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Posted on Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

Melange Bistro sold as new owners plan to emphasize 'better' food

By Nathan Bomey

One of Ann Arbor’s leading bars, Melange Bistro, has been sold to a new ownership group, according to an interview this morning on local radio host Lucy Ann Lance’s show on 1290 WLBY-AM.

Laura Wanke and her husband, Chris Wanke, told “The Lucy Ann Lance Business Insider” that they had purchased the restaurant, which had been on the market for about five years — and they're changing the restaurant's name to simply Melange.


The new owners of Melange Bistro are shortening the name to Melange.

File photo |

The deal comes about two months after metro Detroit ophthalmologist Reza Rahmani of Rahmani Eye Institute PC bought the 312 S. Main St. building that houses Melange, The Ark, Rush Street and Conor O’Neill’s for $3.85 million.

Laura and Chris Wanke said they joined business partners Scott Burk and Jay Mullick to purchase the restaurant from its previous owners, including Jay’s uncle, Dilip Mullick.

Melange — which had the fourth highest liquor sales in 2009 among Ann Arbor bars, according to a list of state statistics compiled by — will maintain a “Eurasian fusion” flavor, Chris Wanke said.

“The town knows the place as a bar, but we also have really good food and we really want to try to refocus our company and let people know that we have great food and we have a great happy hour, we have great appetizers,” he said. “The food we’re just trying to make better overall.”

They've already introduced a late-night menu that runs until 1 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

I remember when "Melange" was more concerned about providing a great experience for the customers and everything just seemed to fall into place; food was great, entertainment was great, staff was great. The danger in focusing on providing 'better' food is that, if the food sucks (which isn't all that inaccurate a description for its current fare), what's left to make up for it? What's this restaurant's redeeming quality? Booths? If the new owners cared about keeping this place in the community, they'd leave a good thing alone. Ann Arbor doesn't need another place for just-for-men-spokesman types to play grab-ass in dim lighting while enjoying a succulent tenderloin. Try filling in the gaps where Melange has failed in the past (e.g. advertising, more consistent entertainment, patio service, etc.)


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 5:34 a.m.

More like Melange a Bourgeois... blechhh!


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 1:22 a.m.

I, too, am surprised by the negativity. It is our favorite Happy Hour for both the cost and the food! And the service has been fine. It's fairly empty when we're there. Maybe we just go earlier that everyone else.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

How about a nice, dark, smoke-filled bar - with no food. A real serious bar. No yuppies, students, no families with screaming brats... alas, never in Michigan again except as a blind pig. Those were the days.

Mike D.

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

Better food, not excellent food. Ambitious. Oh, Ann Arbor.

Tom Wieder

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

I'm quite surprised at the negativity of the comments here. We tried Melange when it first opened. The food and service were both excellent, but we were bothered by the noise level and didn't return for a long time. In the last year or so, we gave it another try, always asking for one of the curved booths along the far wall. That pretty much solved the noise issue. We have been thrilled with a series of dinners we've had since. We and the other couples we've eaten with have sampled a good percentage of the menu. No one has had a bad meal, or even a mediocre one. I don't think anyone in our groups has rated their meal below "very good," with "excellent" being more common. I hope the new owners don't ruin the experience trying to make it "better," but. if they do actually make it better, it will be a gem.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

Tom W.....I'm always quite surprised when someone says they are quite surprised at the negativity of the comments here. I'm mostly surprised when there are some positive comments. It's nice to read them. Thank you.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

mé·lange also me·lange (m-läzh) n. 1. A mixture: "[a] building crowned with a mélange of antennae and satellite dishes" (Howard Kaplan). 2. Geology A metamorphic rock formation created from sediments and rocks scraped off the top of a downward-moving tectonic plate in a subduction zone.

Sherice Zammitt-Groff

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 4:21 a.m.

I've eaten here since the new owners have opened, for a birthday party actually, and it was amazing!! I am pregnant and never have wanted sushi so bad! I did get to try the Buddha Maki roll, which I will never forget. We had the beef on the hot rock, I had the evenings special which was a tenderloin with amazing accompaniments, and my husband had a pasta dish. All together an amazing evening! I can not stop thinking about this place, really. I've planned my next visit, and I plan on having the Buddha Maki roll again and the Risotto. Amazing!

say it plain

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

I love this headline lol... Another one that tells a whole story about our town indeed! Yes, we can use an emphasis in downtown dining on, to put it simply, "better food" !!! How about "better service" too?! The views are fine I guess, mostly of *other* restaurants in need of emphasizing "better food" but passable...


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

Sounds like a good decision. When Melange first opened I liked the food, but the quality did not hold up over time. Also, the atmosphere changed for the worse. One of the issues I had with Melange is that it couldn't seem to decide if it wanted to be a restaurant or a bar...with the resulting mess of: you are sitting at a table trying to have dinner with friends etc. All the while your eyes are assaulted by leering, drunken, monied baby-boomers and their 20 to 30-year-younger escorts (or heaven forbid, actual girl friends) mauling each-other, in droves around the bar area. Some of my male friends in their 30s have said Melange was more of a Cougar Den than Conor O' Neils (which is saying something), and I found the men at Melange to be very aggressive/annoyingly persistent even with wedding ring and a firm "not interested".


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 3:20 a.m.

Cougar Den? Ree-awwwrr!!


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

This town has enough Bistros. When is someone going to open up a Honkytonk?

Bertha Venation

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

Great idea, tree.... we can call it Bubba's Saturday Night! Good Times.

Bertha Venation

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

Saaayyy....... If they were the third owners.... They could call it Melange et trois.


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

Dr. Rahmani is making moves! Haven't seen too many of his commercials lately I wonder if he's going to focus more on real estate development now?


Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

Haven't seen his commercials lately? Maybe you need Lasick! I trust my eyes to Dr. Rahmani, and you should too.