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Posted on Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week underway

By Erica Hobbs

The 2013 June Ann Arbor Restaurant Week is off to a good start, restaurateurs and patrons say.


Food is plated at Grizzly Peak during Ann Arbor Restaurant Week on Jan. 21.

Daniel Brenner |

Amid mild temperatures, patrons on Sunday enjoyed a relaxing opening to the twice-a-year treat where local restaurants offer discounted, fixed-price meals.

“It started at noon today and people kind of just started flooding in the second it started,” said Café Felix Manager Lindsey Fortino. “It’s been great so far.”

Fortino said Café Felix, a staple on the Ann Arbor Restaurant Week scene, has recently joined with other restaurants to offer two for one lunch specials for $15.

“It really gives people an opportunity to come in and try foods that they might not normally get the chance to have during lunch,” she said.

Some of Ann Arbor’s newer restaurants, however, are hoping restaurant week will help put them on the map.

“We’re still new, we haven’t been here a whole year, so [we want ]to get people to come and try us out,” said John Sleamon, general manager of Lena, which opened at the corner of Main and Liberty streets last summer.

Sarah St. John, who works for Frita Batidos, said this was the second time Frita’s had participated in Restaurant Week since opening in December of 2010.

She said the week has started off strong.

“Probably the first 10 customers we had today came in specifically for restaurant week, which is really exciting that it’s on their radar,” she said.

Frita Batidos is owned by Eve Aronoff, owner of the former eve the restaurant, which closed in January 2011. St. John said Frita’s offered a dual menu with specials from both Frita’s and eve last time, but said this time they are focusing exclusively on food from Frita’s menu.

Many people walking around downtown weren’t aware that Restaurant Week had started but said they were planning on visiting some of the participating restaurants later in the week.

Ann Arbor resident Adam Perry said he has participated in Restaurant Week for the past few years and said he likes to try places he’s never been before.

“Usually my friends and I try and hit more expensive restaurants that we might not actually go to for dinner and pay full price,” he said. “It’s a nice way to sort of sample on a budget a little bit.”

Salt Lake City resident Jenna Clark, who used to attend school in Ann Arbor, said she likes to take advantage of Ann Arbor Restaurant Week when she’s in town, especially the Italian restaurants like Gratzi and Palio.

“Typically it ends up being by chance that I’m here during restaurant week, because I haven’t lived in Ann Arbor since I graduated three years ago,” she said. “It just really ends up being a special treat the time that we’re here and I usually get to go to one place and enjoy the special pricing.”

Ann Arbor couple Tony and Sarah Drew said they have participated in Ann Arbor Restaurant Week nearly every year since they moved to Ann Arbor seven years ago.

They said they usually hit up old favorites, including Conor O'Neills, Grizzly Peak Brewing Company and Arbor Brewing Company.

“It’s absolutely wonderful and it really draws a lot of people in,” said Sarah Drew. “It’s a great, great week of fun, and it’s a great reason to try everything around.”

Restaurant Week runs through Friday night.

Erica Hobbs is a freelance reporter.



Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 3:46 a.m.

I spent a lot of time doing price comparisons----there is No major savings---only two places that actually was 2 for 28 were Sava's on Main and Prickly Pear---and both of those meals were excellent and a bargain. All other places I have sampled thus far have saved me maybe a $1-$2---come on----make this week what it should be.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 11:28 p.m.

While $28 may seem expensive, when you actually look at the menus offered, it's often a fantastic value. It's at least a 3 course meal plus dessert at a downtown restaurant. Restaurant Week, in addition to promoting downtown dining, also supports the independent shops in and around Downtown.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

It's also kind of annoying that they totally avoid Fridays and Saturdays. Detroit Restaurant week encompasses TWO weekends. Much more customer friendly.


Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 12:40 a.m.

Exactly. If the restaurants were truly about good food at good prices, rather than PR, then include Fri and Sat.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

also the webpage is kinda clunky needing lots of clicks, why can't all it be on one page, so it could easily be searched? You have to hunt to see if lunch or dinner is offered & if it's 1 or 2 meals for the set price.

March Hair

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Increasingly, Restaurant Week doesn't really seem like much of a bargain. Many of the offerings (especially at some of the more inexpensive restaurants) save you as little as a dollar. Even the higher-end offerings provide you with maybe a free dessert. I'm glad if the promotion helps local businesses - and it seems like it does - but from a consumer perspective, it isn't the great opportunity it's made out to be.


Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

Well stated, March Hair. My wife and I have participated in past years, but increasingly the offerings have become less and less a good deal for customers. It's become more PR for the restaurant. In addition, the highest profits are made on the appetizers, desserts and drinks, not entrees. Automatically including appetizers and desserts on RW menus means higher profits, but not necessarily the best meal for $28. I agree with other posters that paying $25 for an entree and not ordering an appetizer or dessert is a better deal for the customer, especially given that the restaurant will choose the less expensive offerings to put on their fixed price Restaurant Week menus. We've decided it's more about hype now rather than good food at good prices.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

Agreed wholeheartedly. And oddly enough I find that a $28 dinner seems like a lot less of a deal than a $25 dinner. Further, as I usually don't order an appetizer and dessert, meals during Restaurant Week often cost me more than meals any other week. My willingness to participate in Restaurant Week thus revolves around something interesting happening (i.e., a special menu). Last year Vinology, for example, created a menu that they don't offer during the rest of the year. I had a dessert as part of that that was mind-blowing. So there I maybe wasn't getting a good deal in terms of money, but I was getting a special experience.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

I agree. The whole idea seems to be about bringing people in town for specials at these places, but the eateries simply see it as a way to make larger profits during this week. I am a downtown regular but stay away during this time.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

Has anyone tried a restaurant week menu yet? Curious about some feedback. The ABC menu caught my eye - especially since the Taste of Ann Arbor carrot tahini wrap is on it.


Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

Vinology's lunch menu was great! Even better paired with a glass of wine. Drinks are discounted during happy hour.

Sunward Cohousing

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

Looking forward to it!