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Posted on Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

New Italian restaurant to open in downtown Ypsilanti after winning tax exemption

By Tom Perkins

Ypsilanti will soon be able to add Italian fare its growing list of dining options.

Piero Sbraga, an Italian immigrant now living in Ann Arbor, is planning to open a new restaurant at the former Biggie’s at 16 N. Washington Street.

The Ypsilanti City Council recently approved an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA) exemption on the property. That will freeze the taxable value at its current level and mean Sbraga won’t have to pay any additional taxes on the property’s increased value for 12 years.

The property is currently valued at $85,000 and is estimated to have a taxable value of $125,000 in 2023.


Piero Sbraga is planning to open a new Italian restaurant at 16 N. Washington St.

Tom Perkins | For

Sbraga is estimating renovations at $247,000. Construction will be split up into two phases. The first floor will be renovated by April 1 and house Sbraga’s restaurant, which doesn’t yet have a name.

The second story will either house a split between apartments and more restaurant space or solely residential units, depending on the restaurant's needs. The second phase is to be completed within three years.

The building had been in bank foreclosure from January 2010 until Sbraga purchased it in January 2011. The city assessor declared the property functionally obsolete in April.

Sbraga told City Council he paid around $7,000 in taxes on the property and the renovations wouldn’t make sense without the OPRA exemption.

He said he remains a little nervous over the long-running vacancy of the former Pub 13 and Savoy directly across the street, but he will join several new restaurants that have recently opened or are planning to open in Ypsilanti.

The owner of Red Rock Downtown Barbercue recently told he is still close to opening on Michigan Avenue, and the B-24's Coffee Shop also opened along Michigan Avenue in 2011.

In Depot Town, Cafe Ollie opened in early 2011, Harvest Kitchen relocated to Cross Street in April and a new cafe is expected to open soon in the Freighthouse.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for



Wed, Jan 18, 2012 : 4:12 a.m.

Still sad over the loss of Biggies (was the best food in town), but I'll be there. We've been needing some good Italian for a long, long time. Good news for Ypsi eaters! Best of luck and see you soon!


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.

I hope it does well.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 10:19 p.m.

I'd like more info on what kind of food will be served, cooking ethos, etc. I'd love to see a place serve braises, fish dishes, greens and vegetables simply cooked with lots of good olive oil and garlic, real Italian food. Mmmm!

Atticus F.

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

Hopefully the food will be on par with Gratzi, but at more affordable prices. I have a thing for goat cheese ravioli.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

Is it fair to say this restaurant opening is the result of the new rec center on water street? I'm excited to have a big plate of carbonara. I can't wait!


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

I am an Ypsi supporter as much as anyone but the headline seems a little off-base. Until the renovations are done (and so on) the headline "New Italian restaurant to open" is a little to optimistic and not time-sensitive for any location in Ypsi. New Italian restaurant hopes to open after renovations - is probably more accurate. To me, the headline reads as if the place is opening this week (or soon.) Having said that --- I will be there whenever it does open.

dading dont delete me bro

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

how's the electric bill in that area...?


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

To the new proprietors of this hopefully fine establishment: Please offer some gluten-free options so that my wife can find stuff to eat on the menu!


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

Stuff takes FOR-ever to open in downtown Ypsi. See: the J. Neil Mongolian


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

This is great news for Ypsi.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

Bring it.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

My few attempts to eat in downtown Ypsi have been met with parking problems. Hope this new restaurant has parking available. Very likely my un-familarity with Ypsi led to my not finding convient parking. As remarked "Gooo Ypsi"


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

Well, jeez Jiminey Cricket! Didn't someone on another post ask for a nice Italian restaurant in downtown Ypsi? Great news. We love Italian and can't wait for this place to open.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

I will definitely give them a go. I tried to Support Leone's bistro but it just didn't cut it.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

This is something I'm really looking forward to!


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

I look forward to the day when Downtown Ypsilanti is a fun place to go at night! One more place to eat, drink and be merry!


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

Might want to check the event listings. There is a ton of things to do here. Having a Chinese New Year Fest, dragon included a week from Saturday.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

This is such good news. I know Pub,Savoy and Keystone has a serious lean going on, but I wish someone would invest in those spots....such a hole in the community because of those '4' (including elbowroom) places being closed.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

Yeah! Love Ypsilanti. So glad we moved our business to E. Michigan Ave. My goal is to someday sell our big house in Pittsfield and buy a nice condo in downtown Ypsilanti (when the kids are off). It is developing all the requirements: farmers market, close excellent health care, great coffee spot, unique restaurants, a library and of course great parks!


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

Welcome to Ypsi. Another reason we moved here 20 years ago.

Mike D.

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Good Italian food would make me cross the terrifying US-23 divider from Ann Arbor into Ypsi. I can't eat at Mani every night!

steve h

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

Ooooh. Scary! BOOO!

Mike D.

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

Is there good Vietnamese other than Da Lat in Ypsi? I ate there back when it was on Cross Street and it was consistently decent.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

Come on, Mike D! It's not the heart of darkness east of 23! :) We have great Vietnamese food too, not to mention a whole lot of great bars. Come on down!

David Paris

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

Piero Sbraga... now THAT's Italian! I don't know what would bring an Italian to Ypsilanti, but I'm glad you're here in our little neck of the woods, Sir. There is definitely a window of opportunity for your restaurant here, with the more authentic your menu, the better your chances, in my humble opinion. Best of Luck to You! ps. I'm sorry that Leone's Bistro didn't make it, but that old Cottage Inn site doesn't compare to this nice little downtown spot.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

Outstanding! I can't wait for either this Italian restaurant or Red Rock to open. With all these new ventures, pretty soon they start charging for parking! ;-)


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

Actually they did but there is a parking lot right across the street from it. If this is the area I am thinking of. Otherwise, there is free parking near the Freight House.

Mary Bilyeu

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

Oh, I'm so excited - this will be fabulous!


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

Lets all get there and eat to support this new venture when it opens! Depot Town is a great destination and the rest of Ypsi is ready to take off with lots happening by EMU and in the downtown. We just need to support it!


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

I'm there, frankweir! I'll buy you a glass of chianti!


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 11:44 a.m.

Hooray! I make it a point to get my hair cut downtown, ypsilanti and frequent Beezie's for breakfast and lunch. There is a pop up of farmers markets on saturdays 10-3 in the old Mongolian b q space on Washington and Mich. ave (nw corner) and Mix -a very cool shop across the street has excellent designer and second hand clothes that ROCK! Ypsilanti is becoming a downtown all it's own with the flavor of "old" Ann Arbor. There are also a number of boutiques & shops that line the downtown streets that remind me of parts of SanFrancisco. We're looking for a great come back to this city, and will continue to shop here.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

Hooray for Beezy's, Mix, and Mix markets on Saturday, B-24, and don't forget the great little Ace Hardware and the shoe repair shop that does such a great job! The more money we spend in our town, the better our town gets.

mike gatti

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 11:25 a.m.

Nice, good luck Sir. Goooo Ypsi!!!!!!!!!!!!