You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Middle Kingdom closes after 30 years in downtown Ann Arbor

By Paula Gardner

Middle Kingdom restaurant closed this week as the owners prepare to retire and sell the building on South Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor.


Lizzy Alfs |

The restaurant at 332 S. Main St. closed on Tuesday, a representative of owner Wai Chong (Johnny) Tam confirmed Saturday.

"We have a lot of long-time customers," she said. "We feel bad."

A deal to sell the property is scheduled to be finalized next week, she added.

The 2,453-square-foot building was listed for $1.3 million with Mike Giraud and Randy Maas of Swisher Commercial.

Information on the buyer was not available Saturday. However, in a previous report, Giraud said interest in the property was steep after the listing.

From the earlier story:

“It’s zoned and set up for a restaurant with a full kitchen and full basement that supports walk-in refrigerators and equipment,” Giraud said. “For someone who wants to have an opportunity to own their own building and have a restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor, this is it.”

That report also noted that the nearby Prickly Pear building also was listed for sale, with a list price of $1.35 million. Broker for that property, Jim Chaconas of Colliers International, says that property - which can be expanded - remains on the market.

Middle Kingdom opened in the early 1980s. It later expanded its dining room to accommodate up to 120 guests.

View Larger Map


Nancy Keppelman

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 12:39 a.m.

The hot and sour soup was the best in Ann Arbor--I'd like the recipe! I wish the owners all the best in their retirement--as a frequent customer, I'm sorry not to say so in person. I fear this cute little building is not long for this world, however, between the cost of the land and the push from the DDA to build ever higher.

John B

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

Sorry to see Middle Kingdom go, 30 years and never had a bad meal there. Have a great retirement Johnny


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 3:49 a.m.

OMG!!! I took my daughter out for a special place years ago and was planning to do same again in 2 weeks. OMG. This is so sad and so wow. Good luck. This place had the best honey walnut shrimp ever.

Sandra Samons

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

I would love to see a follow-up piece telling the history of this unique venue. I have lost track of the various reincarnations it has gone through in my lifetime (which is longer than I will identify here), and have no idea about it's original name. I can remember the Right Spot or the White Spot. Maybe other people will chime in with their memories.

Thinkin' it Over

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

The food was bearable, but the staff was unpleasant and downright rude to each other and to customers. We won't miss MK. Bring back the Central Cafe!


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

Best Hot and Sour soup ever. I will really, really miss MK. Thanks for the great food and memories General Johnny.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

Unfortunately, now that the owners are selling, the price of square footage on that spot is so expensive that anyone who buys it will want to build straight up. This will figure into the "Connecting William Street" project without actually being coordinated within it. Hopefully the zoning board and council will try to reign in the profit motive of the buyer.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

Yeah, one thing's for sure- no business that could fit in that space could create enough revenue to support a $1.3 million price tag. Craigslist, maybe. Léon Krier says that the ideal floor space to lot size ratio is 2:1. Could you imagine a building being built nowadays on Main St. that is anything like the buildings already there? No chance. So developers will keep ballooning up the downtown until it fails. Having no overall development strategy (aside from specific street goals like Connecting William Street) means each and every separate project must maximize its own profit potential in spite of what else is there or being done concurrently. City Place, Landmark and Zaragon being good examples. Slapping on a brick veneer seems to be about the only requirement.

Steve Bean

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Most likely the adjacent parcels will be bought as well in order to build bigger. City council has yet to address that practice as to its relative benefits to the community. Is it a loophole in zoning or an anticipated and welcomed approach? The timing is interesting. It could get ugly.

Elijah Shalis

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

It is over priced and when we went there the owners were arguing in front of everyone. I recommend Lai Lai by Meijer.

Nic F.

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

I remember that! They were very over priced. Only uppity U of M people ate there any way. They should tare down the whole lot and build a new mcdonalds.

Angela Todd

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

When we were new in Ann Arbor, we didn't know that the restaurants were closed by 11:00 A. M., as far as downtown goes. We were all set for a night on the town...and hungry. When we walked up to the door of, "Middle Kingdom", the door was being locked. The owner re-opened the door. "Are you hungry?" he said. Yes, we were...and he let us in, even though they had just closed. I never forgot his kindness and went back in several years later to tell him that we never forgot...and ate there again. I just thought that someone should know of this kindness. Ann Arbor resident, Angela F. Todd.

Honest Abe

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

He wanted your money, he could of cared less if you were hungry. If he cared you were hungry, he wouldn't of charged you.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

11 pm?


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 7:18 a.m.

There are some big plans for this space...lets see what happens. I am pretty sad to see it last meal there was too long ago...

Honest Abe

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 4:25 a.m.

Geez people, they served AMERICAN Chinese food! When it comes down to it, it's not even real Chinese!! Every bite in this place was around 1,000 calories and enough sodium for 5 people. Good riddance to this slop stand.

Ron Granger

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

What a pointless rant that was. Complains about the menu not being authentic, but does not ask for authentic menu. But even if he did get the authentic menu, would likely not order from it anyway. And the rant isn't even correct. Because on the "american" menu there were countless healthy items. But, of course, your post wasn't about accuracy.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 3:52 a.m.

You have to ask for a dim sum menu ding dong. I did.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 2 p.m.

They had two menus, one of which was Americanized Chinese food, and one of which was authentic Chinese food. The authentic food was great. Sorry Abe missed out on it.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

What?!? I can tell you a a Chinese American that they had authentic dishes properly prepared that I wold otherwise only see in my former hometown, New York's Chinatown. The hosts were always very friendly and the service great. Only their slightly higher prices and that we don't frequent Downtown too much kept us from going back too often. Find me another restaurant in the area that has Beef with Bitter Melon or a properly prepared Pork and vegetables stuffed tofu skins.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 4:03 a.m.

Put a sub sandwich, bong store or 7 Eleven or Burger place in there....

Urban Sombrero

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

They had good food but I was severely turned off once I peeked in the kitchen and saw containers of raw meat just sitting on the floor. Um...ew. I never went back after that.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 3:31 a.m.

Did the container say "Fido" on the side?


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 2:12 a.m.

Mmmmmmm....containers of raw meat.

Wolf's Bane

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 12:05 a.m.

the building will vanish in 5, 4 , 3, 2, 1...

E. Gavin

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 11:39 p.m.

Middle Kingdom, you will be missed deeply.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 10:49 p.m.

Dang. Best Chinese in the area. Sorry to see this. Parking for carryout was a pain though.

Paula Gardner

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

FYI, I just changed the headline - the restaurant opened in downtown Ann Arbor in 1982.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 10:07 p.m.

Very, very sad. Their Chinese menu was amazing, and Johnny is a true character.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

Very sad. We loved Middle Kingdom. Their General Tso's and Lemon chicken dishes were outstanding. The Hot and Sour soup was great on cold winter days - just spicy enough to clear your sinuses. My taste buds are in mourning.

Rod Johnson

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

Bring back the Central!


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

Middle Kingdom was the only place a meal was served so spicy hot that we couldn't eat it. Doesn't seem that long ago that Central Cafe was in that same spot.