You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

10 predictions for 2013 in Ann Arbor

By Richard Retyi

We got through the Rapture and the last night on earth and whatever a fiscal cliff is, and here we are with a whole new year spread before us like virgin snow. What better time to take wildly unfounded shots at 10 predictions for 2013 in Ann Arbor. From food to finance to Punk Week, this faithful writer will give you a few things to look forward to in the new year (and maybe a few things to dread).


Mary Bilyeu, Contributor

You’ve Had Your Last Blimpy Burger

When the University of Michigan plunked down an estimated seven figures for the Blimpy Burger building on South Division, the clock started ticking on the last burger served at the historic corner location. For nearly 60 years, Ann Arborites have chowed down and been scolded at Blimpy Burger but come the summer of 2013, the grills will go cold and the building will likely be demolished to make room for parking. Though owner Rich Magner has said that they’ll look for an alternate location, I have a bad feeling that we’ve had our last Blimpy Burgers in 2013. Ann Arbor has a glut of burger joints and though Blimpy is an iconic brand (Proof? Check out the signed Guy Fieri poster inside!) it’s going to struggle at a new location, if it finds a suitable spot at all. Look, I like ordering a quad and getting yelled at because I don’t grab a tray too, but I don’t feel good about this one.

Punk Week: Back and Filthier Than Ever

Last summer’s Punk Week was Punk Weak. The mostly annual gathering of the nation’s “punks” didn’t happen in 2012 after an equally quiet 2011, except for the not really related shopping cart race, which went on as planned. The main reasons for the two-year lull stemmed from the events of the Worst Punk Week Ever in 2010, featuring multiple arrests, nudity and alleged public fornication. It’s widely believed that a number of out-of-town crust punks were to blame for the majority of the issues in 2010, leading to a clean-up of the “punk houses” on Main Street and a general crackdown on all things Punk Week related. Well, this summer marks three years since the happenings of 2010 and Punk Week will be back and filthier than ever. Even laxer local marijuana laws, global warming and TWO Five Guys locations are all the punks need to have one of their most successful (and peaceful) Punk Weeks of all time.


The shopping cart race will never die. Neither will Punk Week.

Introducing a University of Michigan Mascot

Remember the brouhaha last year when Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon semi sort of alluded to the fact that a University of Michigan mascot wasn’t entirely off the table?

“We’re interested in doing a mascot but it has to be something that fans love, that children love that everyone can embrace.”

OK, that reads less like a hedge and more like a “the mascot is coming, kids.” The University of Michigan has been Wolverine-clawed in the past with attempts at cuddly and not-so-cuddly mascots. There’s nothing wrong in principle with a mascot. They’re cute, kids love them and even when you have no idea what the mascot is, it’s hard not to want your picture taken with them. Or buy a hat with their face. Or a T-shirt. Or a onesie. Or a diaper bag.

And that’s what a mascot is really about. Revenue streams. I love the University of Michigan football team and their nine alternate uniforms, but after renting out the Big House for weddings, maximizing ticket revenues and coming up with the awesome all-you-can eat option for Yost, what additional streams of cash can the athletic department tap into to keep the stock price climbing in time for the annual shareholders meeting? A mascot. Hopefully better than Willie the Wildcat and this guy.

Ann Arbor Gets a Dive Bar

Ann Arbor’s craft cocktail scene is cresting. The microbrew scene is overflowing. Ann Arbor has college bars, pubs and a few places for wine, but what it lacks is another dive bar. The 8-Ball Saloon currently has a monopoly on the Ann Arbor dive bar scene. It’s dirty, it’s cash only, it’s got free popcorn and disgusting bathrooms and wobbly pool cues. In other words, it’s perfect. But it’s a dive bar, which means it’s small and intimidating and tucked away in an alley awash with old urine and cigarette butts.

Ann Arbor needs another dive bar and someone smarter and wealthier than me needs to have recognized this by now (I’m looking at you BTB guys). I love Manhattans as much as the next drunk, but enough with the cocktail bars and the charcuterie. Let’s get some Blatz and free peanuts and a jukebox and a few pinball machines and a pool table or two and get this party started in time for Punk Week.

Retailer of the Year: Biercamp

My love for Biercamp isn’t much of a secret. Their meats and made in Michigan products are perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, second dinner and post-workout snacks, but guess what they’re adding in 2013? Beer. Yes. Biercamp is going to become Beercamp (see what I did there?) with in-house brewed suds served by the growler. There’s no timetable on when this deal-changer will happen but this final piece of the puzzle will make Biercamp a can’t-miss destination for out of towners and a regular stop for all Ann Arborites. Even vegetarians (they have beans).

Thumbnail image for Biercamp Bacon.JPG

Hollywood Returns to Ann Arbor

Remember when Jason Segel, Emily Blunt and the actor who plays Trudy on "Mad Men" were in town a couple summers ago to film "The Five Year Engagement"? Remember when George Clooney was in town shooting that movie I never saw? Remember when Juliette Lewis looked like a 60-year-old Juliette Lewis impersonator hanging out in Ypsilanti when they filmed Whip It a while back?

Well, get ready, Ann Arbor—Hollywood is coming back in 2013. After a brief hiatus for big film incentives, Michigan is back on the map for moviemakers. Who will pay our fair city a visit? Who will tweet about Zingerman’s Deli this summer? Who will woo the local populace with their karaoke stylings and free-spirited Los Angeles attitude? Taylor Kitsch. Please, oh please, make it Tim Riggins. Just not Jason Segel, for the love of Oscar. He's broken too many hearts already.

Tim Horton’s Will Rule Ann Arbor

The coffee and cruller giant has already laid roots in Ann Arbor with a few satellite shops, but now that the first proper standalone Tim Horton's has opened on Ellsworth and State Street, say goodnight—Tim Horton’s will rule Ann Arbor. I’m Canadian. I know how this stuff works. We put down roots (John Candy, Dan Ackroyd, Phil Hartman), establish a regular standalone presence (Jim Carrey, Alex Trebek, William Shatner, Mike Myers) and then rule the school (Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Seth Rogen, Justin Bieber, OMG Taylor Kitsch again!). I love Zingerman’s Coffee and Roos Roast and even Biggby, but this is Tim Horton’s we’re talking about. Resistance is futile.

The Next Big Thing in Booze: Craft Moonshine

Let me take a step back and say that I love Ann Arbor’s craft cocktail saloons, notably Alley Bar, The Last Word and the Bar at 327 Braun Court. But muddled fruit and freshly crushed herbs and dashes of homemade bitters are so 2012. Let’s move to the next thing, Ann Arbor—craft moonshine. It’s not a new trend (see New York Times features in 2009 and 2010) but it’s a trend that’s starting to gain momentum in your local liquor stores. You used to order moonshine online and get a jar full of clear terror along with a complimentary Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia DVD (outlaw mountain dancing!) but today you can pick from any number of moonshine makers just down the street.

I’m no lawyer, and Googling “Ann Arbor Moonshine Laws” doesn’t result in any useful hits, but if Leopold Bros. could distill liquor a while back, why can’t one of my favorite cocktail bars follow suit. I hear all you need is a bathtub and a car with the doors welded shut. General Lee noise!

Downtown Home & Garden Does Something Else Cool

First it was Mark’s Carts, then Downtown Home & Garden went and created Bill’s Beer Garden. What’s next for 2013? Who cares! Mark Hodesh and his partners have added a cool new addition to our city each of the last two years and I have no doubt they’ll continue the trend with something new and awesome. A 50-foot tall statue of Lewis, the loveable Downtown Home & Garden tabby? Fire breathers? A super-duper lemonade stand? Something is in the offing. I can feel it.

Something Big is Going to Happen in Liberty Plaza

Downtown Liberty Plaza has has been home to Occupy Ann Arbor, Sonic Lunch and a number of ad-hoc protests, but something big is going to happen here in 2013. Bigger than Black Jake & the Carnies. Bigger than free bananas and pizza for the indigent. It could be a gigantic concert, it could be a gigantic rally, it could be jackhammers and mini hydraulic excavators tearing it a new one. The plaza has too much potential to be used solely for occasional events and infrequent skateboard video shoots. Bonus prediction: by the time the Ann Arbor Skatepark is complete, Tony Hawk will be mass producing hoverboards. You fought the good fight, hooligans. Better luck next century.

What are your thoughts on those predictions? Have any of your own? Share them in the comments and let me take credit for them!

Richard Retyi returns to with his new column Hidden Ann Arbor. Rich will write about the hidden side of Ann Arbor and the things locals take for granted. In his day job, Rich is a social media director for a digital marketing agency in Ann Arbor. Read more of his stuff at or follow him on Twitter.



Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 6:50 a.m.

Richard, as a Canadian, what's your stance on "Canadian" bacon? As a half-Canuck, I'm curious.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 1:45 a.m.

Back bacon is not the same as Canadian bacon. Back bacon has fat and is the standard bacon in most commonwealth countries. The bacon that is commonly eaten in the US is what we call "streaky bacon". Canadian bacon is more like a smoked ham to me....I'm South African. As for Tim Hortons, I totally agree - try an Earl Grey Latte and their donuts don't have that funky smell and flavor that so many other places have...for the life of me, I don't know what it is.

Richard Retyi

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

We called it back bacon in Canada, but, dirty little secret, I'm a first generation Canadian, so my parents didn't really raise me in a tradition Canadian household. Cuisine was Hungarian, we spoke Hungarian, I played soccer instead of hockey and rooted for the Cincinnati Bengals for some reason. But back bacon was a staple of a lot of cookouts. It's pretty delicious, but not treated like the breakfast bacon we eat a lot here. We'd put it on sandwiches and things. Back bacon is great.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:32 p.m.

Really good article, Richard, and thanks for mentioning two great places I've never heard of before!


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

I think Blimpy Burger will be okay but they might have to do some advertising. As for mascot, if UM decides to do that I hope they hold a contest for what kind of mascot to have. 8 ball saloon and biercamp I never heard of so thanks for mentioning them!

Richard Retyi

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 12:03 a.m.

Tizz, since it's difficult to profile you without an, um, profile, let me give you some additional assistance. Biercamp is awesome no matter who you are. Have at it. The 8-Ball Saloon however, maybe do a little research first. It's not for everyone.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 10:14 p.m.

I predict, that a few franchise restaurants will be added to the A2 scene, as it continues the steady fall to irrelevancy. It cost too much, and there is too many rules (regulations), for anything of substance to happen.

Richard Retyi

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

Bogie, I agree. Walgreens sounds like its coming and I imagine other chains will step in and snap up empty spaces and other businesses go under. I'm bummed for the loss of Shaman Drum and obviously Borders, but I'm not 100% against chains. I love Five Guys (sorry Shaman) and the downtown CVS is convenient. I'm torn. TORN.

A A Resident

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

A really fun and creative article, Richard.

Richard Retyi

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

Thank you A A Resident.

Charley Sullivan

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

Re: Tim Horton's. Being a rowing coach and all, and having spent way too much time in St. Catherine's Ontario where there is a Tim Horton's on every corner, I still have two words for you, at least as far as doughnuts are concerned: Washtenaw Dairy. Resistance is unnecessary, because fried dough covered with sugar (particularly of the maple variety) supremacy is already ours.

Richard Retyi

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

St. Catherines! I grew up 15 minutes away in Welland and I agree that Washtenaw Dairy is great. But I didn't predict the best coffee and donuts. I predicted domination. Does McDonald's make the best burgers? Does Taco Bell make the best tacos (that's actually a yes)? Winter is coming.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:29 p.m.

Good point, Charley!

Blue Marker

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

I'm calling Tony Soprano if Brandon goes through with the mascot thing. For someone who played for Bo Brandon doesn't seem to have a clue or care for Michigan tradition. I'll make a prediction; Brandon will push to allow "tasteful" advertising at Michigan Stadium in 2013. Book it Danno.

Rob MI

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

There's already advertising within the just hasn't made its way into the seating bowl just yet. Those "column wraps" in the concourses had ads on them. I wrote a very nasty diatribe about them in my season ticket holder survey. About that, the outrageous concession pricing, and that awful piped-in music that makes us no different than any other stadium.

Boo Radley

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

So ... when do the signs go up for "Tim Horton's Big House"?

Richard Retyi

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

So you're one of those who think that Tony lived after the screen went black on the series finale, huh? Oh, sorry - SPOILER ALERT!


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:29 p.m.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! lack of advertising is one thing that makes it better than other stadiums. You are probably right but I hope not.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

i have one to add. the art commission goes on a four vacation. the money in their account about a mil goes back to the city.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:28 p.m.

Interesting. I'd like to hear more about that.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

Good stuff. I agree with Lizzy. The Lunch Room will launch an amazing vegan restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor and it'll be all the rage.

Richard Retyi

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:55 p.m.

Wasn't aware that The Lunch Room was putting down roots. Joel is a great guy.

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

I agree about Biercamp. Beer and meat-- a duo that's hard to top. Also, I know there aren't motorcycles parked outside and men wearing nothing under their leather vests AND the drinks are 3X more expensive than a regular dive bar ANNNDD the bathroom isn't totally dirty, but Alley Bar is as close as downtown gets, and probably will ever get, to a dive bar. My prediction for Ann Arbor? We get one of those bazillion course, impossible-to-get-a-reservation underground restaurants ( that only those in-the-know Ann Arborites know about. (Or maybe I'm finally looped in?) Anywho, nice article!

Dr. Fate

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

(Oops, I meant to upvote Kellie's post, not downvote. Sorry!)

Richard Retyi

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

I adore Alley Bar, but it's anything but "dive-y", particularly on the weekends. We can hope and dream, right?

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

I mean closest Ann Arbor will get outside of 8-Ball


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

As for Blimpy? Depot Town and Main Street in Ypsilanti will more then welcome this icon in our little corner of the world. This and cheaper rent as well. I was there during December and feel this restaurant will fair very well here. Especially with very hungry EMU students. Good luck Blimpy.

Boo Radley

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

Blimpy moving to Ypsi sounds fine to me, but if I am going to Ypsilanti for a burger, I would still give Blimpy a pass and go to Sidetrack.

Richard Retyi

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 12:24 a.m.

Ann, I think there are tons of great things in Ypsi, but a bit of a burger void. There's Sidetrack and I assume that Wurst Bar puts some kind of animal into patty form (I'd eat anything they made) but a great burger place would do well. Other attractions: Woodruff's, Aubree's, Ugly Mug, Red Rock and the Ugly Mug.

Ann English

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.

If Blimpy relocates near EMU, perhaps a lot of people who can afford to eat out will decide that it's worth going to Ypsilanti to eat Blimpy Burgers, what with all the cheaper gasoline sold there; often the stations at Washtenaw & Cornell, Washtenaw Owendale make the Cheapest Gas Prices list at The station at Washington & Cross is a third station that often makes the list.

Richard Retyi

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:52 p.m.

That's a great idea! Blimpy would do great in Ypsi.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

Great idea jns131! call them and suggest it!

Top Cat

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

I concur with Casey Stengel who said, "I never make predictions, especially about the future."


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

Michigan had a mascot - his name was Whiskey - but it would be tough for UM to exploit and brand him even if he were alive.

Go Blue

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

Someone remembers Whiskey! That little dog was something special to see as he jumped out of the M box, rolled the ball down the field and made a touch down.

Richard Retyi

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:51 p.m.

You're right. Michigan has tried several mascots in the past. Check out this article by my good friend James Dickson: James' article is what sparked all the mascot talk last year.

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

Awesome, Rich. A few thoughts -- a new Blimpy Burger lease will take a miracle, you're right about Tim Hortons as they continue to circle the market like hawks, and great call on Mark Hodesh - he's always on to something! As for the dive bar, I agree we need another inexpensive, low key bar downtown (think Old Town), but I'm not so sure about the dirty part. :)


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

Right on, Lizzy

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

2012 was an amazing year for Ann Arbor in terms of development and business expansions. It's pretty incredible how many deals happened this year. 2013, I think, will continue that momentum, with more proposed developments and some new residential construction. As for what to look out for this year -- I think we'll see something happen with Briarwood Mall. The announcement of Michael Kors and other luxury brands opening really positions the mall for either an update or remodel of sorts. ( The redevelopment of Borders downtown and the opening of Arbor Hills Crossing are also both slated for this year. What does that mean? A retail boom in Ann Arbor after we saw retailers dwindling in 2011 and 2012, especially with the closure of the bookstore. On the topic - bad news for Barnes & Noble this holiday season and things aren't looking good. Watching to see what the company does next... Is it even a prediction to say more tech/software companies will either expand or move here? That's a big trend we're seeing and I think it will continue. (Especially if the city sells some of these downtown lots and we see some office space built downtown) And finally: I'm sending good vibes for The Lunch Room and the opening of their first brick-and-mortar restaurant. It'll happen this year.

Richard Retyi

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

I want a few predictions from you!


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.

Rich, while enjoyed your article, I have to disagree with your predictions for a Tim Horton's or a Dive bar. I think the Tim Horton's will fail just as every other fast food restaurant downtown has failed. Tim Hotron's menu is as unhealthy and tasteless as McDonald's. Their coffe is not nearly as good as many other choices downtown, though Tim Horton's is a little cheaper, I don't think they will be able to compete on coffee alone. Who want's to sit and study at a fast food restaurant? As far as Dive bars go, Ann Arbor will never see another until the real estate market allows for it. At $35 - $50 an square foot, no one in their right mind will attempt to sell PBR for $1.50 expect to be able to pay the bills. It cannot be done with the current rental market. No one can sell that much PBR. The Ann Arbor miocrobrew scene is ripe for renewal and take over. All of our microbrews are mediocre at best. Grizzly Peak, Blue Tractor & ABC are easily bested by the likes of Bell's, Short's, Founder's, Arcadia & others statewide. The food at those locations is noting to rave about either, being a step above a TGIChilliBees. I'd rather go to the Old Town or Casey's to eat better food & drink better beer at cheaper prices.

Richard Retyi

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

Anyone criticizing Tim Horton's coffee is 100% right. It's not great. But there's something weird about that place. The donuts, the coffee, the cups, Roll Up the Rim to Win. Guys, we're doomed.

Blue Marker

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 9:11 p.m.

I lived in Canada for a while (Hamilton) and from the front of my store you could turn your head to the left and see a Tim Horton's and then turn to the right and you could see a Tim Horton's. They are literally everywhere in Canada.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

I am not sure why, but Tim Horton is better in Canada then it is here in America. We go whenever we can to a Tim Horton. As for their coffee? It is a toss up between Dunkin Donuts and them. Otherwise, I can't wait to see one go up near EMU.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

I agree with you, Hendrix. Ann Arbor is not Detroit, and I don't see Tim Horton's doing well here. No offense to the author's love of all things Canadian, but Tim Horton's is just not very good. But then again, Ann Arborites are unpredictable when it comes to their food. For example, Zingerman's food is mediocre at best, but it's all about reputation. So if Tom Horton's can sell itself somehow (old school, green, gives back to the community, charges too much, creates some sort of fusion...), maybe it has a chance. Seems like AA folks need to feel something for where eat.

Richard Retyi

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

I'm Canadian, and I'm telling you, there's something about Tim Horton's that makes people mental. There are giant lines for the stuff, even at locations in Michigan. I used to work near the Ren Cen in Detroit, and every morning people would be lined up 20 deep for Timmy's when a nice, fancier coffee place was relatively empty not 50 feet away. As for dive bars, I'm not much of an economist, and I can see your point about cheap beer not paying the rent, but how does the Bling Pig and 8-Ball stay afloat? When I interviewed their booking agent for a different story, he admitted that the core business of those places is cheap drinks, not the music. I would love a place like the old Elbow Room, or a cross between Ypsi's Mr. Mike's, Powell's and Arthur's to plop down in a small space in Ann Arbor. There aren't many gaps in what Ann Arbor needs, but that's one of them. Thanks for your thoughtful comment by the way!

Steve Burling

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

Er, that would be Liberty Plaza. Liberty Square is the parking structure/office space just west of the Michigan Theater.

Richard Retyi

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

Thanks for the catch Steve, we'll make the change ASAP. I always think "Square" when I walk by the Plaza. I think it's long term damage from sleeping in a tent in the plaza for two weeks last winter. OCCUPY!