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Posted on Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Great Shanghai Restaurant in Westgate closes

By Ben Freed

The space that once housed the Great Shanghai Restaurant in the Westgate Shopping Center is now available for lease.

The restaurant closed about one month ago when its lease expired. Employees at nearby stores said they saw furniture being moved out of the building but did not know why the buffet closed its doors.


The Great Shanghai Restaurant has been closed for about one month. Realtor Jim Chaconas said the next tenant could be a restaurant or a retail store.

Ben Freed |

“Their lease was up, and they just weren’t making any money,” Jim Chaconas of Colliers International said.

It's a situation affecting many Asian buffets, which became common a few years ago.

“ It was just not a profitable business (model)," Chaconas said.

Another Asian buffet, the Hibachi Grill, closed in Pittsfield Township in December.

According to state documents, the restaurant opened in 2010. There was a buffet option as well as items available off the menu.

Chaconas, who is now looking to lease the property, said he has already fielded a number of inquiries about the space, but he his looking for a tenant that will mesh well with the other stores in the shopping center.

“We had a national dog food store say they wanted to come in, but we have a locally owned pet shop a couple of doors down, so we said no,” he said.

“We also had a national tennis shoe store we said no to. We have a lot of local (businesses) here in Westgate, and we like them.”

The space will rent for $14.50 per square foot or $20 per square foot if it is broken into multiple parcels. Chaconas said it would cost him more than $200,000 to split the restaurant.

“We’ve talked to some people about bringing in another restaurant here, and other people about a retail store,” he said.

“... We just want to take our time and make sure we get the right fit for area and location.”

There are two types of establishments Chachonas has already ruled out for the space.

“We’re willing to look at another restaurant, but not a bar, and not another buffet,” he said. “That’s just a market that’s not doing well right now.”

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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



Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 8:54 p.m.

Is La Shish still around? If so, I'd love to see them move in. Excellent food!


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 2:58 a.m.

Talk to Zingermans. I think they would say yes. As for chinese buffet? It is expensive but well worth it if you want to try different foods. The best buffet right now is on Washtenaw. But it is pricey. Good luck Westgate. Beggers cannot be choosers. Look at Georgetown.

Lou Perry

Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 12:16 a.m.

The food was poor and if you have restaurant the food should be good. Menu restaurants are able to establish portion control and price but business model for buffet food costs are managed by traffic and Great Shanghai Restaurant. As I've said before Asia City has the best food, inviting, unique architecture and decoration as you would see in Hong Kong along with a very pleasant staff. It's a destination restaurant. Location, location, location. The logical place for an Asian buffet restaurant is downtown Ann Arbor. Heavy traffic of students, UofM staff and business people for strong lunch and dinner. If the Hibachi restaurant, a franchise, would have opened downtown it would have been a success.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

New Garden Buffet started out decent over 15 years ago, and just gradually got worse and worse. We used to eat there frequently...the kids loved it, but finally quit going because the quality had become so poor. The owners were creeps. Don't know about the most recent ones, we just didn't have any desire to go back.

Usual Suspect

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

The thing I always wonder about these places is the freshness of the food. I'd be interested in the opinion of somebody who has run a restaurant, but I don't see how it can be profitable to make all that food in the morning, server it during the day to seemingly very few customers, and end up with a bunch of it leftover at the end of the day, and do it all over again tomorrow. How much of that food gets recycled day after day? I knew somebody who referred to one of these places as, "E. Coli Chin's."

Lou Perry

Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 12:22 a.m.

Freshness is the result of traffic/volume.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

Buffets are questionable in most cases, as many of the foods are not kept at proper temperatures. I never visited this one, but friends did (once) and they were disappointed, to say the least. I agree with the other poster on the smell as you walk in the door. My friends mentioned this, and I have noticed this in other Chinese restaurants, not all, but some. Same problem with the Asian grocery stores in town, on Plymouth and on Washtenaw. Hope they can all clean up their act.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

There is a good asian buffet in Kalamazoo I like going to. It is called "Stir Max". As the story goes, three asian buffets were struggling in town and they merged into one operation. I normally avoid those types of places, but I've always enjoyed that one. It's been a few years since I've been there, however. After a night of, uh, celebration? Terrific. As for the smells at the grocers, yeah, that's an interesting question. There are a lot of strong smelling spices and vegetables. A lot of those fruits and vegetables aren't necessarily "bad", even if they seem very ripe. Some of these places sell fruits like Durian. I love those markets, and even their smells. American grocery stores are typically sterile wastelands that are well-preserved with chemicals. Enormous amounts of fruit and vegetables are wasted because they won't dare offer day old discounts, etc.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

Glad to see one realtor in the city is looking out for local businesses. I'm shocked! I would have thought that the first national chain with bucks would have been allowed to sign on the dotted line. Very glad to hear this is not the case.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:15 a.m.

Based on the complaints about the food, maybe they could re-open as the dog food company?

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:03 a.m.

If only they could have Shanghaied more customers.

Usual Suspect

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

I guess since it says this place opened in 2010, then it might be the same people who owned the previous buffet and had these problems:

Paul Wiener

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

This seedy, dark, neglected, often almost empty place was nevertheless one of my favorites. It had many good authentic dishes if you didn't depend on the usual menu, and friendly service. I discovered it had closed when walked up to it two weeks ago and blindly tried to open the door. If it opens again somewhere I hope it preserves its seediness - a much-needed quality in A2 dining.

Jojo B

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

@Eep -- Ah yes, Dinersty, how I miss that dump! Or as we liked to call it... Diner-Sty or Die-Nasty.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

Great Shanghai was the last great hope for seedy, dark, and neglected Chinese restaurants after the unfortunate demise of Dinersty.

Jack Gladney

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 11:29 p.m.

Nastiest Chinese buffet we've been to anywhere. Won't be missed.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 10:35 p.m.

the place closed weeks ago!


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

Just a genera note, why is it so difficult to get good chinese food around this city? We have some okay places but in many cities there are plenty of tasty, good chinese restaurants. I do think it is smart to look at what else is in westgate and I like the approach.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

Everyone has "their" Chinese restaurant, it seems. Whenever I ask people about the best in Ann Arbor, seriously, I get a different answer. One of my friends loves Gourmet Garden, and some of my coworkers like TK WU downtown. I always consider Chinese food to be mine and my dad's "thing." Growing up, we would go once a week.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

I like San Fu, but only for take-out.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 9:45 a.m.

Ethan, May i suggest the La Choy mini egg rolls available at you local supermarket? They are to die for and you don't have drive 45 minutes. it says they are inspired by traditional Asian cuisine right on the box.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

Chia Shiang on Packard.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

I don't know "why" there aren't any good chinese restaurants in the area. Having lived with and dated a chinese (hong kong) person for three years and being acquainted during that time with ACTUAL authentic chinese food, I can appreciate the disgust with the lack of good food here. Especially considering how many asians there are in and around A2/Ypsi. My recommendation (if you are unable or unwilling to go to the authentic, reputable chinese places in Windsor) is to do what I do and go to Maple & Orchard Lake Rd in West Bloomfield and eat at Shangri La. It's been featured numerous times in papers and local magazines as "the best" dim-sum in the Detroit metro area. I've had Great Lakes (looks like a cockroach motel, tastes worse) I would never go there again. I've also been to Asia City on Washtenaw Ave and was sadly disappointed considering all the hype by the locals, press, and owner about wanting to build an "asian american hub" around the restaurant and market next door. I'll never go back there either. It's so much more worth the 45 minute drive to either Windsor (my fav is May Wah Inn on University, ask for the "translated chinese menu" for the GOOD food rather than the standard crap they slop to american/canadian people) or Shangri La in West Bloomfield (I stick to the dim sum simply because I love it best).

Ann English

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

Gourmet Garden on W. Stadium is a Chinese restaurant, but not a buffet.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

Try Hidden Dragon downtown Ypsi - Dinner is under $10 and lunch is under $5, its good and their health department inspections fair better than most.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 10:25 p.m.

Have you ever tried Great Lakes on Carpenter? The "American" style dishes are mediocre, but I've found the more traditional selections to be fantastic. It's not the prettiest place though...

Linda Peck

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

I appreciate the thoughtfulness and care going into the selection of a new business in Westgate.

Jojo B

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

Overpriced and pretty mediocre food. I will not miss them.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

They had bad food. I love buffets, but I only went there twice. The second time was to confirm they had bad food. Too bad 'cause I live close, and do love buffets, did I mention that?


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

This place was called "New Garden Buffet" prior to becoming "Great Shanghai" under new owners. I was a once-a-month or so regular there for a number of years, and was sad to see it had closed when I went there a couple weeks ago. Not the greatest food selection as chinese buffets go (which suffered even more under the new owners, in my opinion), but most of the basics were there. The food was at least decent, and the staff were always friendly. Under $8.00...can't beat it. What a bummer... are there ANY more chinese buffets in the area? The business model of a chinese buffet CAN work... there are numerous ones that thrive. But for it to work, you have to serve large volumes of customers. My opinion (take it for what it's worth) is that it's all about location. If you're going to bury the place in a strip mall, it better be a mall with popular anchor stores that attract large crowds. Westgate isn't that, although I applaud the landlord for keeping the place mostly local businesses. I think the same was probably true of Hibachi Grill... absolutely nothing in its former strip mall home to draw a crowd. And Hibachi Grill is actually a small but successful chain. I've been to another location that was just booming. Farewell, New Garden/Great Shangai.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 7:18 p.m.

Hmm... somehow this message box doesn't like the really long URL, I guess. The end of it is ann_arbor_restaurant_owners_co.html


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

Yikes... not sure how that happened. Let's try again:


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 10:29 p.m.

A2MIGUY, I couldn't get the link to work..I think the end may have got cut off.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

@justcurious... I wasn't so sure about that connection, until I got curious enough to dig. After finding an article on here from last month about the former Golden Chef finally being demolished, I also found this interesting piece about its...and New Garden's.... former owners.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 7:58 p.m.

Correct me if I am wrong but wasn't New Garden Buffet the same people who had the fire at the restaurant north of Jackson where the Burger King was years ago. They tore it down finally after years of sitting there empty and damaged.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

I'd really like to see Westgate get a facelift. I shop there all the time...any other local businesses that could come in to that space, as opposed to any chain stores? I used to go to the buffet almost every week...will be missed.

David Barnett

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

I'm really impressed with a landlord supporting local businesses! Wish we had more like Chaconas downtown.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 5:08 a.m.

Chaconas lists tons of properties downtown his company doesn't own westgate they are just the listing agents

Andy T

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

Wow, me too. It was really great to read their statements. Shocking even.

Annette Poole

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

My family and I would occasionally eat here, then we ended up switching to Asia City - simply because it was closer to us. Sorry to hear that they closed.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

You should check out Asia City's restaurant inspection report before you eat there again.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

yah the one time we went in there: * The buffet was not fresh * The place smelled (not pleasantly) as soon as you walked in the door * The food ordered off the menu was not great. Never went back.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

They had their "we're moving" sign up for like a month now. Sad to see them go I know that it was not the greatest quality but for approx $20 two adults could go in there and eat a full meal.