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Posted on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 3:15 p.m.

Saline's former Kelly's restaurant space to become Italian eatery after sale

By Nathan Bomey

The long-vacant downtown Saline restaurant property once operated as Kelly’s and Saline Café will be revived later this year as a new Italian restaurant after the property was sold this morning.

Pete Toarmina, owner of Mickey’s Dairy Twist on the western edge of the city of Saline, and five other family partners closed a deal this morning to buy the  former Kelly’s property.

The Toarmina family plans to renovate the 6,000-square-foot first-floor space and reopen it within three to six months as a family-friendly Italian restaurant with a new name.

Kelly's and Saline Cafe.JPG

The downtown Saline property formerly occupied by Kelly's and Saline Cafe will be revived as a new Italian restaurant.

Lon Horwedel |

The transaction marks the culmination of a five-year effort to sell the property, which has been empty since Ann and Brad Beach closed Kelly’s and the Saline Café in December 2004. Kelly's, the bar portion of the operation, and Saline Café shared a kitchen and were operated jointly.

Toarmina told today that the family ownership group had yet to settle on a name for the new space, in part because the deal came together in a matter of a few weeks. He said it was tempting to keep the Kelly’s name because of its visibility on Michigan Avenue and the strong reputation of the former owners.

“It’s almost a shame to change it,” he said. “But you’ve got to make it your own. The atmosphere here is great. I really like the way it just has a ‘Cheers’ atmosphere, but we will be changing it to something that is more fresh and new.”

Toarmina said the space is in excellent shape - so much so that it could open immediately if that was desirable. For example, linens and silverware were still neatly set on the tables, he said.

But he said the ownership group plans to refurbish the space, adding new fixtures, painting and installing new carpeting.

The family hopes to open the restaurant soon after receiving liquor license approval from the city and state, a process he expects to take up to six months. Pete Toarmina and his sisters Mary Sheko and Rose Tolson are partners on the new restaurant ,along with their spouses.

The storefront’s revival will add sorely needed foot traffic to downtown Saline. It’s the fourth restaurant downtown, joining Mac’s Acadian Seafood Shack, Brecon Grille and Dan’s Downtown Tavern.

“We’re getting some walkable traffic, which is really good for our downtown,” Saline Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Larry Osterling said.

Toarmina said the restaurant is not to be confused with Toarmina’s Pizza, a small chain of restaurants in southeast Michigan that is owned by Toarmina’s brother. He said his downtown Saline restaurant would offer Toarmina’s brand pizza on its menu but that the restaurant itself would not be called Toarmina’s Pizza.

Toarmina said the ownership group is also considering ways to offer Mickey’s Dairy Twist brand ice cream at the downtown location.

But he emphasized that the Mickey’s Dairy Twist on Michigan Avenue in western Saline - which he and his wife have owned for 16 years - would continue to operate as usual.

“It’s a good, viable business,” he said. “Mickey’s is not going anywhere.”

The ex-Kelly’s space was listed by Ann Arbor-based Swisher Commercial agent Tony Caprarese on behalf of Ann and Brad Beach.

Ann Beach’s parents, Herb and Joyce Gaudet. launched Kelly's in the early 1980s. Ann Beach, who was not available for comment, tried to market the facility for a few years on her own before hiring Swisher to market it.

Caprarese declined to reveal terms of the deal but said the listing price was $899,900 at one point several years ago. However, the price was gradually lowered over time - and in March the price was lowered to $399,900 for the property and $50,000 for the liquor license and equipment. That move induced a flood of interest, he said.

The deal includes 10,000 square feet of space on the second and third floors of the space (103, 105 and 107 W. Michigan Ave.).

“People look at it and become really enthusiastic about the perceived potential the upstairs space had for development purposes, whether it be commercial office or residential apartments or high-end condos, and ultimately the real estate was priced based on that perceived value,” Caprarese said. “Basically we had to reposition the property and lower the sales price to reflect current market conditions and market the property based on the value of the usable space, which was basically the first floor.”

Toarmina said, though, that he was optimistic that the upper-floor space could be renovated and repositioned for use by new tenants.

“We will be looking for tenants for the upper floors almost immediately,” he said, adding that the upper-floor space isn’t in bad shape.

Contact’s Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or or follow him on Twitter. You can also subscribe to Business Review's weekly e-newsletter or the upcoming breaking business news e-newsletter.



Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 6:52 p.m.

Mickey's has wonderfully pleasant window servers and I am certain superb service will be a hallmark of the new restaurant. The owners really know how to choose and train their helpers! And talk about spotless... Mickey's just shines. Ms. Toarmina is one of the nicest people around and I join the throng to say my wife and I will be "regulars" at the new place. And THANKS to NATE BOMEY for a great job on this story. Nate is a Saline product and has done very well for himself!

David Rhoads

Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 4:18 p.m.

I am really pleased to see the Toarminas have the courage to step up and open a new business in our downtown. They have a proven ability to run a restaurant and I wish them all the success in the world. My wife and I had our first date at the Saline Cafe so it has especially fond memories for me. I wonder if the bar section will be renamed "Pete's Place"? Sounds good to me.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 9:31 a.m.

Fantastic news. Congratulations to the Toarmino's!


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 8:37 a.m.

I live near Tecumseh and I can't wait. This is indeed good news.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 7:28 a.m.

This is great news for Saline!


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 7:13 a.m.

This is good news, I never understood why someone didn't buy it. I knew something had to be going on when I saw lights on the other day, and then the windows were shaded yesterday. This is good news. Italian, that is a good addition to the area and will draw people downtown away from the Ruby's and far east side pop-ups are drawing people away. This may be good timing and here is hope that Marketplace gets it's financing approved so it can build off this great news.

Sherry Knight

Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 7:11 a.m.

Congratulations to the Toarmina family! We look forward to your opening.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 6:53 a.m.

That is a great price for that building. It was appealing at even a higher price. The shared kitchen and the basement was an issue - but for that listed price those things can be overlooked much easier.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 9:15 p.m.

Put the Whitefish on the menu... one of my favorites at Kelleys


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 9:07 p.m.

I never could understand why that space was vacant for so long given the location, but now it's obvious that it's been priced over market. Hope it's reasonably priced for most families...Best of Luck to the Toarmina family from a City of Saline resident.


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 8:10 p.m.

Best of Luck! Great to have another family run operation in town!!


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 7:52 p.m.

Wow we need this wonderful news in Saline. Thanks Toarmina family... I can't think of more perfect owners... great, just like Mickeys! We will be there DAY ONE!

Mom in Town

Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 7:23 p.m.

So glad to see! My family and I loved Kelly's, and I am wishing the new owners the best of luck! We will definitely be there!!


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 7:19 p.m.

Good Luck Toarmina & Gang! We'll be there on Opening Night!


Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 2:21 p.m.

Kelley's 103 had the best ceasre salad around.