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Posted on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

Two restaurants to replace ex-White Market, College Shoe Repair spaces in Ann Arbor

By Lizzy Alfs


There are two new tenants for the former White Market and College Shoe Repair spaces in downtown Ann Arbor.

Photo from Colliers

The closure of two long-time businesses in downtown Ann Arbor is paving the way for two new restaurants to open: Firehouse Subs and Toppers Pizza.

Franchisees for both restaurants signed leases recently to take over the former White Market space and the adjacent College Shoe Repair space on East William Street near the University of Michigan campus.

The deals, brokered by Ann Arbor’s Colliers International, were triggered by the sale of the 6,500-square-foot building to Gus Boutsikakis last year.

Boutsikakis — who also owns property on Jackson Road and operates Uptown Coney Islandpurchased the building for $1.5 million in September 2011. Along with the two retail spaces, there are five student apartments on the second floor.

When Boutsikakis and Dave Jones, the long-time owner of White Market, were unable to strike a deal regarding White Market’s rent, Jones was forced to close the store in August. College Shoe Repair has been closed since 2010.

Now, the two spaces that were occupied by the same retailers for decades are transitioning to food use.

Boutsikakis, who couldn’t be reached for comment, pulled permits for interior demolition of the spaces, to install new windows, to install the Toppers sign, and for reoccupation. Construction work was under way at the building on Wednesday, and both retail spaces were cleared out from the previous tenants.

Toppers, which is opening in the former College Shoe Repair space, is a 47-unit pizza delivery franchise headquartered in Wisconsin. According to its website, the company is hoping to have 100 stores by 2013. This will be the first franchise in Ann Arbor.

Toppers’ menu consists of pizza, "topperstix," boneless wings, buffalo wings and grinders.

The Ann Arbor franchise owner, Mahmoud Baydoun, said the East William Street location was attractive because of the heavy foot traffic and proximity to a college campus. The goal, he said, is to open several more locations in the next few years.

“When I was in (Wisconsin) doing my training, the kids were going crazy over Toppers,” Baydoun said. “They love Toppers; they hang out in there all night and the music is on, the TV’s are on.”


A "Hook & Ladder" sub from Firehouse, with turkey, ham and Monterey Jack cheese.

Courtesy photo

He expects delivery will account for the majority of his business, which likely will stay open until 4 a.m. He hopes to open the restaurant in January.

Founded in 1994 by two brothers, Florida-based Firehouse Subs has more than 525 restaurants in 23 states and Puerto Rico, according to its website. There is one other Michigan location in Brighton. The menu consists of hot and cold subs, salads and sides.

A Firehouse representative could not be reached for comment regarding an expected opening date.

Just down the street from the new restaurants, the student high-rise Zaragon West opened its doors this fall to 200 students this fall. NeoPapalis pizza restaurant opened on the first-floor of the building on Wednesday. freelance reporter Laura Blodgett contributed to this report.

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


Andy Piper

Mon, Oct 15, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

The market will sort this out. These owners must have done some homework to determine that there is potential to make a profit. It should up the game of the existing players which is a good thing. Good luck to the new business owners, I hope you succeed.


Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 11:29 a.m.

Free market cycle - 1. Raise Rent. 2. High value / low profit tenets with character soon forced out. 3. Bland franchises move in. 4. Customer base collapses for lack of satisfying their diverse needs. 5. Bland boxes go bankrupt and leave behind big vacant space. 6a. High value / low profit tenets with character invited in to re-energize market value or 6b. Owner sells or 6c. Owner gets downtown development assistance from state and local politicians. 7. Hi-rises and hotels, tech and convention centres, government buildings and libraries complete with parking are built using taxpayer monies to add even more population density. 8. return to #1 until population explodes and plague occurs or WWIII wipes gameboard clean.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

It's sad White Market closed. They were really nice nd will be missed.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

Wonder if Baydoun knew there was a Dominos on the corner of that same block that couldn't stay in business. NYPD has a stronghold in that area, I don't see that changing for "late night music"


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

I would be mad if I were one of those new restaurants who signd leases with a landlord who doesn't care if both tenants have basically the same menu and will directly compete with each other.

Top Cat

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

And decent (or indecent) cajun food downtown.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

All the retail is disappearing from State St and downtown... this is really sad. We don't need any more pizza places or sub shops!


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

All new pizza and sub shops should be required to be on the same block. We can then put up banners, signs and Christmas lights and call it Little Italy. Soak the tourists and buy more art.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 11:20 a.m.

I thought that market was quite saturated, so time will tell how two more of the same will do.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 9:58 a.m.

My daughter lives in GA and loves Firehouse Subs. As for me I would probably try them if they were not down town. How about Arborland? Free parking too!


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 3:27 a.m.

What this town needs is a BeauJo's.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 2:28 a.m.

Lots of complainers here today. Look, it's really simple. If you think you have a better business plan or that something else is "needed" then go out and do it yourself. Yes, take your great idea, do your demographic research and convince a lender that you've got the next big thing. Then put in the years of effort, the countless nights and weekends, and the worrying about whether you'll make payroll or ever pay back your loans. Taking a risk is what these folks are doing and the snarky cynicism from anonymous second-guessers is unbecoming to say the least.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

SH: Nonsense. These two businesses had nothing to do with the other businesses leaving. The only difference is they are willing to pay the rent. If you don't like it maybe you should have spent the million-plus dollars to buy the building and then you could have rented the place at below market value. All of this is just supply and demand. It's Economics 101. Getting upset over another "pizza joint" or loss of one business for another is ridiculous and we should be happy businesses want to be in Ann Arbor and are willing to pay high rents to be here. Many of the comments posted are why outsiders think Ann Arborites are snobs.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 4:37 a.m.

on the other hand, businesses need customers. i am a customer and will frequent a businesss if there is value and a need/desire presented by that business. the number of counter service,quickie sandwich shop/chain or yogurt/ice cream/pizza shops is degrading the blocks in this vicinity.

Angry Moderate

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 4:36 a.m.

Nobody was "forced" out. The market is competitive.

Stupid Hick

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 3:53 a.m.

Yes, what an inspiring story! Two independent businesses are forced out, because the new owner of their building seeks higher rent, and two chain restaurants move in. Why isn't everybody cheering?

Milton Shift

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

Do we really need MORE restaurants? The downtown area has a severe shortage of shops selling anything useful and, of course, we have no downtown grocer.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:13 a.m.

This is so sad. At one time I owned the former Whyte (I think that was the correct spelling of the family name) home on S. Division. It had some unique features that survived when it was cut up for student apartments. Later, the Big U bought the property and tore the building down. Progress. Not always so good. The loss of a grocery store in the area will be hard to overcome. If the aim of the city is to increase residential occupancy downtown, they need to support somehow the businesses that people need to exist.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:45 p.m.

Maybe we'll be the next "Sicilian" Valley.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:03 p.m.

If the goal is to have long-term residency established in the downtown area, basic services must be nearby. Those include grocery stores, pharmacies, dry cleaners, sundry shops, etc. The urban village concept seems to have eluded Ann Arbor. Real people do no subsist on pizzas and subs.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 2:19 a.m.

Yes, but are college students real people?

Hot Sam

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:50 p.m.

You have to start with a plane ticket to get a better slice than NYPD...I've had Toppers in Indiana...if someone wants to wok their rear end off for a year and spend a bunch of money, I would recommend missionary work.

Hot Sam

Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 12:40 a.m. can always order a "fresh" pie...the "slices" are done that way in any slice joint...cut them some slack!

Soft Paw

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

No the pizza isn't microwaved, but sitting out on a counter until someone buys it and its reheated is not exactly fresh either.

Hot Sam

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

The reference to a microwave with regard to NYPD is evidence of a lack of attendance...


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

I would beg to differ. A microwaved slice of pizza from NYPD is not what I call quality.

Hot Sam

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

BTW...that would be "work"

Jay Thomas

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

I guess it really is no more than a food court.

Katie P

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:46 p.m.

Just what we need...more sub and pizza shops right between Jimmy John's and NYPD! Seriously, though, losing long-time Ann Arbor staples (White Market, Shaman Drum, etc.) for mediocre chain restaurants and luxury student high-rises is stripping Ann Arbor of the quirky, independent flavor that originally made so many of us fall in love with this place and want to live here. These changes are really disappointing.

Katie P

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

Kensington alum, I actually DID buy groceries at White Market when I worked in the area, but that's beside the point. You don't necessarily need to frequent a place to be sad to see it go. It's impossible to support and shop regularly at every store in Ann Arbor.

Kensington alum

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

OUt of curiosity - how many times in the past three years, say, did you frequent White Market and buy your groceries there? That is to say, while you appreciate the "quirky, indepedent flavor", did you actually support White Market with your money?


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

Well said, Katie P. I feel exactly the same way. The piling on of chain businesses and overbuilding of high-rises is slowly eliminating the character that used to define Ann Arbor. It's a shame.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

Absolutely wonderful. Another food joint. Ann Arbor is fast becoming the Disneyland food court for college students. I honestly hope both businesses fail. Not out of animosity for the owners, but out of hope that the failure of *yet another pizza and sub joint* will signal to potential developers that we're saturated with food in this town.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

GoNavy...Is this another crack about the medical marijuana laws?

Bob Loblaw

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:35 p.m.

I wouldn't necessarily hope for their failure. I just hope that people will soon come to understand the importance of variety and diversity in terms of downtown businesses. A large concentration of restaurants in one area is not good for a city.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

That's awful .... hoping for the loss of American jobs, the loss of tax revenues, income taxes, property tax revenues, unemployment tax payments, impact on the families of those losing jobs, health care impact, etc. etc. I rarely hear of something so heartless.

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Pizza Zone


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

Who needs shoes and groceries when we can all wear submarine sandwiches on our feet and eat pizza like the hi-risers.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

Wow, now I believe it when people comment that there are too many pizza places in close proximity. Silvio's is nearby, too. Survival of the fittest? Also, I'm surprised this sub shop seems to have nothing vegetarian.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

O come on now. Two more pizza and sub shops? How boring is that? Another reason to not frequent downtown Ann Arbor.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

A pizza place next to a pizza place? NYPD is on that corner.

E Claire

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

Good luck to both businesses! (and please understand that the haters on this site do not represent most of Ann Arbor and do not grasp that students eat a lot of pizza and subs)


Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

Yes, because there aren't enough pizza and sub restaurants already available to students. /sarcasm


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

Cheers to you! I think you are exactly right. The owner of Toppers already expects his business to be mostly delivery, so who cares if there are other pizza joints on the same street. And these businesses are hiring people and paying taxes - that's great news.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

I have no interest in another pizza shop or a sub store going in to this space. I happen to love NYPD and the Original Cottage Inn and would visit those establishments if i were in the area. I'm curious...were those the best offers that came along?

Frustrated in A2

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

I'm always game for a new sub shop even though I hate parking downtown.

Atticus F.

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

The reason rents are so high in Ann Arbor, is because every time a restaruant goes out of buisness, there is always another person willing to throw away their life savings on their 'brain child' buisness idea. It's usually the landlords that end up wealthy, and very rarely the small buisiness owner.

Jojo B

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.

Well we have a Sushi District on South U, so enter the Pizza District of East William! I'm just as shocked as others to hear of yet another pizza-type restaurant opening next to three others, but we'll see!


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

You've got to be kidding me. Another sandwich place AND another pizza joint... on the same street as two other pizza restaurants? Wow.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

Sorry to be a pessimistic grump, but both of these establishments are clearly doomed. That sub sandwich picture looks pretty generically sad. And pizza to compete with NYPD and Now Papalis.... Bad, bad idea. Maybe once they both fail, a real grocery store can move back in. Sigh.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

Whoopy. A new pizza place next to an established pizza place and another sub place next to an existing sandwich place. [yawn]

An Arborigine

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.

US Pizza List Magazine has now ranked Ann Arbor at #12 for highest concentration of pizza joints in one square block.

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 9:54 p.m.

Let's go for #1..............not


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

this area was very much in need of a pizza place. good choice.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Also, Cottage Inn is in the next block (West)...They have THE BEST pizza in the area!!


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

sarcasm, up.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

what about NYPD just down the street?


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

LOVE LOVE did I say LOVE Firehouse Subs - from my days in Roswell GA - These are THE BEST SUBS anywhere - Dibella's you now have competition.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

How imaginative! As if there are not enough chain pizza and sub places around. Ugly signage and mediocre fare ... This is not good news!


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

I feel the same way. With the new high rise there, perhaps another food market. White market was pretty old, so a new, fresh-looking market that you could walk across the street to might be better than an sub shop.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

I agree more than PLGREEN and Atticus F. combined.

Atticus F.

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

I was just going to make an identical comment, before you beat me to it.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

I couldn't agree more!