When Jolly’s restaurant owners were ready to sell their business after a brief go at serving sandwiches and salads at the Clocktower Commons, it was the right time for Judy Radant and her family to buy. Radant—a lifelong Chelsea resident with a background in culinary arts—and her two sons, Mike and Steve Radant, are co-owners of Ellie’s, which opened in November. They’re serving burgers, grinders, sandwich wraps, salads, and soups for lunch—and planned to add breakfast in the future.
“We’re doing very well, considering we opened at a slower time of year,” Judy says. “Adding hot breakfast should be a good niche since there’s no other sit-down breakfast spot [on] this side of town.”
Ellie’s—named for chef Mike Radant’s three-year-old daughter—offers seating for twenty-two as well as carryout and delivery. All burger meat is ground fresh, and grinder rolls are baked daily. Judy says every effort is made to use fresh local ingredients. She says Mike keeps the menu interesting by introducing new items weekly—dishes like spicy turkey chili and sausage gumbo.
Son Steve, Ellie’s business manager, also works in the computer industry. The two brothers previously teamed up when Mike ran a mobile auto paint shop for several years. After losing half their clients in the economic downturn, they were looking for a new business opportunity together and found it in their mother’s food background. Judy’s a former culinary arts teacher at Saline High School, teaches culinary classes part-time at Washtenaw Community College, and is a board member of Chelsea Community Kitchen.
Judy says she and Gourmet Chocolate Café owner Tom Diab have known each other for years. Diab is letting Ellie’s share his front door and his kitchen, and he even provides overflow seating for Ellie’s customers when needed. The Radants display a rotating collection of local artists’ works on Ellie’s brick walls—as well as a framed photo of the restaurant’s young namesake sporting a chef’s hat.
Ellie’s, 312 North Main, 475–1457. Mon.–Fri. 10:30 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.– 4 p.m. Closed Sunday, with plans to open for breakfast in the future.
“It was like losing an old friend,” says Bob Pierce, executive director of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, about the sudden closing of Pamida—Chelsea’s only discount department store—at the end of last year. The store opened in 1993 in the Chelsea Shopping Center on the city’s south side. A 2008 fire at the center forced the store to close temporarily, and it reopened later that year in a space half its original size.
“They were good corporate citizens and supported many of our events and organizations,” Pierce says. “It was tough news to get.” Pamida corporate headquarters did not return calls for comment, but growing competition in Scio Township may have been a factor: a Meijer opened at Zeeb Rd. and I-94 ten years ago, and there’s a brand-new Tractor Supply at Baker.
Resale Bliss closed its Old US-12 location in February after almost a year “to rethink, regroup, and reorganize,” says director Nancy Harris. She says the organization had outgrown its old space. She hopes to lease a bigger building by spring to house both Resale Bliss and the nonprofit organization it supports, Hearts Community Service.