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Posted on Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor shops and restaurants hiring at steady pace but not getting summer tourism bump

By Ben Freed

Hiring is up across the board as Ann Arbor continues to build on its highest employment levels ever.

According to the most recent job numbers from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and the Budget, Washtenaw County has 3,700 more jobs than in May 2012 and the only two sectors to experience slight declines in employment were "manufacturing" and "other services" which lost a combined 400 jobs.


A sign outside Red Hawk Bar and Grill on South State Street advertises hiring for a number of positions.

Ben Freed |

For restaurants across Michigan, summer is often seen as a time to hire more staff to meet increased demand from tourists. In Ann Arbor, restaurants function on an opposite schedule.

“Whenever school is in session we have a maximum level of employment, and then when the students leave during the summer we drop down a bit,” Red Hawk Bar and Grill co-owner Roger Hewitt said.

Washtenaw County's unemployment rate actually grew from 5.1 percent in April to 5.9 percent in May. The increase is seasonal, and mirrors a similar increase in the county last year.

Hewitt also co-owns the revive + replenish stores beneath Zaragon Place on East University Avenue. He said staffing levels at revive double from about 12 to 25 when students return to campus.

While an improving economy has increased sales at his restaurant and store, Hewitt said it has also made finding quality new employees somewhat more difficult. Both Hewitt and Vinology general manager Vincent Jonna said that for skilled positions such as waiters, bartenders or cooks, they are looking to hire new employees with at least 2-3 years of experience.

“For a while there were a lot of college graduates who maybe weren’t able to find the jobs they were looking for right away so they’d work for us and they were great employees,” Hewitt said.

“Now with the job market bouncing back they’re having a little more luck getting employment in their fields so they aren’t available as an option for us to hire.”

The turnover created by employees finding new opportunities has also affected the local retail job market. Morgan and York co-owner Tom York said he has hired three new full-time employees at his store within the last couple of weeks.


Morgan and York was hiring earlier this summer, but just enough to cover turnover as some employees left for other opportunities.

Melanie Maxwell |

“It’s really hiring thanks to natural turnover and people moving onto bigger and better things,” York said. One of his employees was accepted to a graduate program in Sweden, and another left to become a manager at Plum Market.

“You want them to stay because they’re so great, but because they’re so great other people want them as well. In the end it usually works out that the next batch is equally good as the previous.”

In the monthly report prepared by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and the Budget, retail jobs are part of the larger “trade, transportation and utilities” category, which added 500 jobs in May and has grown by 900 jobs, or 3.6 percent, in the past year.

In other parts of the state, the restaurant and retail sector hiring trends are even more dramatic, with some counties seeing big drops in their unemployment rates during the summer months.Michigan Restaurant Association vice president of marketing and communications Andrienne De Ceuninck said that tourist season hiring has been boosting numbers across the state. According to industry surveys conducted by the association, Michigan restaurants hired 14,000 more people in May 2013 than in May 2012.

“In general, the food industry is exploding,” De Ceuninck said.

“The foodies love to eat out and they’re taking pictures on their phone and posting them to Facebook and that’s spreading excitement about restaurants and eating out.”

The summer restaurant and retail spike can be seen most dramatically in Mackinac County. The area, which often has unemployment in excess of 20 percent during the winter months, had a jobless rate of just 6.1 percent in the most recent monthly report prepared by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and the Budget.

University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes said that while restaurant and retail hiring should not be used as a barometer of overall economic health, it often acts as a “coincidental indicator.”

Grimes, who co-authors an annual economic forecast for Washtenaw County, said that he and George Fulton projected an increase of about 1.8 percent for retail jobs in 2013 and a 2.0 percent increase in employment at restaurants.

“That’s probably about what we’re going to get, but it might be a little slower if the slowdown due to the payroll tax increase continues,” he said.

“The economy so far has held up better than everyone feared with the [2 percent payroll] tax increase Jan. 1, the sequester (a series of federal budget cuts) and everything happening overseas. We had this lingering fear that something bad could happen and it doesn’t seem to have come true.”

Some of the job gains have come from the opening of new retail locations throughout the area. Briarwood Mall director of marketing Denise Murray said five new stores have opened since the beginning of 2013, resulting in at least 50 new jobs at the shopping center.

“We’ll be ramping up hiring during back-to-school time," Murray said, suggesting people looking to be hired in the fall should hit up retailers in early August.

The National Retail Federation reported Friday that the industry added 28,000 jobs in June. The group's chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz, said in a statement that the strong jobs report may signal positive and accelerated momentum for the second half of 2013.

More significant retail and restaurant job growth is expected to come in the fall to the Ann Arbor area with the opening of the new Arbor Hills shopping center on Washtenaw, which will include at least 15 new restaurants and retail locations.

A new Knight's restaurant and a Slurping Turtle will also be hiring when they open in the former Borders space in downtown Ann Arbor later this year. A new Buffalo Wild Wings in the former Damon's location on Boardwalk Drive will hire about 100 people in the late fall.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Get in touch with Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

Maybe it is all the construction that has made downtown impermeable to visitors for the entire summer...


Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

Well competition has only increased a gazillion percent


Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

Gotta love the optimistic spin from the Astrology department. How does employment rise when unemployment rises? Maybe population increase. Or double counting the same people - unemployed technicians also delivering pizzas. Layed off waiters with tenure downgraded to collection agency temps. Ann Arbor economy may seem robust but could gobust at any time. Balanced economics is simple. Physical resources begin the process. Meaning control your own energy. No energy no nothing. A2 got energy ? Like solar? Energy including food supply. A2 got milk? Any dairy farms nearby? Any farms left at all? And most all local commodity flow control as well. Goldman Sach knows about control. It runs commodity warehousing so it throttles the flow and then rigs the futures market to make its billions - paid for in the end by consumers in Ann Arbor. Congress is now investigating (NYTimes). Next is brains to turn the resources into products. Manufacturing. Including Farming. All Service jobs depend upon commodities and their products. Products can survive without services. Not much the converse (not the sports shoe). A2 got products? Edwards, Toyota, Pfizer, Terumo, Argus. etc. A2 got brains to grow local resources and make local products? Is the UM really a brain maker or just an entertainment nanny? Sorry, building highrise cubes for service shopping and eating of foreign products does not a robust domestic economy make. Diversification and mini-production (and R&D education and services) is a far more balanced and secure process. News Flash - Physical science replaces voodoo magic cult in Ann Arbor.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 10:03 p.m.

I own a retail business downtown & the absence of students do not hurt my gross sales. Ann Arbor does quite well on it's own; the presence of the university is important, but it is one of many factors. Keeping Ann Arbor different is key. The more chain stores we have will deplete our character & draw. So please, vote with your dollars; avoid the soulless, faceless corporate entities. Use your money to further your community & those who live within it.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

Of course there are more jobs! In Obama's America, everybody works part time because their employers can't afford the cost of healthcare for full time employees! So lay off your full time people and bring two peoplepeople in part time! I wonder how many downvotes I will get, given this is down-to-earth, open minded Ann Arbor where partisanship is a foreign language.

Basic Bob

Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

"Thats not obamacare increasing it that's the insurance company using it as an excuse." Obamacare IS the insurance companies!


Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Thats not obamacare increasing it that's the insurance company using it as an excuse.


Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

Our group premiums went up by 4% last year. They are going up by 50% this year. That's how.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 4:39 a.m.

C'mon Sweet_life - Don't cloud the issue with facts...


Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

But the employer mandate only applies to businesses with over 50 employees. How does this affect your business?


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

Obamacare is going to bankrupt us.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

Ok pb, well I am a business owner with about 20 employees on payroll. I have taken salary cuts, missed mortgage payments, have struggled to make ends meet but have never missed a payroll. Sure, I am just some random guy on the internet but Obamacare is not helping me, nor my employees.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 9:32 p.m.

Well, I won't downvote, but I will say that there might be another side to the question. For example, it may well be the case that employers "can" afford health care, they simply won't pay for it because, to do so, they would have to shift some of the focus of their profits and take care of their employees in an equitable way. There are corporations, after all, who take such an approach and who prosper.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

You got an up vote from me, truth teller!


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

I gave you an up vote for speaking the truth.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

Some of us are thrilled to hear those from Oakland County are staying away. We don't need you here, or your SUVs. Seriously. The majority of downtown businesses are owned by people who do not live in A2. And the complaints about no free parking? Sorry, the taxpayers here do not wish to subsidize your parking. If you can't afford $1.20 an hour for parking, then you probably cannot afford this town. Or maybe you should carpool.


Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 12:55 a.m.

Peggysue, You complain about mall food downtown and yet what you want is two chain restaurants? Cheesecake factory is the epitome of mall food, exactly the same at dozens of locations. I would rather eat at the unique and inventive local restaurants downtown - like Logan, Vinology, West End Grill, Pacific Rim,Grange, etc. Yes, you can get a great steak at Ruth Cris - the same great steak at dozens of Ruth Cris locations. I am looking forward to trying a steak at the new Knights downtown instead.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

Enjoy the cookie-cutter chain stores in Oakland.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

You must work for the Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors Bureau. Your sweet words make Ann Arbor sound like quite the place to visit. I shall keep this in mind the next time I feel the need to be treated with contempt.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

It's not worth $1.20 for overpriced average food , there are exceptions,chop house,Gandy dancer,Real Seafood otherwise mall food. Where's your Ruth Cris steak,or cheesecake factory Oakland county.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

Correction - the beginning of my first point should read: A retail/restaurant ration of 4:1... so definitely, more retail.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

Three things I've been told in the recent past by downtown business owners: 1. A restaurant/retail ratio of 4:1 makes a successful downtown. Currently our downtown ratio is 1:1. Hence, the term "food court" is being used to describe it. 2. The owner of a now defunct retail shop said downtown landlords are "in league" to extract astronomical rents. Selling alcolholic drinks is what makes huge rents possible. Their plan is to make downtown into an "entertainment center." 3. City council can do something about these problems, even though the prevailing notion seems to be that their hands are tied. (It's almost too late at this point to save what was a bustling and diverse downtown.)


Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

@Tano - if you had 1/4 of the restaurants and 4/1 of the retail don't you think that would be "healthier"? Not a depopulated downtown, just a different mix. If you are into "downtown density" those people are going to need something other than restaurants.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.

Cindy, Do you really think that if downtown were to have only 1/4 of the restaurants that now exist, it would make for a "healthier" downtown????


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

So sorry! I meant to type: A retail/restaurant ration of 4:1... so definitely, more retail.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

sweet_life: There are a few retail businesses that have remained open downtown (Main/Liberty/State corridor) for quite some time. Perhaps about a dozen. I am curious to know if those that have been able to stay open own the building they are located in. Or, perhaps, they are lucky enough to have a landlord that doesn't just have dollar signs in their eyes. At this point, it's all conjecture until someone does some in depth reporting on it.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Cindy1, 1. I agree it would be great to see more retail downtown. But some retail spaces have been downtown for years and seem pretty successful. What are they doing right? 2. As I said, some retailers seems to be doing OK even with "astronomical" rents. As for downtown becoming an entertainment district - this is nothing new and nothing unique to Ann Arbor. Retail has been moving out to the malls for decades (and to the internet more recently) - most smaller cities like Ann Arbor that do have thriving downtowns do it with a mix of restaurants, bars, live music clubs, and small specialty shops that stay open in the evening- in other words, they are entertainment centers. 3. What exactly can city council do about the mix of retail and restaurant space downtown? Create an ordinance limiting the opening of new restaurants? Impose rent controls? As for it being too late to save a bustling and diverse downtown - have you been downtown any evening lately. I see a lot of people in those restaurants and bars and in the stores that stay open.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

Do you mean a retail/restaurant ratio of 4:1? More retail than restaurants?

Homeland Conspiracy

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

More public art would bring them in

Lou Perry

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

Not going to get a bump when Ann Arbor businesses do not promote themselves outside of A2. We sit next to one of the highest income counties in America, Oakland, and we do nothing to draw those here. You look at all the events listed monthly in Ann Arbor Observer and who knows what's going on? Without question Ann Arbor is the epicurean capitol of the state and no one knows it. Want business you need to promote.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.

I may be mistaken here, but it seems to me that hordes of out-of-town (but somewhat local - meaning SE Michigan) visitors make their way into town every weekend, and often during the week, as well. At least that's what it looks like from the vantage point of sitting in a long (and I mean a couple of miles long) line of automobiles traveling west on Washtenaw Avenue around 8:00 PM. And, as far as I can tell, this is a year-round condition that precludes a summer tourist "bump."


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Goober, Is $3 for a whole evening of parking really that stiff? If you are coming downtown for dinner or a concert it is a small fraction of the total bill. What do you mean by "fend off the panhandlers"? How hard is it to just walk by, or simply say no? Have you ever been threatened or assaulted by one? There are a very large number of people every night in Ann Arbor who do not seem to agree with your assessment. I am glad you have found places you like better, but why do enjoy putting Ann Arbor down so much?


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

If they come, they will pay stiff prices for parking and have to fend off the pan handlers. Those that I know, have already tried AA and do not come here for these reasons. In fact, it is a large number of people. I am then told of the many fine places to go outside of AA. Thus, I have followed their input and suggestions and this is where I now go.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

I guess people are just choosing other theme parks for their summer tourism.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

You have to admit that the Argo Cascades is a pretty weak substitute for your average log flume ride.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

We don't get summer tourism here because there is not much to do here, save for U of M related activities, none of which happen in the summer. Ann Arbor needs more activities for kids and families, unrelated to U of M. The old and outdated kids hands on museum is not going to bring people here. We need more places for kids and families. If we build them, they will come, year round. Look at Grand Rapids. Tons of things to do, lots of summer tourism i would imagine.

West Side Mom

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

Have you visited the Hands-On Museum lately? Lots going on, including new exhibits sponsored by Toyota and Google. Memberships are at a record high and so are the number of monthly visitors. Though the Museum may not attract visitors from other regions of the state, it draws patrons from all over southeast Michigan.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

I think the headline of the article is a little misleading. As the quote from Roger Hewitt indicates, maximum business and employment in Ann Arbor happens when UM is in session, not during the summer. This is true of any college town. This does not meant that there is no significant tourism in Ann Arbor during the summer. Downtown is always busy (it's not just locals) and events like Art Fair bring in huge numbers of people. It is just not the same seasonal pattern of business activity that you see in places like Traverse City or the Mackinaw area. We have a student "bump" instead.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

"skilled positions such as waiters, bartenders or cooks ..." Really? those are skilled positions now? When did that happen?


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 4:31 p.m.

@Mike, I am sure you would find the variation in quality in whatever you consider skilled labor :-)


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

Along with my last post, I should have stated that there are several exceptional waiters and waitresses in the Ann Arbor area as well. There are many high quality cooks around here as well. These are knowledgeable, caring individuals that think of the customers first. These people take the time to know how the foods are prepared, and how the customers want to be treated. They pay attention to the things that count, cleanliness, food temps. timely meals, and customer satisfaction.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

There are a lot of skilled jobs that do not require a college degree. Think about a really good carpenter, or mechanic, or chef. Yes, anyone can learn some basic carpentry techniques, but it takes real skill to be a fine cabinet or furniture maker. The same applies to the restaurant business. There are some very highly skilled chefs out there, some of whom get paid accordingly. The same could apply to waiters and bartenders. It is easy to dismiss other's work when you haven't done it yourself.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

@ bluetonguedlizard I have tried many of these positions I was very good at these positions. That was many years ago though. Today I walk into many what they call "GOOD RESTARAUNTS" Just to find that the service personnel are lacking the service. It has come commonplace that these "servers" receive a gratuity of nearly 20% of the ticketed meal. These servers take orders from customers, and someone else delivers the meal, mostly after the meal has cooled and the plates have heated from the food warmers. To pay these servers a gratuity in the amount that exceeds most hourly wages is ridiculous. Example... 6 people enter establishment at 6 P.M. Water gets to the table @ 6:15 politely he says that he will return to take our order in a minute or 2. After several minutes he returns and takes the order at 6:30. When the order is ready to be delivered to the table we notice that 2 or 3 other servers have their hands full of our meals at 7:25. They rarely notice that our drink glasses have fallen short of full. After asking to have our refreshments refreshed our original "service provider" returns to the table. He freshens our beverages and asks " How is everything?" but does not wait for an answer. He returns with our bill at 7:35, the total for 6 people is $150.00. Once the bill has been delivered he returns soon to collect the credit card or cash and pays the bill. We leave at 8:00, the food was alright but not GOOD the service was lousy and they expect $30.00 Sounds like skilled trades to me too. Each person has a specific job to do. Wait staff - to take order Service cook- prepare meals ( even if it is prepared incorrectly) Service staff- deliver meals to table Wait staff- collect money and tip.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

My Hungarian friend in a major metropolis was trained as a waiter. He attended fairly lengthy schooling. To be waited on him is to experience quiet, prompt, unintrusive, knowledgeable service.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Many of these are excellent positions, being held by quality, fine people that I know. But, not needing a college degree, nor are they considered skilled positions. Experienced? Yes. Skilled? No. Held by fine, excellent people - heck yes! I personally do not look down to anyone in any position. Many of my best friends hold entry level positions.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

these positions are considered careers in Europe and it just galls me that folks here in the USA look down on them so poorly.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

Highly skilled? Skilled? I don't think so, but require experience. The manager prefers trained and experienced people for these positions.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

A restaurant manager says the skilled positions in in her restaurant are waiters, bar tenders, and cooks. That is true - in a restaurant, these positions require more experience and training than busboys and dishwashers. Nobody is saying that those are "skilled" positions in the context of the larger job market - although some people in those positions may in fact be highly skilled. What happened to basic reading comprehension?


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

I guess they can be picky and call them skilled positions when unemployment is so high and other better paying jobs do not exist. These are the sign of the times with our current group in power in DC.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

A good return for attending college, eh!?


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

Perhaps you should try working some of those positions.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

When the quality of education took a dive? These jobs are still only skilled in Ann Arbor.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

I met my sister for lunch in Plymouth last week. What a treat I discovered ... There were NO parking meters! There is an atmosphere there that is fun and lots of interesting little shops-not chain stores. We agreed to meet there regularly instead of Ann Arbor where we always have to be aware of the meter ticking or the expense of the parking garages. I don't know why A2 leaders think that people will come regardless of the hassle and expense of parking. Do they think Ann Arbor is so great people can't resist?


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

Great town. Right up there with Birmingham as great towns to work and live.plenty of activities,restaurant,and shopping. No meter cops waiting to ticket or brewer to hook your car. Also streets are terrible,Huron is the worst in the county.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

Plymouth, Brighton, and Saline are all worth a visit. What do they have in common? They are all much smaller towns than Ann Arbor. Parking is usually cheaper in smaller towns. They also have fewer restaurants and stores, music venues, etc. To each his own. There doesn't seem to be any shortage of people who enjoy going to downtown Ann Arbor any time of year.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

"Do they think Ann Arbor is so great people can't resist?" Yes. And McKinley and all the other developers thing the same thing, and eject tenants with ridiculous price increases to get higher paying tenants (like Walgreens, or maybe a vacant spot for a coupld years). Because apparently downtown A2 is NYC.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Brighton is great and some good places in Saline too.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

Oops! You found the same place we moved most of our business to. Ann Arbor can keep their student based atmosphere. We will spend our dollars elsewhere where parking is easy, free and the problems with pan handlers non-existent.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

I agree about downtown A2, but don't forget there are many great lunch spots in A2 that are not downtown so therefore no parking worries - Bewon, Cardamom, Great Plains Burger, Morgan and York, Eat, just to name a few.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 11:45 a.m.

How can we have no tourism bump when the PureMichigan ads were touted as a success and we had a story about hotel occupancy being pumped up by the ads (a causal relationship that seemed much more assumed than calculated, which this lack of tourism indicates as well, I would think).

Ben Freed

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

RUKidding, There is a significant tourism bump across the state of Michigan, it is just not felt as significantly in Ann Arbor due to the loss of the large student population over the same time period.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

You can't assume that the add campaign is a bust based on the information in this article. The article does not say that there is little or no summer tourism in Ann Arbor. It simply says that the business impact of having 40,000 students in town while UM is is session is greater than the impact of summer tourism. Why should that be surprising? I you want to know whether the ad campaign is successful or not, you would have to try to compare summer business in Ann Arbor before and after the campaign. This article doesn't say anything about that.

Lou Perry

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

I see the Pure Michigan ads similar to consumer brand ads, i.e. Pepsi-Cola – They create awareness. But the retail advertising to bring people in to buy is left to local businesses. Ann Arbor only talks to our neighborhood.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Yes, but we were told that ad campaign was a success and that it increased hotel occupancy. Remember the ad we paid a bunch of money for but then couldn't play in several venues (e.g. Youtube? I forget exactly where we couldn't play it) due to licensing issues? So has the economy taken a dive since that ad campaign (which was in the last year)?

Great Lakes Lady

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

Nationwide, the economy has not improved for most people


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 11:25 a.m.

There might not be a tourism bump, but the line out the door at Zingermanns around the lunch hours hasn't changed since the students left.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

I agree Sweet. We tried Zingermannns several times and found their food to be average at steep prices. So, we do not go there anymore.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

Why all the hate here for Zingermanns? It is a great business. If you don't like the food or think it is too expensive, don't shop there. But you can't deny that It employs a fair number of people in town and is a reason some people visit Ann Arbor. Would you rather it didn't exist?


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Zingermanns is not a good example of quality food at affordable prices.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

I guess there is a group of people who care more about "being seen" outside of Zingerman's rather than good quality food at good prices. Status and hype vs quality food? I'll take quality food any day.

Lou Perry

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

Zingermanns promotes itself outside A2 and is a known brand.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 11:07 a.m.

Parking issues/costs and the hassle of pan handlers have driven us to shop and dine else where. I commented on this many times before, but evidentially city leaders think otherwise. It looks like I am not alone. Go figure!


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

I do not frequent any downtown business anymore due to the stated issues. So, I would not have a clue if stores and places to eat we're busy or not. It is unfortunate that this is the job growth we are experiencing. Better paying, more stable jobs is what we need.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

I spend a lot of time downtown. It is as busy as it ever has been. The occasional pan-handler has never bothered me - have you spent any time downtown in a major city in the last 40 year? It simply isn't a major issue here. As for parking, how would you fix this perceived problem? More structures? We have plenty and I never have trouble finding a space. More on-street parking? Where would you put it? You want lower parking costs, but how would you pay for all those structures? And is the cost really that high? Spending $1.20 per hour for parking at one of the structures doesn't seem like a very big addition to a typical downtown restaurant bill (and the Ann/Ashley and Liberty structures have a $3 flat fee after 4 pm).


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

Did you even read the article? Downtown is packed, just a little less so when the students are gone. Spent last night having drinks and small plates in multiple places. The streets were crowded with people not afraid of the world. Sorry you're not one of them.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 10:31 a.m.

"Hiring is up across the board as Ann Arbor continues to build on its highest employment levels ever." Highest ever? I don't see those stats in the story. Higher than last year isn't ever.

Ben Freed

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

Sorry for not including a link in the story, but we have previously reported on multiple occasions that the county's employment levels (in number of jobs, not unemployment rate) have reached their highest levels ever. You can see some examples here:


Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 12:55 a.m.

If the stats aren't there it didn't happen.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

The stats may not be there, but the article may be right due to the added business in Ann Arbor. This includes the added school business, and the added students. This may increase employment, at the same time could also add unemployment numbers to increase. The other thing is how many of these jobs have been reduced hours jobs? We could probably employ everybody in Ann Arbor if the hours were short enough.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 10:08 a.m.

its painful to get from the highways into downtown. its painful and expensive to park. of course no tourism bump. Duh!


Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 2:20 a.m.

What on God's green Earth are you talking about? There are several access points to both I-94 and US 23 from downtown, and vice versa. "Painful" to park? Is that a joke? There are several excellent and well-maintained structures in this city, the most recent being the Library Lane lot (which has wide spaces, good ventilation and lighting, and easy access to wide one-way roads north-south roads in this city). I've heard this argument before. What you want is for there to be no traffic, so that you can get off the freeway and drive directly to your destination. You want there to be a nice, diagonal spot available to you right in front of your favorite restaurant, and you don't want to pay more than 5 cents an hour to park there. Please.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

"painful" I do not think that word means what you think it does.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

aarog, Thanks your for the constructive suggestions. I don't agree with all of them, but do agree that many roads in Ann Arbor badly need to be repaved (but this is true throughout Michigan). But it is a pleasure to see solutions posted here rather than the constant whining that fills the comments on this site.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

I agree it is painful to get from the highways into downtown. Ann Arbor/Saline road is horrid and destructive to cars. State street construction was uncoordinated so double dipped the time for single lane road. Washtenaw and US23 has the busiest intersections in the county, and no intent to alleviate traffic by putting freeway exit ramps down on Ellsworth where there is room and large capacity roads. I agree with Goober that the city leaders are wrong in their assessments including their desires to shrink roads. I don't feel downtown is too expensive to park. To Sweet_life, solutions? Repave Ann Arbor Saline Road. Expand I-94 from US23 to I-94 to three lanes, undo lane shrinkage on Platt just south of Packard that causes a mile long backup every business day now, undo lane shrinkage on fifth avenue which causes one lane every time there is a delivery, someone waiting to park, or cars waiting for others. Develop freeway entrance/exit capability on Ellsworth road from either US 23 or I-94. Change philosophy of Washtenaw county road commission that refuses to let left-turn lanes blink red. Gain operational money by assessing total cost of operations when adding in extra signage, extra signals and electronic signs - shrink the electricity demand instead. Gain other money by bringing into the city limit the remaining land inside the freeway borders that are not yet city land. Review police and fire contracts with the University to increase reimbursement a bit. Put the remaining art money into repainting shrunk lanes to wider lanes again. Save more money to get a couple more policemen on the road by making paper requirements and printer demands into digital capability instead, to the tune of a a couple hundred thousand dollars a year. Continue to utilize the DDA (that others may not like) and bring a couple million into the road projects listed above. On and on it goes.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

I think the point of the article is not that Ann Arbor has no tourism, but that the real bump in retail and restaurant business occurs when the students are here - a fairly obvious point to anyone who lives here. Regarding your perception of problems getting her and parking - I never have a problem getting from the highways downtown, and or have a problem finding a parking spot downtown in one of the many parking garages. But since you do seem to have problems with these activities, how would you fix them?


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

Agree. City leaders and the DDA will disagree with you and believe they have a captive audience who has minimal options. Boy are they wrong!