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Posted on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 11:20 a.m.

Ann Arbor's Papa Romano's to close Saturday due to 'lack of business'

By Lizzy Alfs

Washtenaw County’s only Papa Romano’s pizza franchise, located on Eisenhower Parkway in the Cranbrook Village shopping center in Ann Arbor, plans to close on Saturday after disappointing sales.

Owners Jim and Tony Wampler opened the store in September 2007, but said they simply couldn’t sell enough pizzas in Ann Arbor.

“We are closing for lack of business,” Tony Wampler said. “It’s a combination of everything. The location, and the food market in Ann Arbor is pretty saturated as it is.”

He said the store has a large customer database, but people don’t seem to order pizzas as often as they do at other Papa Romano’s locations.

“In another city, you might see the same customers once or twice a week,” he explained. “We see our customers once every few weeks. Ann Arbor has five times as many places to eat, so it’s tough out here.”

He said they have no plans to open another location in Ann Arbor in the near future.

Tom Goldberg, an owner of the Cranbrook Village shopping center, which is anchored by Whole Foods, said he came to an understanding with the owners about six months ago that the location wasn’t hitting the sale numbers it needed to survive.

“There’s a lot of competition in the pizza space, so we agreed voluntarily to move on from one another,” he said.

Now, he’s marketing the approximately 1,500-square-foot space and has “a ton” of potential applications. He said he’s considering both restaurant and retail users.

“I’d say in the next few months we’ll know who the new tenant is,” he said.

Papa Romano’s was founded in 1970 in Southfield. There are 36 locations in Michigan and one location in Colorado.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Nicole P

Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

Papa Romano's was my favorite place to eat in Ann Arbor. My coworkers and I used to get the salad and breadsticks combo for lunch at least once a week. We're extremely sad to see them go. They had the greatest customer service I've ever received. Mike and the guys were always friendly and warm. I live in Ypsilanti and I'd love to see a Papa Romano's there someday. For now, it seems the closest Papa Romano's is in Westland. :(


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

Alas! Papa R was one of the best offerings in the area. Even my wife, whose influence on our pizza consumption must have been a contributing factor in the demise, liked their pizza. Heavy sighs all around.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 11:19 p.m.

I'm sure the small sign of a baby with pizza on the building next the big Dibellas and Old Country Buffet sign doesn't help sales either. I had to drive up to directly in front of the building to know what it was.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

My kids loved the pizza here, Tony was always incredibly kind and remembered exactly what we would order, the store was clean, the produce was fresh...we simply loved Papa Romano's and are sad to see it go. We'll miss you Tony.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

Bell's Pizza and Anthony's Gourmet are the best pizza places in the area.

James Burns

Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

When business owners choose to ship in construction workers from Grand Rapids,Detroit, etc. to build their restaurants here in Ann Arbor, we tell our members of the Washtenaw County Skilled Building Trades to not patronize these establishments.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 2:49 a.m.

Ha! I misread the title thinking it said "Papa Romanos to close due to lack of flavor"'s tasteless sauce on cardboard... Especially since the superb Bella Italia is literally right across the street in the Colonade -- it serves the best pizza I have tasted outside of NYC where I lived for years and years...and at similar prices to the chains... I hate hate hate when something goes out of business, but even I, someone who orders pizza at least twice a week, deleted them from my pizza links on my computer after one experience with them....


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 12:14 a.m.

Sorry that they have to close, but if you open a pizza place in Ann Arbor, you better be good. Anthony's Gourmet and Cottage Inn and Pizza Bob are just two, no, THREE of the good local pizza places....and there are lots of other good ones.....


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 11:52 p.m.

In any given week, I get at least one flyer from Domino's, Happy's, Little Caesar's, Hungry Howie's, Papa John's, etc, but I've yet to get one from Papa Romano's. A great product is useless if it isn't well-promoted.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

They usually put their coupons in those blue envelopes full of coupons they send out occasionally. I have seen their adverts but it still was not enough incentive to order from there unfortunately


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 10:19 p.m.

We find that Wal Mart has better pizza then Papa Ramonas or anyone for that matter. But in all honesty? That location is a death nell for a lot of struggling businesses. Didn't they have one downtown and it too closed? Papa might do better in Ypsi because more of us eat pizza. Although who knows. This is no surprise to me that they are now gone. Nothing survives that area.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

A few doors down, DiBella's seems to be doing quite well. They're proof that if you offer a product people want, they'll come get it regardless of the location. I have driven all the way from Dexter at lunchtime just to pick up a DiBella's sandwich and bring it back. I certainly wouldn't have done that for Papa Romano's ... or for Potbelly out in front of that complex.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

There was a papa romano's in ann arbor?!?!..who knew


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

I am so sad to see them go. They were my favorite pizza place. I used to go to the location downtown when I was in highschool and was excited when they first opened up. Tony was so nice, he always greeted me by name when I came in the store. Unfortunately, I moved away and wasnt able to frequent it as much as I used to. Tony actually tried some marketing, he worked with the school systems and was on facebook. Best of luck to you Tony! Natalie


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

I agree with Lola. They ruined their pasta salad. They didn't sell ribs and BBQ chicken like they used to off Plymouth & Green. So they were nothing but a pizza place. Better than most other chains, but more expensive too.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

Well that is terrible news.. We get pizza nearly every Friday from them. It was hands down our FAVORITE pizza in AA. I liked Tony and his staff.. he was always nice and had a smile on his face.. this does really stink.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

Damn shame its a damn good pizza ...


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

Sorry to see you go, you have the best pizza in Ann Arbor. We get pizza from you just about every Friday night. The price is good and the pizza is delicious.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

Whatever the reason I hate to see people lose their jobs.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 10:21 p.m.

At least they are guaranteed 99 weeks of unemployment until they find something else to do.

Bruce Madej

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

I agree with Doug. I wish the owners and the employees the best.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

When I am ordering pizza, Whole Foods has a better pizza in the same strip mall. It isn't fast, but I can do a Michigan beer sampling or wine tasting while I wait for my pizza to get cooked. I can also do some items that are not the "normal" pizza items. Things like spinach and wild mushrooms, or artichokes, or asiago cheese.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

Plus a lot less grease and fat content. I find a lot of the fast food pizza joints have a lot of fat calories. Which is why I try to steer clear of these places.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

I've had Papa Romano's pizza from both Ann Arbor and Ypsi. If I can remember correctly the Ann Arbor pie was slightly better than the Ypsi pie, but neither was anything to keep me coming back. As a matter of fact the only pizza that I can't get enough of is Stadium deli pizza (on south Industrial, just south of Colonial lanes). Pretty sad that a hole in the wall party store pizza blows away anything in Washtenaw county in flavor and price.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 3 a.m.

"where is papa romanos in ypsi?" "Sorry, I was thinking about Papa Johns on Washtenaw." I think this might be part of the problem...


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

"where is papa romanos in ypsi?" Sorry, I was thinking about Papa Johns on Washtenaw.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

where is papa romanos in ypsi?


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Let me preface this by saying I've never eaten at the PR in Ann Arbor. I have had the PR product from other restaurants and found it sub-par. Location might have something to do with it, but I think the overall quality is lacking. An earlier comment indicated that their kids loved it - maybe it's aimed at the child's palate?

Jon Wax

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

Sad to see the economy hitting so hard. But on the flip side, some folks just don't have it like that anymore. I made the decision this year to only eat at home. No fast food, no resturaunts. Just cooking for self. Will that cause my favorite coney island to close? i doubt it but then again, who knows. It's not just about the money though thats a large part. It's also about quality. And to be honest, food quality in Ann Arbor resturaunts has been dropping steadily since the 80s. Not sure why, maybe lowered expectations or the increased need to "flip tables" but in any event, someone else can order my share of resturaunt food this year. I'm taking the year off. Peace


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

Sorry to see them go; the kids really like their pizza. We also miss that sandwich/liquor store combo (name has left me??) that used to be in that shopping center, years ago...the best sandwiches. Good luck to the future tenant! BTW, I hope DiBella's continues to do well in that shopping center.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 4:28 a.m.

Thanks, markguy. That's it, Blue Heron Wine Shop.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 3:03 a.m.

Blue Heron. I agree about DiBella's -- very good food. Must be something about that location. I had no idea that DiBella's existed until a few years ago.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

The older I get the less I like pizza. It makes people fat.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

So true so true.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.

I had no idea there was a Papa Romano's in Ann Arbor (before reading this story) since the downtown location closed years ago. A little marketing couldn't have hurt, but their location wasn't too hot, either.

Jojo B

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

Dang, we'll miss you, Tony! We ordered pizza only once every few weeks and loved it, the bambino bread, chicken wings, and the simple and tasty salads. But yeah, we did carry out once every few weeks, not three times a week. That sort of fare isn't good for anybody who wants to lose weight or keep their arteries unclogged.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 10:24 p.m.

Which is why we do a sub chain more so then pizza. You can get a low fat meal thru them.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

So sad to see that they didn't make it. We did love their pizza, subs and salads, and the staff was wonderful.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

What about the little bambinos?


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

Nothing against the employees of the Cranbrook Village location, but like most chains, Papa Romano's serves lousy fare. On the other hand, Bella Italia across the street is the best pizza in town, better even than NYPD.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

"...even better than NYPD." I've always found NYPD's pizza to be pretty awful.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 10:24 p.m.

Can't wait to try the new Italian restaurant opening soon in Ypsilanti.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

We used to go to Papa Romano's a lot before they changed their pasta salad and ruined it.

Jojo B

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

Somewhat related, they used to offer 6 and 12-piece hot wings. I would always get the 6 with bleu cheese. Then they stopped offering the 6, then they stopped offering bleu cheese as well. It's little changes like this that make customers stop coming back.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

Of all the chain pizza places in town, Papa Romanos was consistently the best. And I agree with the other comments about the friendliness of the staff. Every time I went to pick up my pizza (every Michigan home game!) they always struck up a conversation.

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

there is (soon to be was) papa Romanos in a2?!? maybe needed to put $ome money into marketing? ju$t sayin


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 11:16 p.m.

HAHA I said that the other day when I was driving up to go to Dibella's. I thought about going another time since I was already set on a sub. Too late now I suppose

Jojo B

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

All of those fat middle-aged salesmen sucking hard on their cigarettes outside of ABC Warehouse can't be good for any business in that strip mall. That hole area feels junky and old.

Turd Ferguson

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

There's an ABC Warehouse too?


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

It's over next door to ABC Warehouse. Yeah not the best location...

just a voice

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

the proliferation of the $3 and $5 pick up have hurt the delivery business. By my house I can get two $5 pick up pizza's (yah Faz, keeping me from needing to buy corporate pie) and a $3


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

Sorry to see it go. Those guys were really nice. It's understandable that they had a rough time since there are quite a few other pizza choices and others in the immediate vicinity. Good luck to both of you.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

I'm very bummed about this news. I think their pizza is great and the staff are always friendly. They will be missed by my family for sure.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

It might have something to do with the outrageous delivery fee they charged? I know that kept me away many times. Great pizza and bread sticks, but the value just wasn't there.


Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

Come to Ypsi!

Laura J

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

We just got pizza and bread sticks yesterday. This is such a bummer. It' close to our house and the pizza, bread and salad are all fresh and good. Prices are reasonable as well. Sorry to see you go Tony. Laura Deep dish pineapple and ham Bambino bread