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Posted on Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 10:37 a.m.

Grand Traverse Pie franchise to open restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor

By Lizzy Alfs


The former @burger space at 505 E. Liberty St. has a new tenant: Grand Traverse Pie Company.

Melanie Maxwell |

A franchisee for a Traverse City-based restaurant chain signed a lease yesterday to open in the former @burger space on East Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor.

The new tenant, Grand Traverse Pie Company, plans to start renovations immediately on the 3,185-square-foot space in the McKinley Towne Centre building, said Tom Gritter, McKinley's vice president and managing director of commercial real estate.

The deal comes about four months after @burger, a new concept started by the Michigan-based Big Boy restaurant chain, closed its East Liberty restaurant and was declared a failure.

Gritter said the Grand Traverse Pie franchise owner, Dave Ziegler, hopes to open for the upcoming holiday season. Ziegler declined to immediately comment on his plans for the restaurant.

Along with pies, the restaurant’s menu includes deli sandwiches, salads, soups and breakfast foods.

“Obviously, the restaurant is first and foremost known for pies, but they have a lot of food as well,” Gritter said. “They also do a lot of catering to businesses for lunches.”


Grand Traverse Pie's signature product is its pies.

Photo courtesy of Grand Traverse Pie Co.


A sandwich and soup from Grand Traverse Pie Company.

Photo from Grand Traverse Pie Company

“This fits a niche in the market,” he continued.

The space was listed with Jim Chaconas and Brendan Cavender of Colliers International for an annual rental rate of $34 per square foot. Cavender said they received extensive interest in the location.

"We had offers from everyone from large national chains to local first-time startup restaurants,” Cavender said. “We ultimately decided to choose a local Michigan company with a local Ann Arbor operator that we felt would be a good match for both the building and the Liberty corridor."

The space was particularly attractive to future tenants because of the investment @burger made in the space a year ago, Gritter said.

“It’s definitely in very good condition,” he said. “It made it easy for a tenant to move in right away.”

The Big Boy Restaurants chain started the @burger concept in Ann Arbor, hoping to eventually turn it into a national chain. However, the restaurant closed after a year on East Liberty Street.

Along with @burger and the now vacant Borders store across the street, other East Liberty Street businesses plans to close in the coming months, including Poshh boutique and This & That candy store.

But Gritter said the recent vacancies haven’t deterred people from the space.

“We had literally dozens of groups interested in the space,” he said.

There are 18 Grand Traverse Pie Company locations in Michigan and Indiana. There is another Ann Arbor restaurant, also owned by Dave Ziegler, at 291 N. Zeeb Rd.

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



Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 1:37 a.m.

give it a try


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 2 p.m.

This is a great restaurant. Glad to see they're coming to Ann Arbor.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.

@say it plain You have made your point about how you feel about the food at GT. It's time to back away from the computer. Geez......

say it plain

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

Because it's "just a feeling" I have, of course, not a series of *facts* about how terrible this food is for even the terribly even-keeled people who don't care what food is offered to us consumers :-)

say it plain

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 11:37 p.m.

Oh, good thing you're here to regulate my postings lol ;-)


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 11:06 a.m.

Glad to hear they picked a Michigan company with a local operator. I think it's a good fit. It's been a challange to have a resturant downtown that does not serve alchohol. I'm looking forward to having coffe and a piece of pie before catching a movie at the Michigan Theater when they open.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 3:09 a.m.

Someone has made a personal attack on lemon meringue pie!! Remove his post!! LOL!! Actually, I agree with leezee: a man is not a man without his PIE. This new establishment will be a success, mark my words. ;-) At least the name of the restaurant is grandiosely suggestive: Grand Traverse Pie (with a picture of CHERRY pie) does the trick for me. As for "deli sandwiches" - well, there IS Zingerman's but they're ONLY the best source of deli sandwiches in Michigan (and most of the United States). OTH: I walked by @burger innumerable times and never even noticed it. I do wish Big Boy all success and I'm sorry this idea wasn't one of those.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 2:08 a.m.

Hope this doesn't hurt the one on Zeeb!

say it plain

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 2:22 a.m.

Not to worry, that food will surely leave the fanbase for the Zeeb store without the energy to try and find parking downtown and yikes walk a couple blocks for more pie ;-)


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 1:24 a.m.

They have great chicken pot pies. Dutch apple pie is pretty good too. Don't like it don't go there, problem solved. (always the doom & gloom crowd has to add their negative two cents worth as usual)

say it plain

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 2:14 a.m.

Mmmm...the chicken pot pie will set you back *11 grams of trans fat per slice*, yummy! Plus 42 total grams of fat, mmm... And half of your sodium for the whole day...yummy! Have a slice of apple pie (couldn't find the dutch apple on their nutritional info list, but I didn't look too hard!) and that'll add another 8 or more grams of trans fat, cool! The recommendations are that people avoid *all* trans fats because they raise the risk of stroke and heart disease *hugely* (even compared to other saturated fats), and at the very most have no more than a couple grams of it per day, at the very most. They pile a week's worth into each slice of their pot pie, delicious! Their food would be *banned* in NYC lol, so we're really lucky to be getting a branch in downtown Ann Arbor! Wait, no, gross!


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 12:28 a.m.

They server food too folks. Not too bad of sandwiches actually. I think it fits in well.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 10:11 p.m.

So, do the pan handlers get to open the doors too? I really wish this company well. I just wish they were closer to Arborland. O well. Plus they are closed on Sundays when I am downtown. So, they loose out my business. Someday.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 10:05 p.m.

I am glad they are trying the new site. When I eat at GT on Zeeb, I love their rhubarb pie, especially Rhubarb/Strawberry Crumb. Try it, if you like pie.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

As a long-time resident and walker through the downtown, I agree with some others that such a franchise won't attract a strong business after a possible initial rush of interest. People can get franchise food on the road while they're traveling or making a pit stop from their car. I think that people want a destination-type restaurant or food that is unique and with fresh ingredients in that type of location. For the students, the menu will not offer food that is much different from that of other places they frequent. If businesses and planners would only ask the residents before their go-ahead decisions, there would not be such a high failure rate. We can typically predict how many months/years places will last.

Lynn Liston

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 8:41 p.m.

There is one of these on Zeeb Rd north of Jackson, in the same mall as Metzger's. The food is typical chain-restaurant fare- bland and uninspiring. I've tried the place several times and have never had a good experience either with service or quality of the food. It seems to me that this kind of place is more likely to appeal to a suburban shopping mall crowd than to the kind of customer you'll find in downtown Ann Arbor. It is not cheap enough for students and won't have the appeal that customers with deeper pockets look for.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

Great! They have terrific food at affordable prices and their pie is fabulous! Good luck, Grand Traverse Pie!


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

Look, if you already have committed to eating a pie then you shouldn't worry too much about the ingredients. Real health nuts wouldn't eat pie no matter what, so everybody needs to calm down and not look a gift pie in the mouth.

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

No, but seriously, you should look at their ingredients and take pause :-| The transfat is the really bad stuff...just to say. Butter is no health food, 'tis true, but it doesn't cause blocked arteries and strokes so much as the fats from all that partially hydrogenated oil, and it tastes better. If it were really a 'gift' lol I'd be nice and not complain, but this place will be for-profit I'm assuming and I'd prefer to spend my money on non-fake food. I really dislike fake food that pretends to be real food, in particular... I can 'commit' to eating a bit of naturally-occurring high-fat high-sugar food without getting the preservatives, artificial flavorings, and synthetic additives I wouldn't realize unless I did some sleuthing first were in it!


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:59 p.m.

More pie for me! Actually, I don't go there for the pie - I love their sandwiches.

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

You should see how much sodium you're getting in those sandwiches ;-) Almost a whole day's RDA (way over it, if you happen to be over 50, when the recommended sodium intake per day goes down to 1500mg per day from 2300mg per day!), yikes! A couple of them have as much fat in them as sandwiches rated among "the worst in America" lol. l Like their "lighthouse turkey cheddar sandwich" ah, conjures up images of the great lights on the bay how nice!, has as much fat in it as Applebee's burger that makes the "eat this not that!" list's "worst sit-down burger in America", woohoo! I don't know how applebee's bad-for-you-food entree compares in sodium, but the Grand Traverse Pie Co's winner has 2034 mg, which is almost a young adult's whole daily requirement. Mmmm.... It would be cool if we had the NYC requirements going here too...I don't know if the lobbyists got that stuff reversed or not, but the city had tried to get restaurants with more than 15 outlets nationally to have to post their menu info in their shop somewhere. And plus they tried to ban transfats, because the evidence is so clear that they are terrible terrible for people.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

Boo! Should have been The Cherry Hut.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:21 p.m.

$9,000 a month rent! totally insane. Covering rent, product and staff he has to sell a whole lotta food.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

More subpar food for downtown, as we march ignorantly towards Anycity, USA. Another uninspired restaurant utilizing Sysco "food" products. Yawn. Ignore it and it will go away. Been there once, on Zeeb, & it was not good. I'll stick to pies made at home & sandwiches from readable ingredients.

Ron Granger

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

According to Grand Traverse Pie's own ingredients, this is what they put into their cherry pie. How is this different than Kroger? Cherry Pie Ingredients: dough (water, flour [bleached enriched flour {wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine monoitrate, riboflavin, folic acid}], salt [salt, sodium silicoaluminate, dextrose, potassium Iodide 0.006%, sodium bicarbonate], shortening [partially hydrogenated soybean oil and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil with citric acid added as a preservative]), blueberry, flour (bleached enriched flour [wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine monoitrate, riboflavin, folic acid]), sugar, lemon juice (lemon juice from concentrate [water, concentrated lemon juice], sodium benzoate, sodium metabisulfite and sodium sulfite [preservatives], lemon oil), butter (pasteurized cream [milk], salt), apple juice (concentrated apple juice, water, ascorbic acid, natural flavors, potassium citrate, citric acid, caramel color), water, may contain: wheat, soy, milk, nuts This is what Zingerman's list as ingredients in their cherry pie: Michigan cherries, flour, real butter, sugar, milk, cornstarch, lemon juice, salt, almond extract, egg.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 10:02 p.m.

I think the Pillsbury dough is much better tasting then what you get over the counter. Two cans of Kroger canned cherries, a rather extra large pie crust and bake and bake an hour. Or you can make your own by adding simply? Cherries. Thats it. And the pie dough of course. Yummy.

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

I think Zingerman's pies, while surely tasty, aren't quite as good as Achatz's, so I do hope you give them a try when they open up...they taste great, aren't as price-y as Zingerman's, and aren't made with gross stuff!


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

Zingerman's is so over-rated. Grand Traverse Pie tastes better. That's all I care about.

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:36 p.m.

that's actually one of the less nasty ingredient lists of all their products too lol... and they do stuff like serve 'lemon bars' with 1100 calories each and looong lists of ingredients, all their food is clearly very very processes and laden with nasty transfats for the baked goods, ick.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

I can't wait for this to open. I went to the one in Plymouth last weekend and was pleasesd with the food quality, quantity, price and speed of service. I didn't even have pie! Mmmmmmmmmmm, pie...

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 9:22 p.m.

Oh, @barb, you mean like Ann Arbor is concerned lol, given what we're (for some, apparently) happily filling our downtown with now, sigh...


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 7:57 p.m.

or you could just go to the one at Zeeb and I-94 it's a lot closer


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

Ann Arbor Road. Yeah, let's all worry about Plymouth - they're so concerned about individuality there.

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

There's one in plymouth as well?! Is that one downtown or in a strip mall...I hope in a strip mall, for Plymouth's sake ;-)


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

Isn't there another pie themed business on Jackson rd too or am I thinking of something else?

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

yeah, it's *another* outlet of Grand Traverse Pie Company...if I were the Traverse Bay Chamber of Commerce I'd want them to change their name lol, they really serve a lot of processed nasty food... There are some serious calorie/transfat/nasty-ingredient bombs on that menu, wow! At least that's the only other pie themed place I know of near Jackson (just off it, on Zeeb)...

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

oops, never mind...I thought @Ron Granger's comments had been removed--but they're back up, so... Wow, check out the listing of ingredients in Grand Traverse Pie Company's stuff...I hate it when the face of it is all 'homemade' and such and the reality is the same as Hostess from the Diag Store for the most part! This link shows pdfs for their ingredients and their nutritional info: transfats *everywhere* yikes! <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> NYC wouldn't abide this menu lol...haven't they banned transfats or something?!

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:49 p.m.

Wait, @Ron Granger merely stated what can clearly be seen on the Grand Traverse Pie Company website--they don't admit to using canned fruit, but you can see that their ingredients include all sorts of preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, and so on...and it is implied in their listing of &quot;apples&quot; that it is canned, because it reads &quot;apples: (apple, water, citric acid, sodium...)&quot; Shockingly, they also seem to use splenda in pies that aren't listed as sugar-free?! Weird....


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.

With this and the planned Achatz pie outlet , Annarbor will become the pie capital of washtenaw county. In the immortal words of Jack Handy ( whose &quot;deep thoughts&quot; used to be featured on SNL): &quot; When you die, if you have a choice between regular heaven and pie heaven, always choose pie heaven....because mmmmm, pie!&quot;

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

Ew, really, @Ron Granger?! I always suspected that Grand Traverse pies were gross; thanks for the info. There's some false-advertising for ya! Achatz pies are yummy, from MI, and not made from canned fruit! Too bad the nasty chain wins the downtown spot, but hey that's how the rents stack the decks in this town!

say it plain

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 11:43 p.m.

Okay, @grimmk, that's fair enough... Are the fruits coming in via bags of frozen slices (for apples and peaches) and frozen berries? That would presumably explain the preservatives and additives in the listing for &quot;apples&quot; and &quot;peaches&quot; in their ingredients list. It is different from how it is made to seem like they make pies though, with orchard-fresh fruit lol! I'm sorry that no transfat-free version worked for the company, but other pie-makers *have* managed to work it out, just to say...


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

@ Say it Plain - I worked there at the Zeeb Rd for over a year. All the fruit comes in boxes and we store them in the freezer. Yes, the dough has lots of trans fats but they tried a trans fat free dough it it was a disaster! There might be additives in the frozen fruit, and we add in lots of sugar and flour for mixes that are mixed with the fruit. We didn't use Splenda when I was there, I think they are trying out something new. Only the mincemeat pies come out of a can. Yuck! But all the fruit pies come from frozen fruit.

say it plain

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 2:02 a.m.

Sorry to break it to you...look at their ingredients list on their website. For sure it seems the apples and the peaches are made with canned fruit, or fruit that is somehow first 'processed', because the ingredients list have apples listed like this: apples (apples, water, citric acid, ascorbic acid, calcium chloride), and peaches are listed like that too... they do list &quot;cherry&quot; plainly, without the additive parentheses, so maybe they use real cherries? But also for sure they list splenda in their &quot;natural apple pie&quot; and their &quot;natural cherry pie&quot;, which must be their low-sugar version. They also have a splenda-based pie labeled as such, but they ironically name a version of their pie sweetened with less actual sugar and some splenda in it as 'natural' lol. Unless you want to clarify what their own ingredient lists say?


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 1:43 a.m.

He is WRONG. They are made with real fruit Not cans. NO fake sugar. Just lots of sugar and flour.

Ron Granger

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

The filling in these pies comes out of a can. A pie company in the cherry capitol of the world uses canned cherries and canned apples. Sad. They should not be allowed to sully the Traverse City name. There are many places to get *much* better pie. Real pie.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 1:42 a.m.

They do NOT come out of a can! They come out of real fruit! I worked there for over a year. I made them everyday.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 9:56 p.m.

The best cherry pie is to actually get one from Traverse City during its cherry festival which runs the first week of July. I really need to get back up there and get me some. Their cherry wines aren't bad either. So, up I go for the cherry festival and in August the wine tasting fest. O my.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 7:16 p.m.

Nasty pies needs eating too!


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

Its good that someone is willing to risk his money in Downtown Ann Arbor with the ANTI-Business City Council.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

What are the business vacancy rates in &quot;anti-business&quot; Ann Arbor?


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:05 p.m.

I can get a 40oz at Diag Party Shoppe for $2. Perfect After-Pie Drink.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 7:15 p.m.

I just like saying &quot;pie&quot;.

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:33 p.m.

Lol, I hope that this starts a trend of people walking around with little paper plates holding slices of apple pie, like people walk around nyc with slices of pizza (pie)?! Maybe they can serve pie slices in those big waffle cones?! That would be kinda fun, I think ;-) A take-out 'window' for pie...if they can serve it warm on cold wintry days, it would be pretty sweet!

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 3:49 p.m.

Pie is the new cupcake ;-) NPR has officially 'called it' lol, so Ann Arbor should be seeing it asap ;-) <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Achatz is much better pie, not a chain (so far anyway!)...coming to Traver Village shops off plymouth... Wish they'd use wild blueberries and/or organic ingredients, but their pies are mmm good! (Hint hint: organic berry/apple pies would be a great niche for someone to fill! They're always listed as terribly pesticide-laden fruits, so using organic might fetch a premium!) I admit that I applaud any food trend that entails providing me with what is hard or time-consuming to make well at home--and pie falls into that category far more readily than cupcakes! Now if we could just get a real patisserie in town!

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

Oh, thanks, I'll have to check her out! I haven't been to the Farmer's Market in a long time and have never come across her spot there!


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

We have a real patisserie in town - go to the Farmers Market and get Cecilia Mercante's amazing french (she is french herself) baked goods.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

Thank goodness, a chain restaurant that serves generic, uninspired food is coming to the Liberty/State St area. We've been needing one there for a long, long time. Oh, wait...

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

Right, we shouldn't be down on a *Michigan* based franchise because the profit from marketing the same nasty foods that the non-Michigan-based chains sell to Americans and make them overweight, high-blood-pressured, diabetic (one can say the jury is still out on causing them cancer lol, but for some of their ingredients--like caramel color, it's not really out so much anymore!), would presumably go back to some folks in Michigan! And did I mention the transfats lol?! It's kinda gross that we're getting a new purveyor of the stuff in a big way right downtown, woohoo...


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

A Michigan-owned chain, no less. Horrors!


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

Though I wish any business much success, this location for this business is doomed to fail. This location has student foot traffic and I don't see a lot of students wanting pies. Though they may have other items on the menu, so do a whole lot of other places that students can frequent. With the closing of Borders, the adult traffic that might sustain this business is lost. If a burger business couldn't survive in this location, what does a pie store think it can do? Remember, this area loses nearly 15,000 students each summer.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 3:52 a.m.

I'm a student and I can tell you I will be goign there multiple times per month. I LOVE Grand traverse pie co.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:53 p.m.

This places is 'way more than pies. Sandwiches, salads, cookies and lots of other stuff. I'll bet it does well.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

I thought pie already had it's kitsch-ness with Twin Peaks?


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

You wouldn't believe how much pie I ate as a student.

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

Pie is one of the new 'hot' foods, I think! Like, replacing cupcakes and such. An Achatz pie place is opening on Plymouth...I like their pie even more, mmm. Funny,'s opening right next door to a Jenny Craig center lol... Perfect!


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

Their cherry crumble pie is the absolute best! Adding to the first post, after LeDog and Grand Traverse cherry crumble pie, I'd like to add a bag of chocolate covered cherries from Cherry Republic to graze on while walking around town.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 2:54 p.m.

Grand Traverse Pie Company has the BEST pies. I always pick one up on my way to the in-laws. I'm very excited that coming to downtown.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

Yay! I love pie. Not crazy about lemon meringue pie, but please don't take this as a personal attack on lemon meringue pie and remove my post ; )

Tom Teague

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:06 p.m.

As a lemon meringue pie lover, I am thrilled that you are leaving more for me.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 2:47 p.m.

I love pie. This will go well with the Le Dog nearby. Hot dog for dinner and pie for favorites!

say it plain

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

If you can bake a *good* pie for cheap than you should consider opening up shop lol! Seriously though, this might last a while if the pie-trend really takes off, but it will require *good* pies to fetch the money-per-slice! Kroger sells pies for like 4 bucks each through the year, so there's going to have to be *some* reason to come in and spend 7 bucks for a slice of it instead! Does Grand Traverse sell their pies whole to go as well? I presume that when Achatz opens on Plymouth, they'll sell their pies whole to go too, but that they'll offer some nice pie-accompaniments or soup/sandwich-plus-pie meal deals to entice you to open your wallet! Grand Traverse as I recall (been there once I think) has that Panera-bread franchise thing happening, so that experience will be more like Panera with pies instead of bagels and breads, pretty meh for some people (me included). But if they pump out pie-baking aromas into the streets they might still do okay, with folks who don't mind Panera anyway ;-)


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

sounds good but don't forget a drink with that...doesn't everybody wanna blow $15 to $20 on lunch? lol I can bake a pie for a less than the cost of one slice...but then again this is ann arbor where people pride themselves on the cost of their meal....