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Posted on Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Real Seafood Company restaurant to be revamped after 37 years in Ann Arbor

By Lizzy Alfs

As Dennis Serras puts it, operating a successful restaurant for 37 years in Ann Arbor is no easy task.

From menu changes to infrastructure improvements, Serras said it takes a close eye — and big investments — to continue attracting customers.


The Real Seafood Company restaurant is getting a facelift this year after 37 years in Ann Arbor.

File photo

That’s why the Real Seafood Company at 341 S. Main St. will undergo major renovations this year.

“If you want a place to last 37 years, you better stay up with it,” he said. “We don’t just take out (of our restaurants), we put back into them to maintain that success.”

Serras, a partner in Mainstreet Ventures, opened Real Seafood in 1975. The company now operates 16 restaurants in various states, including Ann Arbor’s Gratzi, Carson’s, Palio, The Chop House and La Dolce Vita.

Serras said Mainstreet Ventures typically remodels restaurants every five years, with major renovations every 10 years. The 7,200-square-foot Real Seafood restaurant last received a major remodel about a decade ago, he said.

“We’ve probably remodeled five or six restaurants in the last eight months,” he said.

The phased renovation approach at Real Seafood started last year when the bathrooms were completely replaced. Now, some of the building’s infrastructure — like the air conditioning units — are being replaced. Next on the agenda: replacing the entire bar.


Renovations at Real Seafood include replacing the carpet and fabrics and installing a new bar.

File photo

“We’re going to tear the bar out and put in a new bar and service bar,” Serras said. “The bar is old and there’s some decay.”

Next year, Serras intends to spruce up the dining room, recarpet and replace fabrics. In total, he said the cost would be “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The restaurant will remain open during the renovations and Serras said there shouldn’t be too much disruption to customers.

Part of the restaurant remodels also includes studying the menu and determining what changes need to be made.

“Every year we sit down with the management and the chef and all that and go over their ideas,” he said. “We constantly try to keep the menus up on trends, and certain trends come and go.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 12:42 a.m.

RS has had its ups and downs over the years, so I don't go there half as much as I go to The Earle, ay. But I do remain a loyal fan. And the last time that we ate there (was it our anniversary?) we had a fabulous Cioppino, a San Francisco seafood stew with an Italian name. RS's Cioppino was so good that I had to learn to make it myself, which I have done several times now. RS Toledo –– viewable from across the Maumee through COSI's telescopes, for you school-age parents out there –– is a really fabulous place, and although the Ann Arbor location couldn't possibly compete with Toledo's awesome high-ceilinged, old-warehouse real estate, it could hold their decor up as a model to aspire to when doing their remodel. A Van Gogh exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art about ten years ago started my family on a "Poor Man's Spring Break" tradition which included a couple of nights at the Hilton, with days spent at COSI and the MOA, and dinners at Real Seafood Toledo. What's not to like about that? So, ironically, I've eaten at RS Toledo more than at RS Ann Arbor in the last few years. The TMOA is still a draw, but COSI is out of the picture now that the kids have grown up. I guess it's time to go back to being a regular on Main St. now!


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

Please keep the swordfish.


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 10:52 p.m.

Once you have finished revamping Real Seafood, how about revamping Maude's!


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 5:27 a.m.

Completely agree..nothing has ever been as successful in the space on 4rth as Maudes.


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

Two words: He Stew. It needs to come back, too.


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

I visited Real Seafood for the very first time Saturday. I found the bar to be small and cramped, but my service and food was SUPER. Why did I wait so long? I'll be back.


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

A booth at Real Seafood is where we learned we were to be first-time grandparents. The hooting and hollering at our table attracted the attention of a big table of big fellows from Norway, the hockey team and retinue in town for Big Chill at The Big House. When they heard what the hullabaloo was about, they stood and gave us a toast. Quite a memory. An evening I will never forget.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

Late to respond on this, but I love this story, @a2xarob! You must have a soft spot for this place after a meaningful event like that. Thanks for sharing.


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

Love Real Seafood! Looking forward to the updates!


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

Just don't revamp the crab cakes, they are our favorite!


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

Please bring back the Lobster Fettuccine! So sad that it was taken off the menu. My favorite birthday dish. RS is one of my favorite places...especially in the summer...the garage doors open - people watching and great food, perfection.

Linda French

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

I love all the Mainstreet Venture Restaurants. They are all well run with great food. Real Seafood will always have a special place in my heart. Go get em Dennis!


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

Oops - should have said "the Cracked Crab is gone now along with cheap seafood." Didn't mean to imply that the Gandy Dancer is gone, it isn't.


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

The perspective of over 40 years in Ann Arbor has given me memories, some of which are a bit disturbing. Example: one hugely popular seafood restaurant was the Cracked Crab. When first married, the wife and I loved to go there - but often the line of customers extended down the block. The CC was purposely "down scale" with paper plates and "un-renovated" decor. But you couldn't beat their beer battered shrimp - especially considering the price. Back in those days (1970s) such places as Muer's Gandy Dancer and the Cracked Crab were new and seafood was plentiful and cheap compared to today (even when inflation adjusted). All that's gone now - including plentiful seafood. Today there are catch limits on just about every kind of seafood except for farm raised tilapia (a species not even on 1970s menus). I really like our Real Seafood Co. restaurant but if the next 40 years are anything like the last 40 - "real seafood" is going to be harder and harder to find. :-(


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Cracked Crab along with Maude's also my favorites of the past..miss both of them!!


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

Haven't enjoyed Real Seafood for many years. Go there in summertime to have chowder and oysters outside, but otherwise we've discovered Bonefish and love everything about them, other than they're not in town YET. They would have to really revamp menu to get us back.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 4:18 a.m.

Not even close...bonefish, popular as that OSI owned company may be, realize, that they specialize with a whole different clientele of seafood for you to eat! Check it out...they get tilapia from china...season packets of stale dried herbs...bang bang shrimp that is fried and then tossed in a mayonaise and sriracha. Sub par product...considering RSC gets their seafood from Foleys fresh, within three days of swimming...fresh ingredients and a scratch kitchen...give me one dish from BFG to stand up to one from RSC past or present...


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

Plus they are a little pricey.


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 2 p.m.

This continues to be one of my favorite restaurants in Ann Arbor "sprucing" it up a bit sounds great!!

Steve Hendel

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 11:06 a.m.

The Serras family has been good for downtown A2.


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 10:28 p.m.

No kidding...


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

Yeah. Yeah, they have.