WITH POLL: Top 5: Chain restaurants that we'd like to see open next in Ann Arbor area
Real estate experts say chain restaurants are likely candidates to enter the Washtenaw County market thanks to these new availabilities — and the improving economy, which can make existing vacant sites viable again. (The success of places such as Five Guys Burgers on South State also resonates across real estate circles.)
Not everyone in Washtenaw County values a chain restaurant. We're seeing some new independent openings in the area — Satchel's BBQ for one — and Arbor Hills Crossing developers expressly say they want independents in the center.
But amid the conversation about potential chains that could open here comes some hope that certain favorites are on the list.
Here are our leading contenders for the names we’d like to see as part of the next wave of local chain restaurant openings:
2. SONIC Drive-In: The last rumor to reach our ears circulated last September, when Sonic employees in another market started talking about a local location opening soon. We never nailed down whether that was Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti — a leading contender in the rumor mill was an outlot at Glencoe Crossing in Pittsfield Township. Sonic said at the time that the franchisee didn’t have “new information to share.” And the company has stopped responding to requests for information, so there’s nothing new to report.
4. Cheesecake Factory: This chain offers more than the namesake (and delicious) dessert. From breakfasts (goat cheese omelet is an option) to made-from-scratch dinners (so the Web site touts), plus a full bar, the chain is a favorite due to the experience it creates for diners. It doesn’t operate in Michigan yet, but we keep hearing that it would be a good fit for Ann Arbor, which seems to make the most of its discretionary dining dollars.
5. Any of our favorites from trips to Florida: These chains aren’t only located in the Sunshine State, but Washtenaw County’s many snowbirds get a chance to try all of them during winter months — and they’ve all got fans here. Chick-fil-A, Waffle House, Miller’s Alehouse, Chevy’s Fresh Mex, Texas Roadhouse — bring ‘em on. We think they’d compete well with the area’s existing chain lineup.
Take a look at our poll to let us know which you'd pick, and comment below if you'd like to share your thoughts.