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Posted on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

Patel Brothers Indian grocery chain opens newest location Friday in Ann Arbor

By Angela Smith

Sometimes small, family-owned businesses turn into something bigger.

Patel Brothers is America’s largest chain of Indian Grocery Markets. What started out as a single location on Devon Avenue in Chicago has grown into an enterprise with dozens of U.S. locations.

The store opening Friday in Ann Arbor is the fourth location in Michigan and the 48th market nationwide.


Patel Brothers opens Friday on Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor.

Angie Smith | For

The store’s slogan, “Celebrating our food…our culture,” alludes to the plentiful Indian offerings found inside.

“We specialize in Indian spices, beans, rice and exotic fruits and vegetables,” owner Rakesh Patel explains. Grains, spices, chutneys, and snacks are all offered within the store. Many are imported from the east, and packaged under the shops own label, “Swad,” meaning” taste” in Hindi.

“Indian food is becoming more famous and more mainstream,” according to Patel, “we are noticing a change in our customer profile, we are seeing about 15 percent non-Indian customers in our stores, which is very exciting for us, as this opens a new market for us to penetrate.”

Patel explains that customers at other Southeast Michigan locations were asking about an Ann Arbor location, and that a market survey revealed good potential in the area. The store is planning to hire eight additional staff after the opening this week.

The location, on the south side of Washtenaw Avenue, between Platt and US-23, is tucked back and smaller than the Patel brothers were originally looking for. Construction began in May 2012. The Patels came across delays in construction, explaining that storms, power outages and “Mother Nature” caused delays in building.

Now, three months behind its planned upon date, Patel Brothers looks forward to its opening this Friday. “We’re behind schedule, and there’s little time, so we will open with a blowout sale,” he reports.

Patel Brothers is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, and is at 3426 Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor. More information can be found at the store’s website.

Angela Smith is a freelance reporter for


Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

Why is it that twe can't have a single story without someone making a political football out of it? Sheesh!! I think this is the one big problem with the First Amendment: People find it impossible to shut up. Glad Patels are expanding. Good luck.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 4:05 p.m.

Welcome to Ann Arbor : For the first time, I visited the Patel Brothers Store on Devon Avenue in Chicago during 1986. I would like to see that they offer all natural, and organic products from India. The criticism of prices at Whole Foods Market is unfair. I am really tired of reading all those ingredients listed on product labels. There is a real concern about artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, hydrogenated oils and other food additives. I grew up in India. We have never used artificial things in our food. That is a part of Indian tradition about food that I learned at my home. I shop at Whole Foods for I want to buy natural food. I would be happy if Patel Brothers pays attention to true Indian tradition and eliminate products that do not meet the traditional Indian Quality Standards.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

Well, then, how about patronizing some REAL family-owned Indian groceries that are not part of a national chain - like Shakti Bazaar on Carpenter, Om Market on Plymouth Road, Foods of India on Broadway, or Bombay Grocery on Packard? And that's just the Indian groceries .. would you like a list of the family-owned Middle Eastern and Asian places as well? I'll check this place out, but whenever possible I'd rather patronize a locally owned store than a big chain.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

I like both Foods of India and Bombay Grocery but neither have much produce. Haven't been to Om or Shakti, so perhaps they have a better selection. I'll try this place out first though.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

@annarborfan: who do mean by "we"? Please be more specific as to who constitutes that group in your mind.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Angela -- what is the actual address of the store, or what strip mall plaza is it in?


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

Platt's actually a slight misnomer, since I think they really mean Huron Parkway. Not sure of the strip mall name, but this place is east of the plaza with the Jimmy John's and Vitamin Shoppe. And it's before the Pittsfield light.

Angela Smith

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

From above: "Patel Brothers is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, and is at 3426 Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor. More information can be found at the store's website. The location, on the south side of Washtenaw Avenue, between Platt and US-23, is tucked back." The space was last occupied by Once Upon A Child, if that is helpful.

Greg Guro

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 4:25 a.m.

Thank God. This area just has ridiculous priced WHOLE FOODS and deceptive crap from Hiller's Market. I'm more than happy to check out this place and help contribute to what seems to be a much needed more ethnic and healthy diversion in this part of Ann Arbor.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

Just a short bit south of Washtenaw on Packard street near Platt are several low-cost ethnic groceries, covering Indian, Korean, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European foods.


Thu, Sep 27, 2012 : 11:19 p.m.

XMO Didn't Gore have something to do with inventing something that contributed greatly to their success?


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

continued from previous post... > As Senator, VP Gore was highly supportive of the research community's efforts to explore new networking capabilities and to extend access to supercomputers by way of NSFNET and its successors, the High Performance Computing and Communication program (which included the National Research and Education Network initiative), and as Vice President, he has been very responsive to recommendations made, for example, by the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee that endorsed additional research funding for next generation fundamental research in software and related topics. If you look at the last 30-35 years of network development, you'll find many people who have made major contributions without which the Internet would not be the vibrant, growing and exciting thing it is today. The creation of a new information infrastructure requires the willing efforts of thousands if not millions of participants and we've seen leadership from many quarters, all of it needed, to move the Internet towards increased availability and utility around the world. > While it is not accurate to say that VP Gore invented Internet, he has played a powerful role in policy terms that has supported its continued growth and application, for which we should be thankful. > We're fortunate to have senior level members of Congress and the Administration who embrace new technology and have the vision to see how it can be put to work for national and global benefit.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

As Vint Cerf, often referred to by others as the "father of the internet" said, "[Gore] is indeed due some thanks and consideration for his early contributions." And what did Gore claim? "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system." You'll note he never used the word "invent". Everything below is quoted from an email from Vint Cerf: > VP Gore was the first or surely among the first of the members of Congress to become a strong supporter of advanced networking while he served as Senator. As far back as 1986, he was holding hearings on this subject (supercomputing, fiber networks...) and asking about their promise and what could be done to realize them. Bob Kahn, with whom I worked to develop the Internet design in 1973, participated in several hearings held by then-Senator Gore and I recall that Bob introduced the term ``information infrastructure'' in one hearing in 1986. It was clear that as a Senator and now as Vice President, Gore has made it a point to be as well-informed as possible on technology and issues that surround it. continued in next post...


Thu, Sep 27, 2012 : 11:17 p.m.

I'm definitely looking forward to checking out this store. For years I've been buying all of my Indian stuff at Bombay Grocery on Packard. One weak spot has been fresh ethnic vegetables. On the same topic, I really miss the Thai store that used to be just down the street. Anyone know of a good authentic Thai store? (fresh galangal, real chili paste, lemon grass and fresh turmeric root etc. all in one spot.)


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 12:26 a.m.

Try Zi-Zis, Packard east of Carpenter. They don't have all of that every time, but often enough. I've seen kaffir lime leaves in there once or twice as well.


Thu, Sep 27, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

"Sometimes small, family-owned businesses turn into something bigger." BUT not without some help! We the people made this business, not the Patel Brothers!


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

I think xmo made his point quite well considering the responses here.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Funny, I see the Patel trucks using the roads and bridges Obama was talking about. Maybe XMO thinks they use a Federation Transporter to move their goods?


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

The Patel Brothers built their business. But they made and still make use of the infrastructure that we and our forebears created. They make use of the roads, the health inspectors, and the legal system. They benefit from the freedom that so many fought and died for. President Obama was absolutely right. True, he mistakenly used the word "that" when he meant "them", as the context makes clear. Please read's analysis if you want to know the truth rather than the spin and you want to see the full context.

Greg Guro

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 4:28 a.m.

Right, because if the Patel Brothers didn't exist, somehow some lone sycophant with a mental disorder about representing everyone else will magically create and grow something from that which never existed in the first place. . . Why even have ingenuity or people who invent, or take a chance and create and grow, when there is some idiot spouting "WE THE PEOPLE" as the reason for everything. That's what makes the USA so great and in its current decline. . . somehow DisneyLand, Ford Motors, GE(Thomas Edison) and TESLA owe everything to XMO and his ilk. /sarcasm


Thu, Sep 27, 2012 : 11:09 p.m.

So the Patel Brothers don't get any credit? You didn't make the business. The Patel Brothers did. You did nothing but contribute to their success.