Gladys Ponce opened Burrito Borimex on South State last summer under difficult circumstances. Several restaurants had failed there already, and South State was being resurfaced. She closed December 2. After State Street was repaired, she says, “for awhile things were going well, but when the days began to get shorter, it was too dark. People thought it was closed.” The “Burrito” part of the restaurant’s name was clear enough, and most of the menu was familiar Mexican standards; the “Bori” part was a tip that this was Ann Arbor’s first Puerto Rican restaurant—boricua is the indigenous people’s word for Puerto Rican. Unfortunately, Ponce says, there are very few Puerto Ricans in Ann Arbor, and she failed to find enough converts to the cuisine.
Yoshi’s, the Middle Eastern restaurant that finally opened last summer after a protracted battle with city inspectors, closed around the end of December. Though Ann Arbor has other Middle Eastern restaurants, this one, owned by Yasir (“Yoshi”) Kaskorkis, was the only Chaldean one. As Observer restaurant critic Bix Engels put it in her October review, “Think Lebanese with a touch of Indian.”
Karl Lagler, owner of Antelope Antiques downstairs, says that “after Christmas, they pretty much didn’t show up anymore.” He says that the complex eighteen-month renovation “burned up all their cash reserves.” What with the familiar Jerusalem Garden on the next block, the competition was fierce. “There just wasn’t enough traffic,” Lagler says, adding, “I’m really going to miss their potato curry soup.”
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