight French toast"--a square of baked French bread in a creme brulee sauce, drizzled in raspberry sauce and topped with fresh fruit. "The further you go through the menu, the more traditional it gets," says Pazkowski.

The restaurant's south-side mall-adjacent location may also have something to do with the diversity of its patrons. "We try to position ourselves outside of the downtown area, because we never want to compete with mom-and-pop or boutique shops," says Pazkowski. "Six out of eight of our locations are near a shopping center or a mall." Outside downtown also means plenty of parking, a major consideration for many would-be brunch-goers.

Josh Beckett, general manager at the first Anna's House, bought the business in 2005. The original location had a more traditional menu,

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but when Beckett was diagnosed with diabetes, he began to add healthier options. The result is a win-win for families and friend-groups whose members might otherwise have difficulty finding a brunch option with something for everyone.

After six months of renovations, Anna's sunny 5,000-square-foot space has little beyond the exterior walls in common with Max & Erma's. "We knocked down the walls and brightened it up," says Pazkowski. Forest-green paint and dark woods have been replaced with a white color base accented with shades of aqua and lime. Retro Fifties blenders and faux pay phones on the walls add to the vibe. A small breakfast bar serves up kombucha and draft soda.

The restaurant fills up quickly, especially on weekends, but diners can enter a "virtual line" using the Yelp app if they are nearby: the modern version of the buzzing pager. Or, if you'd rather wait at home, Anna's offers delivery through DoorDash.

Anna's House, 445 W. Eisenhower Pkwy #1. (734) 726-9490. Daily 6 a.m.-3 p.m.     (end of article)

[Originally published in May, 2019.]


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