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Posted on Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:45 a.m.

Slurping Turtle noodle house coming to ex-Borders building in downtown Ann Arbor

By Ben Freed


The legacy of the former Borders flagship store continues to be reinvented as new restaurants like Slurping Turtle sign leases to move into the downstairs retail spaces.

Ben Freed |

Tech hub, meet foodie hub.

Iron Chef America participant and Chicago-based restaurateur Takashi Yagihashi announced Monday that he has signed a lease for 5,296 square feet in the former Borders flagship store to open a Slurping Turtle restaurant.

The new restaurant will join Knights Steakhouse in the first floor of the landmark downtown building as the space begins to take on a theme of expanding Ann Arbor’s downtown culinary offerings.

Yagihashi owns two restaurants in Chicago, Slurping Turtle and Takashi. He has previously expressed interest in bringing Slurping Turtle, his Japanese tapas and noodle house concept, to Ann Arbor, but said in January that he was still negotiating a lease.

According to the restaurant's website, menu offerings at Slurping Turtle include sashimi, a "bincho grill," a range of noodle dishes and "bento brunch."

Before moving to Chicago, Yagihashi was the chef for eight years at Tribute in Farmington Hills. The restaurant, which closed in 2009, was lauded by the New York Times as “maybe the best restaurant between New York and Chicago.”


Takashi Yagihashi has been interested in bringing Slurping Turtle to Ann Arbor for more than 6 months. He found his location in the former Borders flagship store downtown.

From Facebook

Jim Chaconas and Brendan Cavender of Colliers International Ann Arbor represented both landlord, Hughes Properties, and the tenant in the deal. Ron Hughes, the owner of Hughes Properties, has previously said that the first floor is being subdivided into five restaurant and retail spaces.

Cavendar said the building owners hope to hand control of the spaces over to the tenants by early fall with restaurants opening as early as January of 2014.

Yagihashi won a James Beard award in 2003 and has appeared on multiple television shows including “Top Chef Masters.”

Office space in the landmark building on East Liberty Street is completely filled with companies and schools focusing on data and information. Barracuda Networks, PRIME Research North America and the University of Michigan School of Information have combined to lease approximately 65,000 square feet and they expect to have approximately 500 employees in the building within the next five years.

The building had been vacant and under renovation since Borders closed the store in September 2011 as part of bankruptcy proceedings.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Get in touch with Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Frankly, I'm disappointed. I love Japanese food, but Slurping Turtle offers pretty much the same food/experience as Totoro,, and Kuroshiro, offering over-priced bentos ($18?!?!) for lunch. It's glorified catering food in a saturated market. What a cluster. Mark my words, I really don't see it doing well. I'd rather go to Tomukun, where they actually offer something different/new.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

As long as I don't have to watch a turtle slurp or being eaten, I am interested. Although the cost is what is going to have me avoiding this place.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

Borders had a poor business model. It essentially was a library. Who really bought anything?


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

There are about 5 good restaurants in all of Ann Arbor,so bring it on. Hope there's room for Tomukun. It's a good spot.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

Pop quiz . Not including Dominoes Pizza. Or Knight's, which people already knows uses quality chicken from Michigan and processes their own beef, out of the over 300 chowhouses in town, how many use Michigan made foods? local produce? Does this matter when selecting a place to mouth mingle with your cohorts? And yYes, Michigan also has fish. Hmmm. Very interesting answers for such a DDA "progressive" population.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 11:12 a.m.

Glad to see more adult restaurants - please do not even compare this to Noodles & Co But agree we need some browsing places other than tshirt stores. Unfortunately I think tge Internet has destroyed brick and mortar stores especially independent ones


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:37 a.m.

Taking bets Liberty will soon be closed to cars on that block to service all the tables for those eateries crammed into one space. (see LED light bulb pop up over the DDA and their""progressive" buddies little heads). Oops. How will all those food delivery trucks get through? And all of those limos and Glacier Hills senior buses make it up to the Michigan Theater? Scratch the plaza block party. Now taking bets on a one-way single lane down Liberty to Maynard (or even Thompson or even Main. Wow Mr. Mayor! All the way out to Zeeb Road! Wait a minute, the DDA doesn't own out to Zeeb). (see LED light bulb dim slightly over the DDA and "progressive" buddies little heads).

Oscar Lavista

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 3:35 a.m.



Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

Borders closed?

Huron 74

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:39 a.m.

Slurping Turtle, noodles? How about some turtle soup? At least Knights will offer some real food.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 11:17 p.m.

Will these noodles be cut fresh for my order? Apparently in real noodle cultures, nothing less passes for good. And you may have seen the robots that can perform the repetitive task. Personally, I want a drone that can shoot the food into my mouth.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:26 p.m.

Is this going to be TURTLEY ENOUGH FOR the Turtle Man? YEEEE!


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10 p.m.

"Browsable retail" is good. Think a mixture of 16 hands, Flax clothing, local artists' affordable, unique gifts, Downtown Home and Garden eclectic. A good retailer will have a finger on the pulse of the local and out-of-town shoppers and offer a variety that is fun to look at, a destination for gift buying, and a little bit practical.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

Would have preferred to see a large retailer go in there especially because there are a couple young and local entrepreneurs across the street - Tomukon, that will likely be hurt by this (although I hope not). Not sure this is the best news.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

More desireable than Farmington. More delectable than Chicago. Ann Arbor's Slurping Turtle. Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor. That's our kinda town... So, let's see. Who's next on the "Chicago Get List" : Archer Daniels Midland Co. ($90B) Boeing Co. ($81B) Walgreen Co. ($71B) Caterpillar Inc. ($65B) Abbot Laboratories ($39B) Got any room left at Border's for some airplanes?


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

I agree, this is another stupid and very "off putting" name. What is it? You figure your foods so poor you have to do some tricky name to get people to come in? We've had puking dogs and now slurping turtles! Well with a name like that I wont go in no matter how cool you think you are.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 6:17 p.m.

Maybe they'll open a mcdonalds for you.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 8:54 p.m.

Helps to know something about Japanese culture and the implications of the name as it relates to the food. I'm sure you not going in because of their name is going to be rough. Debbie downers are so boring.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

Yikes, guy. Slurping is an accepted part of other cultures - some variety is a good thing.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

Did Ann Arbor really need another noodle place?


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:22 a.m.



Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

Um, Ann Arbor doesn't have a good noodle place now - mentioning Noodles & Co. in the same breath is a joke. People stand in line for good ramen in Japan for HOURS - this is good food NOT found in any other form in town now.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

This isn't in the same category as Noodles & Company, though. This is kind of high end, not part of a giant chain, and serves a lot more than just noodles.

Jojo B

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

I agree and I'm surprised that nobody said it sooner. Just like the gourmet burger craze a few years back, the sushi restaurant craze, and the new pizza district craze, enter the "noodle place" craze. There's only room for so many, so let's see who is still standing in a year.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

Great idea. STUPID name!


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 6:04 a.m.

I agree @bta2 the name is disgusting. Who wants to eat next to slurping?


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

It actually is a PERFECT name for a Japanese noodle restaurant. I remember the first time I was in Japan and was SHOCKED at the noise coming from all the patrons. Apparently what seems to westerners as excessively loud eating is that way they show their eating pleasure. No gentle placement of noodles into your mouth, but a giant SLLLLUUUUUUURRRRRRP! Super excited.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

This is good news but would still like to see some kind of bigger retail store in the mix.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

I hope the new places can bring back the vibe from the Border's days, when the homeless used to have cocktail parties in the second-floor rest rooms.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

It's a big Noodles day! Companion story about Noodles & Company and now a turtle that slurps noodles! When will we top-out on our noodles Jones? Imagine the carbs!


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

This is all good news. I expect that all this activity will have unexpected problems, but I'd rather deal with "growth" issues!


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

This certainly negates recent claims by Jack Eaton and his political ilk that Downtown is not attracting young people or exciting businesses. Previous progressive council members, the DDA, and the downtown merchant associations have set the stage for all these newcomers and it's evidence that Downtown is the place to be.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

There seems to be a strong turn-back-the-clock mentality when it comes to downtown. I love Greenfield Village, I even bought the year membership. But I don't think it represents the right direction for downtown Ann Arbor.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

The issue is not that this space was characterized as "a food court" by Jack Eaton. The issue is that Steve Kunselman dismissed all of downtown as "a food court." This comment was meant to mock downtown, appears to exemplify an attitude among the conservatives on the council in which a vibrant downtown Ann Arbor is simply not a priority for them. A vibrant downtown Ann Arbor is critical to the entire region, because it is a hub for the region. It is what sets us apart from the has-been urban sprawl that has helped to give the rest of our region such a bad reputation globally.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 6:02 a.m.

What are you people talking about? I have been listening to Mr. Eaton pretty closely and have never heard such a thing. As for the characterization of this space as a food court, is it that far off? Five restaurants under one roof sounds pretty much like a food court, no matter how great the food is supposed to be. Is it ok to call it a 'foodie hub'?

Jack Eaton

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

@ StraightTalk, are you suggesting that I am anti-noodle? I have never said that the downtown is failing to attract young people. I have said that while we were promised housing for young professionals and empty nesters, we have instead gotten high rises for students. The addition of this fine noodle outlet to our growing downtown food court does not change that assessment for me.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

Of course if my money is not wanted, I would invite Kunselman, Peters, Kailasapathy, and Lumm to please write me a check.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

Excellent point. When people like myself drive 45 minutes from the surrounding area into downtown A2 a few times a week for entertainment, that is money coming into the community. It is a shame to hear people like Steve Kunselman, and his bring-back-1955 alliance, mock this wonderful success as "a food court."


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

Wow, my office is also moving into this space in the fall, and reading about all these great restaurants going in is making me even more excited. I better start saving money now since it looks like I'll be eating lunch out a lot more!


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

Seekingsun hit it on the head. "Browsable" retai is exactly what's needed. (Of course the owners need it to paying browers/shoppers too...)


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

I had hoped that Crate & Barrel would come in and take the entire space. The current mix of restaurants, however is excellent. Worst case scenario would be a Micky D's or other generic fast food. Still wish for some "browse-able" retail. Borders & Shaman Drum were awesome places to hang out if you needed 15 minutes or a 1/2 hour before a movie or meeting someone. The gift shopping options for campus now are limited only to Caravan, since John Leidy left. Of course, I still miss Jacobson's being in that space....


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

@Ben Freed: I think that what this area of town is missing is a decent-sized bookstore. At least that's what I miss most. That being said, obviously we didn't appreciate Borders enough - not enough to financially support it anyway. It's too bad that Nicola couldn't be drawn downtown. But at these rents, who can blame her for not taking that chance? It's good to hear that so many people are excited about Slurping Turtle. But for my money, another eatery exactly what downtown Ann Arbor doesn't need.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 1:15 a.m.

I loved Borders downtown and do miss it. On the other hand I love Nicolas and am glad that she is staying on the westside and thriving!


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

I really should correct the impression I left with my earlier comments. Without question, Borders was overextended nationally and locally. Even given that, I do think it's debatable as to how well a single book store the size of Borders #1, in that same location, would be patronized by paying customers today. After all, no other store rushed in to fill that void.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

Claiming Ann Arbor didn't support Borders enough is likely not true; it was a failure of the chain as a whole, brought about by poor strategic decisions. I'm sure the sales at the Ann Arbor locations were more than adequate to support those stores, even in the later chain days when they weren't as good as they used to be. They just wouldn't have been enough to carry the entire Borders organization.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

I know that we Ann Arborites loved Borders #1. No doubt about it. And for sure the biggest share of the blame for the closure goes to the corporation, not the employees or most of the people who miss the store. But the precarious financial position of big brick and mortar bookstores is well documented, and a good part if not most of that is due to the change in the buying habits of the book (and cd and dvd buying public. I would go into Borders #1 several times a week for years before it closed, and for the last few years the store would be nearly empty of people - and this was way before the stock started to shrink. The internet took a lot of the business away, no doubt about it.

Jojo B

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

JSS -- We most certainly appreciated Borders! At least what it was in the early 2000s--a book store that had everything in stock and people working there who really knew their stuff. Their CD and movie selection was also very good. They lost their way near the end and started downsizing what they had in stock (a computer library that was once 10 shelves compressed to 2 shelves) in favor of selling chotchkies and making more open space upstairs for free concerts, in addition to raising prices significantly for non-members, and opening up 2 more theme-based Borders in short order. (Anybody remember that the Saline Rd. Borders was the "vacation" Borders?) And our Borders didn't close because of what Ann Arborites did; this was their national problem of losing touch and over-expanding.

Jessica Webster

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

Have you spent any time in Literati yet? Comfortable store, good backlist and new releases. I have enjoyed the time I have spent there.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

I think the Borders at this particular location did just fine -- it was the rest of the company that wasn't doing well. But in any event, I vote for a bookstore too.

Ben Freed

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

Obviously this is an exciting time for the foodie crowd. What would you like to see fill up the remaining three retail spaces? (Restaurant and retail options both acceptable)


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

@BobbyJohn, I know about Mercy's, and while it is reputedly "Burmese inspired," it's not even close to being a real Burmese restaurant. Ann Arbor does not have one, and it needs one.

Melanie Maxwell

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

It's my not-so-secret wish that someone will open up a killer salad bar downtown. #eatmoregreens :)


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

fjord A2 already has a burmese accented, upscale restaurant in Mercy's, across, on the west, from Hill Auditorium


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:20 p.m.

Really good Vietnamese.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:20 p.m.

Asian bakery. With Horlick's, please.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

Um, Blimpy's?!


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

- I'd like to see 16-Hands in one of the retail spots instead of at Kerrytown - with some additional fun "Acme Mercantile" type gifts and goodies. - I 2nd the need for good Indonesian food in town - GOOD Asian bakery outlet (since space is an issue) that is also a dim sum/lunch place. - Non-Coney diner/breakfast place...that uses REAL butter instead of low-melt/oleo, homemade pancakes, in-house-made soups, etc.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

Yeah books! That's what we do around here. Liberty & State ain't the same if I can't browse!


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

If we're going to do that kind of thing, I'd like to see Indonesian (though again, not necessarily with those rents).


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

Ann Arbor really needs a Burmese restaurant ... though not necessarily in that building.

Jason Colman

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

In the caption, I think you meant "Slurping Turtle," not "Sleeping Turtle."

Ben Freed

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

Thanks Jason, it's been fixed.

Jessica Webster

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

This is terrifically exciting news. If the prices are comparable to Takashi's Chicago location, it will be a bit spendy for a regular lunch destination, but I am looking forward to checking it out.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

This. is. excellent!


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

Now, this is a Borders-replacement-restaurant concept I can get behind! Takashi in Chicago has offered a wonderful dining experience for years, and I'm excited to have the same kind of thing here.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

I don't recall loud music, but place was packed, and a large crowd will make for a loud dining experience no matter what. I dined solo at the bar, so I wasn't trying to have a conversation with anyone. Think busy, hip urban restaurant. Fun, but not relaxing. At least not at lunch time. Like I said, a very different atmosphere from Takashi, which I've also eaten at.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

Thanks Jessica. Sad to hear that, although apparently there are many adults who cannot eat without loud adolescent boom boom to accompany their food. I just spent 2.5 weeks in Paris and not a SINGLE place I ate or drank at had any music at all. It was heaven! Cafe's, bars, restaurants, only filled with the sound of people talking, not screaming, and without wining signers. Of course, I am sure you can find loud places, but I was fortunate. Many were filled with Americans who somehow managed to cope without the sound track and lived to tell the tale.

Jessica Webster

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

PersonX - I've been looking at the Yelp reviews for the Chicago location, and it does appear that loud music might be an issue.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

Oops. I was exited until I read about "high energy." Does that mean loud music? Ugh


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Slurping Turtle is a different experience from Takashi. The Chicago Slurping Turtle is more high energy, where Takashi is the quiet fine dining experience.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

So happy to hear about this. I was selfishly hoping he was going to open in the downtown area as opposed to some of the other options being discussed. Between this and Knights it looks like I will be dining out a short walk from home more often!