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Posted on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Blue Wolf Grill brings fresh fare to fast-food row in Ypsilanti Township

By Tom Perkins


The Blue Wolf Grill in Ypsilanti Township

Tom Perkins | For

The new Blue Wolf Grill is offering diners a fresh option in the middle of a Washtenaw Avenue strip known for fast food and coney islands.

The restaurant, which opened Dec. 13, is focusing on locally sourced, fresh foods and has a menu designed by a well-established local chef. But the Blue Wolf’s owners say they also intend to keep the prices reasonable.

“We’re on a section of the road where there are a lot of fast food chains, diners and other chains, and we’re really into fresh ingredients, local ingredients and we use local distributors,” co-owner Charles Molina said of the location at 2333 Washtenaw Ave. in Ypsilanti Township. “We thought there is a need in the area for a more unique menu and higher quality food.”

For example, Blue Wolf features a variety of Michigan ingredients in its Michigan salad. At $8, it comes with mixed greens, toasted walnuts, dried cherries and crumbled blue cheese. It's served with a raspberry vinaigrette.

The paninis are mostly $8, and the entrees range from $12 to $16. They include items like the apple-brined chicken, which is slow smoked and topped with Michigan cherry sauce.

The Blue Wolf buys its baked goods from the Knickerbocker Baking in Madison Heights, its produce from local distributors, and its meat from Mark’s Quality Meats. The owners say they are working on establishing relationships with local farmers.

Molina said Blue Wolf’s dining room provides an intimate setting, with soft yellow light instead of harsh neon.

“This is the first restaurant that we have done, so we want to keep it simple, keep it small,” Molina said.

Molina co-owns Blue Wolf with his girlfriend, Cheri Jackson. In May 2010, the couple opened We Cater To U, a catering business located right across the street that operates under a similar philosophy. Eventually, We Cater To U will become part of Blue Wolf.

David Young, who was an executive chef for the Michigan League, joined Molina and Jackson in establishing Blue Wolf. The Michigan League provides high-end catering for the University of Michigan community, and Young is part of the creative force in drawing up the concept for the menu and the restaurant's approach to dining.

But can the restaurant survive long-term in a spot where the Al-Noor Middle Eastern restaurant and the Cosmic Garden vegetarian restaurant were unable to survive for more than a few years?

Molina believes so. He pointed out the restaurant's proximity to Washtenaw Community College, Eastern Michigan University and Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital, and said he believes there has been a rebound in the area east of U.S. 23 since the recession hit about five years ago.

“There are 36,000 cars that go past here on a daily basis,” Molina said. “There are some great Ann Arbor restaurants right down the street, but there are a lot of people in Ypsilanti who appreciate fresh food, have a sophisticated palate, want something unique, something different and fresh. And that’s an absence that we’re filling in.”

Together with We Cater To U, Molina and Jackson employ about 15 people regularly, and more than twice that number are kept on-call to help them cater larger events.



Sun, Dec 23, 2012 : 4:16 a.m.

Colby - You're probably right. I'm sure they are relying on the catering to balance it out.


Sat, Dec 22, 2012 : 11:06 p.m.

Doesn't seem that there would be enough seating in there to make a restaurant based on dining in successful.....


Sat, Dec 22, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

I was also a little dubious about the location but after eating there, I think it might just survive that ill-fated stretch of Washtenaw. For the quality of food, the menu is actually very reasonably priced, even if doesn't quite jive with the ambiance. And for folks like myself who don't really care to deal with Ann Arbor parking in order to get good food, it's a very welcomed addition to the local Ypsi food scene.


Sat, Dec 22, 2012 : 4:35 a.m.

Very good food but kinda pricey!!


Sat, Dec 22, 2012 : 12:21 a.m.

To me, if you want me to come to a new restaurant, you need to remodel the location. Just because there's a fresh coat of paint on the outside, the aesthetics really clue me into how the business will do.

Ann English

Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

If it weren't so close to the Fat Philly Burger, I might have seen it today. From the comments on the Fat Philly Burger's closing, I took it that just the north side of Washtenaw Avenue was substandard in appearance. With these comments about the Blue Wold Grill, apparently the south side of this part of Washtenaw Avenue isn't any more inviting than the north for business. But unlike the north side, the south side has a lot of houses behind it, on paved roads that take you to other roads, not like the short dead-end roads on the north side. I know, with the university and hospital on that side, it isn't residential-friendly.


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 6:21 p.m.

We stopped in on Tuesday night and were surprised to see the place about 80% full. My wife and I found the food to be extremely good (we both had the day's mushroom soup, then she had a Michigan salad and I had the butternut squash ravioli). The staff was friendly and helpful. For the portion sizes and the quality, I have no issues at all with the prices. Granted, I've never been wild about the rather tight parking lot there, but for more meals like I had the other night, I'll definitely overlook that minor annoyance.


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

Bring it over to Dexter!


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

I'm a little surprised that people think it's too pricey for this location. It is more expensive than what we have around here but I don't think that means it will fail. I think there are a lot of people in Ypsi, of which I'm one) that go into Ann Arbor for this sort of thing and are willing to spend the money. I'd also like to support businesses in my own city! I look forward to having something different in Ypsi for a change. I hope it survives!


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

We Cater to U catered our wedding in October. People raved about our food. We LOVED it. We were thrilled to hear they were opening a restaurant and we'd be able to have their meals more often. My husband and I were able to come out for lunch on Sunday, again, we LOVED it! Their food is fabulous! We plan on going regularly. My daughter and I are going tonight. They are GREAT people that serve GREAT food and we wish them all the best!!


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

Pita Pita proved you can make it on that strip if you have good food at a reasonable price

Atticus F.

Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

Will they be serving alcohol? I'm also wondering about the menu. Is it going to be a home spun version of Panera bread? Or is it going to be a place that you sit down, take a date, have a beer with dinner, ect.. I dont mean to be pessimistic, but from what I've heard of the menu (panini, greens with dried cherry and walnuts) it seems like the type of 'mid level bar food' that was popular 10 years ago, during the panini craze of 2003 (a culinary disaster in my oppinion).


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

Good luck in that old Taco Bell building. I knew someone who opened Cosmic Garden there about 8 years ago. Needless to say they only lasted about 6 months, yes their food sucked but that location sealed their fate!


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

That building design still screams "Taco Bell".


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

Those prices are WAY WAY too high for that area....sorry to be a downer like that, but the truth is usually ugly and painful. Those are VERY reasonable prices too for a locally sourced restaurant, which really sucks because what their doing sounds a lot like my own little idea. I really hope they succeed...but I don't think it'll happen at those prices in THAT location. If they were a lot closer to downtown A2 I think they'd do much better because they'd be in a better demographic for what they're offering. I'm wondering if they took that location because of the price (I'm sure it was offered rather cheap because of that location's track record).


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

Now what on earth did I say that was a violation ? I simply agreed with Billy.No insults not even anything that could have been taken as a insult to anyone.I basically just repeated what Billy said.These deletions are really getting nutsy


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

There are a lot of things to like on this strip of restaurants, particularly ethnic spots. This sounds like a good concept but agree the price point is high.


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

I love their look.... be there soon to test their taste. Best Wishes!


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

My husband and I ate there the other day, tasty food and friendly staff. We wish the success!


Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 12:01 p.m.

I wish them all the best, but this area doesn't have a good track record with restaurants offering $8 salads and $16 entrees. Hopefully they can prove history wrong.