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Posted on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 3:30 p.m.

Flat Top Grill plans its 1st Michigan restaurant in Ann Arbor's Huron Village

By Paula Gardner

A growing Chicago-based restaurant chain recently signed a deal to open its custom-stir-fry concept in Ann Arbor’s Huron Village.

The location - formerly a fitness equipment store - is half of the outlot building in the center, located at one of the highest-traffic intersections of the city: The corner of Washtenaw and Huron Parkway, ½-mile west of US-23.

Flat Out Crazy Co. plans to open its Flat Top Grill this fall, said Allison Meyers, human resources director for the company.

“We’re trying to open by the end of October,” she said.

The concept is similar to Mongolian-style stir fry restaurants, she said. Customers select the ingredients for their dish from multiple options.

The difference, Meyers said, “is we’re more full service.” At Flat Top Grill, customers then sit down while the grillers make the dish and servers bring them back to the tables.

The chain operates 14 restaurants in three Midwest states, including 4 in Chicago. Flat Out Crazy also operates the Stir Crazy chain, an Asian grill that operates in 7 states, including Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills, Mich.

The chain sought an Ann Arbor location because of the vitality that comes in part from the University of Michigan.

“We do very well in college towns,” Meyers said.

huron village.jpg

Whole Foods is located at the western edge of Huron Village Shopping Center in Ann Arbor. Flat Top Grill, a custom-stir-fry restaurant, plans to open in the high-profile center in October.

File photo

The Ann Arbor location, a 3,019-square-foot space, formerly housed American Home Fitness, the original tenant. Qdoba Mexican Grill occupies the other half of the outlot building.

Other businesses in the center include Whole Foods, Barnes and Noble and Panera.

The center opened in fall 2002 after developers converted a former car dealership into the high-rent, high-profile shopping center. Within two years, the developer also envisioned a second shopping center on the south side of Washtenaw.

That property - totaling 7.2 acres - was purchased in May by Campus Realty of Ann Arbor and North Shore Properties Group, retail specialists based in greater Chicago.

McKinley Inc. of Ann Arbor manages Huron Village, which now has one vacancy: a second-floor, 977-square-foot space.

Meanwhile, Flat Top Grill is hiring managers, Meyers said. By early October, the company will be holding job fairs to fill about 40 positions.

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by e-mail. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.



Sun, Aug 29, 2010 : 8:01 a.m.

I have no desire to go near this location. It is not being afraid of parking; it is the fact the parking spots are smaller than normal and not enough for the volume. I have had morons swing their door open onto my car in that lot on two occasions. There is nothing in that mall I can not get somewhere else. I also think the whole concept holds no appeal to me. It is 10 years out of date.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 11:10 a.m.

I agree with Napoleon. Went to one of their Chicago locations a few weekends ago while in town and was very impressed by the choices and the service. Yes, better than BDs.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 10 a.m.

Lived in Chicago for two years and this was our favorite restaurant! So excited! 100 times better than BD's.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 9:38 a.m.

The best option is just to drive across town, where, less than 3 miles away, there is...magically!...another Whole Foods, a Panera, and other restaurants....with amble parking. Easy-peasy. I must admit the people-watching is much better at this Huron outlet, though. It's interesting people bring up bikes and buses, because one of the reasons that Whole Foods was allowed to build in a lot that IS NOT LARGE ENOUGH TO ACCOMODATE THE LEVEL OF TRAFFIC they pull in, was that they figured it was a green business, and they wanted to encourage people to ride their bikes in. People are lazy, however, and chose to drive as a first option...or, like me, don't all live right downtown where we can ride a bike everywhere.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 9:33 a.m.

I know! Let's build and underground parking lot! That'll solve everything! Maybe across the street, with a tunnel?


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 9:33 a.m.

It's not a matter of refusing or's a matter of priorities and timemanagement. I just pick and choose when I decide to go I know if I go at the wrong time to that atrocious Whole Foods lot, there's a good to better chance I might be spending the rest of afternoon on the phone of my car insurance company or the hosptial...because someone backed into my car or ran over my body. High school Students rushing from lunch at the Qdoba or Panera... and desperation shoppers feeling self-rightous because they just spent +200 dollars on organic food at Whole foods, are the worst.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 9:33 a.m.

I know! Let's build and underground parking lot! That'll solve everything!


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 8:57 a.m.

Why would you make a comparison to NYC or Chicago? This is 100K population Ann Arbor. Have fun taking the bus to dinner. That sounds like that would really impress a date.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 8:37 a.m.

Sounds like an interesting place. With all these people refusing to park in the lot though, I should have no trouble getting in and out. Or I could just walk. Or take the bus. Wow, options! Who knew?


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 8:19 a.m.

Seriously people??? I can't believe that anyone would completely refuse to visit this or any plaza just for the simple fact that the parking lot is poorly designed and frequently congested. What a silly, narrow minded way of thinking. I mean, it's really not that bad if you have any level of patience. Hasn't anyone ever tried to park in NYC or Chicago?? Oh well, more stir fry for the brave ones!


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 7:55 a.m.

It isn't "afraid" of a parking lot, it's choosing to avoid a laughably inadequate lot that's a pain to get in/out of as well as to park in. If you want Mongolian Grill food and no parking, why not just go to Mongolian Grill?


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 12:23 a.m.

The sky is falling! If you're afraid of parking lot, no one can help you!


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 11:51 p.m.

Well said, both of you - I agree. I DON'T go there as a result. Too bad since this new place sounds appealing. Wonder if they know about the parking catastrophe.....


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:45 p.m.

I agree with the Shadow. Even though I like several of the businesses in that development I refuse to go in there anymore as the parking lot is an absolute disaster.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

That parking lot... which already is akin to an BF skinner experiment to see how quickly rats can deal with overpopulation and insufficent resources to meet needs -- will become a true nightmare if this place becomes popular. One already takes ones life in one's hands navigating to and from that Whole Foods with the horrid parking situation there.