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Posted on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Damon's Grill near Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor closing Sunday

By Ben Freed

Damon’s Grill’s Ann Arbor location, at 3150 Boardwalk Dr. near Briarwood Mall, will close Sunday after regular business hours, manager Richard Morawa said.

Mowara said he only learned the restaurant would be closing late Tuesday night and informed his staff on Thursday after spending a day visiting other restaurants around Ann Arbor.


The Damon's Grill location in Ann Arbor will close Sunday night. file photo

“Our main goal is to make sure they are taken care of,” he said.

“We took Wednesday to plan and I went out to a lot of restaurants in town and talked to managers to find out who else was hiring and picking up applications to help our employees find other jobs once we shut down.

There are roughly 50 employees at Damon’s who will be affected by the closing. Mowara said he was encouraging them to get the word out about the closing via social media and that he would be helping them find new jobs at other restaurants in Ann Arbor.

Morawa declined to comment on why the store was closing and did not want to speculate on his own future past Sunday. He also said the future of the memorabilia displayed throughout the restaurant was uncertain.

“That's above my pay grade," he said.

"Right now I’m just focused on trying to get jobs for the people who have been working here and trying to make sure we have a good last couple of days."

Damon’s lists 14 locations in 9 states on their website. According to the chain’s Wikipedia page, there were once 45 franchises across the Midwest. The restaurant was listed in a 2010 Forbes article on the fastest shrinking casual dining restaurant chains.

The article cited checks in excess of $20 and the cost of the large footprints required for the franchises as possible reasons for their closings. Damon's often have enough seating for more than 200 people and feature large screen TVs in a "clubhouse" in addition to a regular dining room.

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Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

i was suprised when they closed the one in Kazoo some years ago, it was pretty good back in my college days. Went to one a couple years ago... not really surpised they are closing. The food was marginal at best.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:47 p.m.

Bombay Bicycle Club Part Deux.

David Cahill

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

Darn! I liked Damon's. They had great French Dip sandwiches.

Rick m

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

Maybe it was the really slow, crappy service, or the very marginal food.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

Damon's is packed on weekends and quite busy on weeknights. I can't understand why this location would be shut down. The "$20 checks" thing mentioned in the article is confusing. The Forbes article, linked, said "A lot of $20-plus checks, high for the casual dining sector, plus the expenses of large locations seating 200 or more." Perhaps the reason for the $20+ tabs is that it's also a bar, and people don't just order food? There aren't many items over $20 on the menu, and plenty around $10.

sandy schopbach

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

Mr. Morawa should be praised for his efforts. That Damon's would have put him in such an untenable situation: two days notice for his staff, while they were safely out of hearing distance, 50 employees to try to "relocate". That'rs laudable. Many would just have been angry and done nothing. I hope those employees find new jobs that will enable them to live at least at the same level as they were. But Mr. Morawa, you have proven yourself to be a good person.

Linda Peck

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:23 p.m.

I am so impressed with Mr. Morawa! What a fabulous thing to do, go out and get applications for the workers who will need their next job. You are tops, Mr. Morawa!


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

What the heck does "The article cited checks in excess of $20" mean?

Robert Granville

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

Other restaurants that target that same customer do so at lower cost.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

Doesn't it seem like you'd want $20+ tabs for single diners, or is that considered too low for the size of the restaurant? I'm still a little confused by this as well


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:32 p.m.

@ seldon: I read the explanation in Forbes and still don't understand. Damon's is a bar, as well as restaurant, so drinks mean that plenty of people end up with $20 tabs.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

It's from Forbes and reads, "A lot of $20-plus checks, high for the casual dining sector, plus the expenses of large locations seating 200 or more. Heavy concentration in the Midwest."

Steve Hendel

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

As a guess, they were too expensive for what you got.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

Noooo! This was the real dollar store (on Thursdays).


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

I hope many of the local restaurants do offer jobs to the Damon's staff. Lots of good, experienced people there. Me? I'll be someplace else, crying in my beer.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

I ate there once. It was terrible. I have passed on eating there at every opportunity since. I do not know anyone who actually got sick eating there... but I was sure it was going to happen each time. The only benefit was that they were so short staffed, they never noticed when I parked there all day while at Wolverine Tower for training. Tons of people do it... I even parked there, went to class and then walked past it to go to Seoul Garden for lunch. (would have even eaten at Wendy's instead of Damons if given the choice)


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

We ate there once or twice years ago. But because of the prices and a baby at the time, wasn't worth the fuss. This is in a area that will be hard to use as a restaurant. Good luck to the employees finding a job.

Ben Freed

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

Fun personal story from Damon's: My little sister chipped her tooth at the restaurant while participating in a "kids night" event a number of years ago. She was searching for the hard candy in a "pie" of flour and was a little too competitive about it... This is not a dig at the restaurant, I've always enjoyed going there and went back often after, just an amusing anecdote.

UM owns

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

What "conversation guideline" did I violate? I've read over the list, and it seems like my question regarding compensation is valid.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

Great food and atmosphere there....unfortunately EVERY time I went in there they were dead. I think it was just a bad location for them. If they had more frontage along the road I think they would have done better. That lone sign wasn't good enough.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

Sad to hear -- go there once a week at least to grab dinner and play an hour of video trivia... Ah well...not surprised, since it always had diners, but never had a crowd...


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:28 p.m.

It's a good location actually, being close to I-94 and a lot of hotels. So, some other restaurant will probably move in there.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

I never enjoyed the food, but I hope everyone lands on their feet. It's rough losing a job. Am i the only person not excited about CF? My one and only experience was so disappointing and underwhelming I actually cried.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

Wow. thumbs downing my experience, which is all I've relayed here. Right on.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

I couldn't believe how expensive it was for such mediocre food. I kept thinking "it's going to get better when I eat the cheesecake" and it just didn't. Everything was gluttonous size. Second most disappointing restaurant experience of my life.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

I've NEVER understood why people get excited about the prospect of dining at a chain restaurant. They all serve pre-made, re-heated garbage.

Catherine Bosma

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

I"m not a fan of Cheesecake Factory. Heavy huge plates and too much $$


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

I agree with you about CF. It is always listed as one of the worst restaurants on "Eat This Not That" for large portions of high calorie, high fat food. They have a few lower calorie options on their menu now, but not enough for me to eat there.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:19 p.m.

Location! It's the location.

Robert Granville

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

Probably. I often wonder how anything along that stretch stays open. Most of the businesses can only be reached from one side of state street.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:19 p.m.

The Cheesecake Factory restaurant is being located at Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, and will be its first Michigan location. I agree, a Cheesecake Factory would be great for Ann Arbor. But I too will miss Damon's. Who can remember back when it was the Bombay Bicycle Club?

Tyrone Shoelaces

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:22 p.m.

Bombay Bicycle Club. Thursday. Big hair night.

Denise Anderson

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:25 p.m.

I liked the BBC when it was there, years ago...

Basic Bob

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:50 p.m.

I remember it back around 1992. One of the highlights on the drive from Marshall to Cleveland.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:26 p.m.

I remember. Had a few good times at the old BBC.

Stephen Landes

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

I remember the Bombay Bicycle Club -- loved that place and had many nice dinners and meetings there. It was home base for our Ann Arbor Sherlock Holmes Society.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

I hope the employees find other jobs before too long. It's great that the employer is trying to help. Ate their once. Thought the food was below average.

Clinton Resident

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

I love the steak salad they offer. It is not a place I visit often. To large and did not care for the "club" with all the big tv's.

Tyrone Shoelaces

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:18 p.m.

Metzgers has a great steak Caesar.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

I think it's wonderful that they are trying to help the employees get jobs elsewhere. How many companies closing their doors actually do that?


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:25 p.m.

Is it the company, or is Mr. Morawa just taken it upon himself to help these people out? I'm thinking since the company just sprung this upon Mr. Morawa on Tuesday giving less than a weeks notice that the company couldn't care less.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

I guess it's not a good sign that their website hasn't been updated since 2010...

Ben Freed

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

The copyright date on the website does not necessarily imply that the website has not been updated since then.

Anthony Clark

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

Sounds like Mr. Morawa is a real stand up guy trying to do the right thing for his employees in a difficult situation. We need more of that.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

The "Restaurant for Lease" sign has been outside Damon's for at least 2 weeks now so hopefully some of the staff picked up on the hint earlier than Tuesday!

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

If anyone hasn't heard yet Michigan's first Cheesecake Factory location was announced today upon hearing about this closing I couldn't help but think about all the times readers have requested for a C-Factory to open here in A2 and that this location may be fitting for it.

Boo Radley

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

I really liked my experiences at Cheesecake factories out of state. I would love to see one in Ann Arbor.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:32 p.m.

Cheesecake Factory ... for when you've abandoned any remaining pretense that you're trying to eat a healthier diet.

Denise Anderson

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:23 p.m.

I loved the C.Factory that I went to when I lived out of state. And they had a pretty extensive menu at that time [not every place can carry that off well, though].

An Arborigine

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:01 p.m.

Cheesecake would be a poor substitute for BBQ ribs, but goodness knows there are enough restaurants in this city to feed an army.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

I thought there was a Cheesecake place by the railroad tracks in downtown Ann Arbor. Near where the bus station is. Unless that is gone now too. Glad to hear the boss is looking out for the little guy.

Clinton Resident

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

I agree. Great parking area for something in and out.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

Haven't been to Damon's in years but this is still sad to hear


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

Bummer! I like the food.