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Posted on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Passport Lounge closed for renovation; no timetable for re-opening

By Ben Freed


Passport Restaurant and Lounge at 3776 S. State St. is missing its distinctive sign as it closes indefinitely for renovations.

Ben Freed |

The Passport Restaurant and Lounge on South State Street in Pittsfield Township announced in late October that it was closing temporarily for renovations, but there's no word on when it will reopen.

The building housing the restaurant is now closed and the large “Passport” sign on the front of the building is no longer displayed. There have been no updates on the restaurant’s website or Facebook page indicating when a reopening will occur.

The “closed for renovations” announcement was posted on Oct. 15. However, Pittsfield Township supervisor Mandy Grewal said her staff has not received any applications for the permits required for renovations or additions to the location.

Before the closing, a restaurant employee said over the phone that she had not been told when management was planning finish the renovations.

Passport is the venture of Jenny Wu and husband Jin Huang whose first restaurants were Lucky Kitchen Chinese locations in Ann Arbor. The two opened the Passport restaurant in the summer of 2010 as way to take their culinary reach beyond Chinese food.

Before Passport, the building owned by A&Z Investments was home to a branch of Novi-based Cherry Blossom Japanese restaurant, and before that it was home to Ann Arbor’s Chi-Chi’s franchise. The restaurant's doors still have the “Cherry Blossom” glass etchings, while may of the windows still say “Chi-Chi’s.”

Passport serves a fusion of foods from across the globe including Asian, Italian, Mexican, and American. The lounge has also hosted an array of events including salsa dancing, wine tastings, and even belly dance performances.

Passports owners and the operators of A&Z Investments could not be reached for comment for this article.

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, Nov 14, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

Renovations, my butt......

simply amazed

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 11:41 p.m.

Drove by tonight. Sign is gone. Sounds like the squares restaurant "closing for the summer" never to be seen again.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

It's a goner. That spot is death for businesses, and this place often had an empty parking lot...


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

Hope they tear down this incredibly ugly building. It's in a prime location, and is an eyesore. I drive by it all the time but have never had any desire to go in. It looks like a big, blue, nearly-windowless cave. Not a place where I'd want to spend time. So, hope it's torn down and rebuilt! (I'd love to have a Pei Wei in Ann Arbor... this would be a great spot for that, providing the building is redone.)

say it plain

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

Why all the hating on the idea of "Fusion"?! Sure, if anyone answers the "what *is* it?" question with "indecision?" lol, walk out and find another eatery... But the idea of mixing spicing and textures and ingredients used in various cuisines to interesting new effect is just great, imo. Many "sophisticated" and successful restaurants do that, typically when there's a chef who knows what they're doing. We surely have a dearth of those around here, unfortunately! Never ate at Passport, their health inspections stopped me ;-)

Richard Carter

Sat, Dec 1, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

This is going to sound like some sort of Ford commercial, but Fusion without Focus is I believe the problem here. It's one thing to fuse a couple of different styles, but generic fusion is usually code for not-a-clue.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

I met the Head Chef once and asked him what "Fusion" meant. He looked embarrassed and said "...indecision...". That was enough to keep me away! "Fusion", "Eclectic"...code for "Theme-less". They're done. Who's next?

Richard Carter

Sat, Dec 1, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

I think if you can say that you are fusing two particular styles, that's legit. But "fusion" on its own, Chef is right.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

If they reopen, let's hope they have a better menu and staff.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

And here I thought that Costco was supposed to be the great savior to all the retail business in the area.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:23 a.m.

I drive past this place on my way to work everyday. It looks DESERTED. I feel really bad for the employees. I hope they aren't waiting for this place to reopen. The owners should have the decency to fess up if they are going to reopen or not.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:21 a.m.

You mean to tell us that Ann Arbor's last source of deep fried monkey dipped in guacamole with a side of bean sprouts & spaghetti is GONE??!! How very, very sad. ;-)

say it plain

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.

That's not even remotely funny!

Balthazar Tarantula

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:58 a.m.

Never ate there, but that has got to be the ugliest restaurant in the city.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:21 a.m.

I liked Passport, but it was too expensive to eat there regularly. The food was non-traditional which made it interesting.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.

I would love to see someplace that is a nice setting for music--especially jazz. I don't understand how a city like Ann Arbor has no legitimate jazz venues. Great food would be a plus!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:53 a.m.

Hmm...clearing the way for my new Hooters, no doubt.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

Please say it isn't so....


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:16 a.m.

The issue is doing a renovation that is half-baked. If you are going to have the restaurant continue to remind patrons of the past failures you are doomed as well. For most people the thought is this, if you are too cheap or do not pay attention to details enough in your remodel, or your bathroom, or your kitchen, then you probably skimp on cleanliness in your kitchen or you are willing to purchase food that may be substandard base on price instead of quality. If you are not going to do something right, do not bother. There is way too much competition in a city like A2 (or Pittsfield Twp) to do it in such a slack jawed manner. They already have an issue of location going against them, and it IS an issue. In a previous life I sold to McDonald's and this location was the slowest in Ann Arbor. People need a reason to go south of I94, and if it is like what was done at Passport it is doomed for failure.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:24 a.m.

I doubt Costco attracts a ton of restaurant traffic. Quite honestly a good restaurant could make it, but they can not do it half way. I do not think it is the concept that was bad, it was the execution,. They did things on the cheap. That is proven in their not taking away all semblence of Chi Chis and having abysmal health department rite ups.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

Do you think the right kind of place could do better now that Costco is over there? Personally the whole "passport" concept didn't interest me.....better to do a few things well that a lot of things subpar.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:11 p.m.

Went there earlier this year with relative that suggested it. Only one other table occupied in the whole place while we were there. Had a miss mash of entrees on the menu. Meanwhile in the other room we could hear some type of dance lessons going on..rather odd at best. Wondered how they could afford to keep the place open.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

They're closed because they sold alcohol to a minor and lost their liquor license. Or at least had it suspended (I don't know how that works exactly). Also, they're closed because they were not good at running a restaurant.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

Marks Midtown Coney seems to be doing a good business, I would assume that location is not the reason Passport went down. Chi Chi's was packed for years, don't know why it failed.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Chi Chi's failed due to a series of corporate "financial engineering / suck the assets out for the owner by loading up on debt" moves followed by tainted veggies that hammered their Corporate revenue. Bad luck for the local outlet.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

Is it too late to call Robert Irvine?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:06 p.m.

The menu was confusing as it had American, Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican. They need to focus on one thing. There is a lack of Pakistani restaurants in this area. A Pakistani restaurant would do very well. Make it Pakistani and the customers will come.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 11 p.m.

Didn't work out for Babu


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

There's a couple good Paki restaurants in Canton, on/around Ford Road and Canton Center. Paki tends to feature more meat. Most good indian is vegetarian- the meat dishes are mostly to apppeal to westerners. Also check out Curry Up! Indian Street Food in NW Ann Arbor. Off Plymouth Rd across (west of) the Kroger.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:12 a.m.

I am no expert, but I remember Babu Bhatt trying this on Seinfeld.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:34 a.m.

What would distinguish Pakistani food from Indian in your opinion? I once had a chance to patronize a restaurant with a Pakistani owner who served the best shish kabob I have ever had, with wonderful homemade chutneys. One of the exceptional points is that he used mustard (ground) for heat, not red peppers.

Urban Sombrero

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

Referring back to DBH's post......Holy Moly! I must've missed that particular list of Health inspections. Normally, I pay attention whenever posts them, but I don't remember that. Yikes! That said, I'm glad I didn't make it there with my daughter, like we'd planned. She loves sushi and I told her I'd take her there some day (it's fairly close to where we live). I'm glad we missed our chance. I did have lunch there with my mother once. I agree with jmac, small portions relative to price. But I thought it was very tasty. I'll be curious to see if they reopen or ultimately sell. It seems like that building is just plain bad luck. Nothing has lasted there very long since Chi-Chi's left.

Angry Moderate

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:17 a.m.

I'm almost certain they won't re-open. Their food offerings and health inspections are fine for Lucky Kitchen's $5 meals, but they just don't work for $15 meals.

Bertha Venation

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

I've heard nothing but negative comments from friends who have been there..

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

I never visited because the "fusion" idea really turns me off. Here's an idea: How about a Moroccan restaurant? Or just today I found a delightful new Tunisian "deli" inside Taco King (La Tienda Libertad, on Liberty). We could really use some North African cuisine in a nice sit-down restaurant. (I do like Blue Nile, yes) Or an Indonesian restaurant. I once lived where there was a "rijsttafel" restaurant - pricey but wonderful. I understand there are Indonesian and Malaysian cooks running other types of restaurants. For a supposedly sophisticated city, we have relatively few ethnic restaurants that serve the real thing.

Rod Johnson

Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 12:38 a.m.

Can't imagine why people are voting down Vivenne's comment. It would be nice to have some real variety here. Tired of Chinese and Thai. How about a Burmese restaurant? Rijstaffel would be great too. Old-timers might remember the Afghan Home, which was an awesome but shortlived place.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:31 a.m.

Tunisian food, no surprise. The young chef/owner says she is a biologist and only uses fresh local food. I had couscous with vegetables, Tunisian salad (cucumbers/tomatoes/mint, merguesa (may have spelled that wrong) with homemade lamb sausage, and a saffron rice with vegetables. There is also chicken, harissa (a pepper sauce), Tunisian style spaghetti, and a couple of soups, including lentil. She has only been open two weeks. The food is subtle and not overly spiced, but appealing.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

What have they got at the Tunisian deli?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

Supposedly sophisticated city? Try saying that really fast 3 times on a Sunday morning while having to dodge the puke piles downtown...LOL


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

I think they need to tear it down because it will ALWAYS look like a Chi-Chi's no matter what color you paint it or what kind of food is served. I work in that area of town and would love to have a good restaurant south of I-94.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

"Closed for renovations" is code for CLOSED with no intention of reopening.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

Ditto to DBH. The food was also pricey and portions rather small. It seems this is not a good restaurant location, either, as pointed out that 3 restaurants have opened and closed in that building over the past few years. Maybe it's just not meant to be.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

Their Health Dept. inspections have not been good. At their last inspection 4 months ago, they had 13 violations, 5 critical. . I know I stopped eating there late last summer after I saw that their inspection from late June 2011 showed 16 Health Dept. violations, 10 of them critical.