Nick Costos, who opened Mr. Greek’s Coney in 1995 on State Street and operated it for eleven years, boasts that he knows the secret to running a successful restaurant in this restaurant-saturated town. Get out your pencils: “Number one, quality is all. And customer service–that is the number one thing. Wait a minute, I guess something has to be number two. But no, they’re both number one.”
At his new restaurant Grillcheezerie, he says, “I wanted to do something simple, something everybody grew up on, but obviously we’ve stepped it up. I’m not using Wonder Bread and American cheese here.” Costos is back from Montreal, where he’s been living since 2006. “All that old charm of Montreal, the wood, the cheeses. I guess it influenced me.”
“Kids”–by which he means college students–“are of course loving the mac and cheese,” both by itself, or grilled between two slices of bread. But he’s also grilling more serious, artisanal sandwiches that make use of goat cheese, Gouda, caramelized onion, wild mushrooms, arugula, and so forth. “I’m really hoping delivery takes off”–sandwiches stay hot and pristine in strong pizza-type boxes, though there’s a counter and half a dozen tables for dining in.
Costos originally announced he’d be open until 4 a.m. but quickly decided the ultra-late night shift wasn’t worth it. “You get kids hanging on things, breaking things; I’m like, ‘Hey, can you leave that stuff alone?’ One a.m. is plenty late–if you want a good grilled cheese sandwich, get in here before then.”
Grillcheezerie, 709 Packard, 368-7229. Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-1 a.m. grillcheezerie.com
Grillcheezerie is part of an entire block of redevelopment. The Blue Front lost a few decades’ worth of grime and resurfaced under new ownership (Adam Gottschalk and Anne-Catherine Dargis) as an elegant craft beer and wine store. “We’ve got close to 650 kinds of beer and 150 wines. And that’s pretty much it,” he says, except for a few soft drinks, candy bars, and chips. They’re only there because “Michigan won’t license stores that sell only beer and wine, so I’m technically a convenience store” and under legal obligation to carry a few nonalcoholic items.
On the other side of Grillcheezerie is Ann Arbor’s latest Biggby Coffee franchise. Who owns it? “I don’t believe I’m authorized to give out that information,” a counter person replied.
Ed Vielmetti cracked the mystery–he says this is a relocation of Jeannine Mickeleit’s Courtyard Shops Biggby, pointing out that it has the same phone number. (Media-shy Mickeleit also owns a W. Stadium Biggby, and last time we were in there asking about neighborhood changes she asked–none too politely–if we’d leave her and her staff alone.) Vielmetti’s A2B3 group is always on the lookout for hangouts, and his lively listserv is often the canary in the coal mine for restaurant openings and closings.
Blue Front, 701 Packard, 929-4618. Mon.-Sat. noon-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. bluefrontannarbor.com
Biggby, 709 Packard Suite B, 222-7030. Mon.-Sat. 6 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.-9 p.m. biggby.com