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Posted on Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Selma Cafe to open for brunch at new location after troubles with city codes

By Amy Biolchini


The communal dining room at Sunward Cohousing in Scio Township that Selma Cafe will use for brunch June 22.

Courtesy photo

Two months after locavore breakfast salon Selma Cafe ceased its operations out of the west side Ann Arbor home of co-founder Lisa Gottlieb because of city zoning code violations, the outfit has found a new location to serve up brunch.

The first brunch will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 22 in the kitchen of the common house at Sunward Cohousing at 424 Little Lake Drive in Scio Township.

“I’m thrilled and excited,” Gottlieb said. “I got a lot of really lovely cards and notes and letters and messages from people who really loved Selma Cafe, talking about how much it meant to them and how hopeful they were to open it again.”

Sunward Cohousing is an intentional community at a condominium development in Scio Township. Residents share meals, maintenance chores, host their own social events and have their own way of governing the community.

Selma Cafe will operate much as it did from Gottlieb's home at 722 Soule Blvd. in Ann Arbor: The kitchen and wait staff will still be volunteers, and volunteer guest chefs will coordinate the menu.

The kitchen in the common house at Sunward is attached to the large dining area that Gottlieb described as open, airy and surrounded by windows. An attached deck and patio area also will offer outdoor seating, weather permitting.

There is ample street parking at the community, as well as a dedicated bus route and a bike path. Gottlieb said she's encouraging people to carpool.

For the June 22 meal, the guest chefs will be Dan Vernia of Juicy Kitchen Cafe -- formerly of Ravens Club -- and Rebecca Wauldron of Busch's Fresh Food Market. Both chefs have worked with Selma Cafe previously.

Guests will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis and the suggested donation of $12 to $15 for the meal remains the same. Donations are pooled in a fund to benefit local farmers.

However, there will be some differences: The meals at the cafe will be once a month on Saturday mornings -- not every Friday morning as they were previously.

The cafe will also open later -- meaning there will be more menu items and the meal will be more brunch than breakfast, Gottlieb said. Selma Cafe staples including vegan granola, waffles and bread pudding likely will return to the menu, Gottlieb said.

To use the space at Sunward Cohousing, Gottlieb said Selma Cafe will be paying a flat $100 fee. The cafe has not committed to stay at Sunward Cohousing beyond the June 22 event.

The cafe is able to pay that fee because it has secured control of its assets from its previous fiscal sponsor.

Selma Cafe was able to operate for about three years out of Gottlieb's home because its finances were controlled by a nonprofit organization and it was thereby granted that status -- which meant it did not have to be inspected by the Washtenaw County Health Department.

The relationship between Selma and its fiscal sponsor -- Food Systems Economic Partnership -- deteriorated and FSEP froze the cafe's assets in March. At the same time, the city of Ann Arbor's planning department notified the cafe in the beginning of April that the number of cars parked on the street in Gottlieb's neighborhood were creating a problem and were in violation of the city's zoning ordinance.

Gottlieb chose to close Selma's operations in April to find a new fiscal sponsor, to regain control of the cafe's finances and to find a new location.

Selma Cafe has found a fiduciary in Artrain and has complete control of its $40,000 in funds back from FSEP, Gottlieb said.

The cafe also is seeking its own 501(c)3 nonprofit status. Gottlieb said Selma Cafe's application has been expedited and that she's in direct contact with the IRS on the issue.

Once the cafe becomes its own nonprofit, Gottlieb said it will no longer need a fiduciary and can operate more independently.

As to whether the cafe will keep its monthly brunch operations at Sunward, Gottlieb said it's too early to tell.

“I’m also really open to what comes next with Selma Cafe,” Gottlieb said. “It feels like there’s lots of opportunity now for lots of things to happen.”

View Sunward Cohousing in a larger map

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Walter Mondale

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

Don't expect this to last long. The hipsters who make up the majority of her demographic won't go all the way out there on a regular basis, and Selma's cult figure leader won't settle for a place that actually welcomes her. She's all about causing as much trouble as she can and breaking as many rules as she can to see if she can get away with it. You can't trust this woman farther than you can throw a baby elephant. But hey, nice to see that they're back up and running so they can launder more money over to Nifty Hoops.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 7:16 a.m.

Looks like the place has all the charm of a nursing home cafeteria.

Rod Johnson

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:38 a.m.

Well, you're wrong there.

Dirty Mouth

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

Will there be Clowns? Bring out the Clowns!


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

It won't be truly Art-Train related unless someone goes to Sunward and tags it all up with crappy graffiti.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 2 p.m.

I must say I'm very happy to see that most people aren't letting Selma get away with their lies about transparency and non-profit status. I'm glad to see that people are making the connections with her husband's Hoop House for-profit business. Let them run their business by the book and see if they can still make the huge profit they were before.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Wow. With all the time it takes for all this negative bantering- anyone could have simply gone to the Selma Cafe website where they have all their financials dating back to when they started. They clearly state how they are committed to transparency. Want a receipt for you donation? Simply ask- they are happy to provide one. As for all the near-hysteria regarding the non-inspections- they hire area chefs from well known established businesses who are all versed around safe food handling practices. I would bet this laptop no one has ever gotten a food borne illness from eating at Selma. I notice after reading the comments for many articles- it is always the same handful of folks ready to start throttling away at their keyboard with their negative, fear-based rants. Selma is working toward growing our local food system. Anyone of you naysayers fill your gas tank lately? Guess how that will impact your food costs. Guess those hoop houses will be pretty valuable toward working to extend our local growing season so our broccoli doesn't have to come from California..oh, wait- something tells me you probably don't eat fresh vegetables so maybe that is why you can be such a hater..Geez!


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

I hadn't realized that hiring chefs precluded you from having to be inspected. Don't local restaurants use "area chefs". Then why do they need inspection. "Anyone of you naysayers fill your gas tank lately?" Just wondering how people will get to SELMA - oh in the same cars that caused parking problems at the last place? OK. Got it. "California..oh, wait- something tells me you probably don't eat fresh vegetables " Wow, where to begin? Of course you realize how absurd this ending to your 'rant against rants' is. Carry on, you are doing fine. Helping the cause and all that.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

LOLOLOL...the "financials" they have on their website don't even BEGIN to classify as "financials." You must not have looked at even ONE of the .PDFs they have up there...if you had you would have seen the absolute LACK of information in them. There is a reason they were dropped by their original sponsor, and it was because of LACK of transparency.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 12:03 p.m.

Most of the people who went to Selma in the Eberwhite neighborhood were doing to see and be seen. Most of them didn't care about the details. Hipster heaven.

Rod Johnson

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:37 a.m.

Evidence, please.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 10:15 a.m.

Donations are pooled in a fund to benefit local farmers.Selma Cafe has found a fiduciary in Artrain and has complete control of its $40,000 in funds back from FSEP, Gottlieb said. The cafe also is seeking its own 501(c)3 nonprofit status. Gottlieb said Selma Cafe's application has been expedited and that she's in direct contact with the IRS on the issue. So for the last 3 years how much money has gone to the farmers? Just curious.

Gyll Stanford

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

When you apply to the IRS you have to careful in applying. Too many Right sounding terms will slow or stop the process, with those Left sounding terms you can get an automatic approval! I would think Selma Cafe at the co-housing is Hoping for no Change in THAT policy!


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

Wonder how IRS chooses who gets expedited? Lucky for them I guess.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

Just quoting the article but it would nice if they expounded.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

What do they mean by benefitting local farmers? Does that mean benefitting them by buying their products? or selling them hoop structures at a "discount?" I guess if political groups can obtain 501(c)(3) status as "educational" organizations, a popular restaurant should be supported by the taxpayers as well.

Colorado Sun

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 5:52 a.m.

Nifty Hoops, LLC is owned by Jeff McCabe. Avalon Housing's executive director is Carole McCabe. Avalon Housing is partnering with SELMA for hoop house building. Check it out on YouTube.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:24 a.m.

What are you talking about?!? Carole McCabe and Jeff McCabe are not related in any way, but that would make for a fascinating conspiracy, wouldn't it? They probably do not know each other. And if Avalon is building hoop houses, it is just one more way they are supporting our very low income neighbors to live safe and healthy lives.

Colorado Sun

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 5:38 a.m.

Will Nifty Hoops, LLC be benefitting indirectly or directly from the procceeds of this brunch? Nifty Hoops, LLC is a limited liability company owned by Lisa Gottlieb's husband that manufactures hoop houses.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 4:43 a.m.

I had not heard the term "intentional community" before this article. Is it the new term for communal living? But are these separate units, with their own kitchens?

Rod Johnson

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:35 a.m.

It's not that new a term, but, sort of. Not necessarily communal in the sixties sense. Intentional community more or less describes it--an attempt to live together as a community in an intentional, mindful way. The three cohousing communities in town, of which Sunward is one, are condominium developments legally, but they have made a much larger investment than normal in shared community facilities, and are more involved in the maintenance and governance of the community than many condo organizations. All the units have their own kitchens and other modern amenities, yes; and people go to work like everyone else and are pretty normal. They just know each other better than many neighborhoods nowadays do. There are lots of other types of intentional communities, though, including coops, religious communities and more communal setups. Cohousing is probably the most energetic strain nowadays though--lots of info at if you want to learn more. A gateway to the three local communities is at

West Side Mom

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 2:11 a.m.

This is nuts. Eat at Selma and enjoyed it and support its mission. I understand why the neighbors felt unfairly burdened by Selma. But how does this advance ArtTrain's mission?

West Side Mom

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.

Oops. Ate Selma.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 1:06 a.m.

@ treetownlove, re: "I guess I am just a rule follower to a fault and maybe that's why this bugs me so much." That's the impression I've been getting, too. I'm curious –– do you avoid potlucks as well, or is it just the rule part that gets stuck in your craw? For whatever reason, if you don't feel comfortable eating somewhere, trust your instincts, and stay away. But I have a feeling that the SELMA Cafe will be well attended, either way.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 3:37 a.m.

Follow the money trail and you'll learn, from previous articles here, that Selma Cafe isn't really a non-profit. Funneling money to her husbands business, it's a great set up.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 3:17 a.m.

No. It has to do with the fact this entity has no accountability. They accept "donations" but no receipts are issued and there doesn't seem to be any sort of record keeping. For years they basically ran a restaurant out of a house. That's fine but then apply to be a freaking restaurant! Again, if they are so certain of themselves then they should welcome inspections, record keeping, etc. As others have said above, why does being a "non profit" exempt this particular organization from everything (esp. when, as noted, schools and churches are inspected)?


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 12:46 a.m.

To all the nay sayers its simple ...Don't go there....duh

Angry Moderate

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 11:43 p.m.

Why doesn't this apply to every restaurant that sells food in exchange for money, which is exactly what Selma does? Oh yeah, not every restaurant is run by well-connected local socialites who love organic granola. Funny how liberals love regulations, permits, fees, and inspections except when it hits their pet causes.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 11:15 p.m.

". Because Selma Cafe is technically a non profit organization because of its relationship with Artrain, its fiscal sponsor, its operations do not have to be inspected by the health department." Really? I call BS on that. What about: Abbott Elementary Allen Elementary American Legion Post 268 Angell Elementary Ann Arbor City Club Brecon Village Memory Support Center Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church Bryant Elementary School Central Academy Elementary Central Academy Middle & High School Cobblestone Farm Center Community High School Concordia University Sodexo Dining Serv Concordia University Soxedo Dinning Serv East Arbor Charter Academy Eberwhite Elementary Emu Dining Commons #1 Fortis Academy Full Circle Community Center Haisley Elementary Henry Ford Elementary Hope Medical Clinic King Elementary Lawton Elementary Lincoln High School East Lincoln High School West Logan Elementary Mi Servs For Blind Milan Federal Pr #338 Michigan Friends Center Milan Middle School Mitchell Elementary New Tech High School @ Ardis Northside Elementary School Paddock Elementary Peace Neighborhood Center Perry Child Dev Ctr Downstairs Perry Child Dev Ctr Upstairs Pioneer High School Cafeteria Pittsfield Elementary Roberto Clemente School Senior Citizen Recreation Center Shekinah Christian Church St. Andrews Church Of Christ St. John's Catholic Church St. Joseph Church Tappan Jr. High School Thurston Elementary Trinity Presbyterian Church Washtenaw International High School Whitmore Lake High School Kitchen Willow Run High School Willow Run Middle School Ypsilanti High School

Jake C

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 8:05 p.m.

"can someone sue Selma if they get sick? " You can sue just about anyone for any reason whatsoever. All that matters is whether you might win.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

Perhaps it's a liability issue? can someone sue Selma if they get sick? whereas at a school I think you could.

Lets Get Real

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 9:33 p.m.

Guess I don't understand - the church I attend has a kitchen and it has to be inspected because it serves food in exchange for donations during periodic events held there (breakfasts, suppers, ladies lunch). How is this different?

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

Lisa Gottlieb said she talked to the health department about running Selma Cafe out of the kitchen at Sunward and got the all-clear. Because Selma Cafe is technically a non profit organization because of its relationship with Artrain, its fiscal sponsor, its operations do not have to be inspected by the health department.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

@treetownlove, my understanding is that you don't get a receipt for your donation because you are receiving goods in return. In the same way that the flowers I purchase at my daughters school fundraiser cannot be claimed as a donation because I received flowers for my money and I don't ever recall being offered a receipt.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

Horrible that they won't be inspected. Are public schools for profit entities? They're inspected. This 'cafe' should be inspected. This is probably why the city had to go after them with a zoning violation for parking.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

I guess I will just never understand this. The public is buying food (you can call it a donation but it is still the exchange of money for goods) that is being prepared by people in a kitchen. More to the point, why WOULDN'T they want to follow the rules of restaurants? This isn't just some big dinner party that someone is having..."donations" are involved. (And I ask again how these donations will be tracked. My understanding is that people just crammed money into jars at the old place with nary the mention of a receipt for your donation or any sort of tracking). I guess I am just a rule follower to a fault and maybe that's why this bugs me so much.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

Is this a commercial kitchen? How will donations be tracked and acknowledged? How will we know how the "donations" are being used? Will there be health inspections? How will we know if the "volunteers" are following basic health code and sanitary procedures?


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

That's my point, Rod, I didn't know and that's why I didn't eat there!

Rod Johnson

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

You could always ask. Did you know any of that at the old SELMA?


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

Curious how the health inspections will go.

Angry Moderate

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 11:40 p.m.

Tag-it doesn't. Churches, schools, and hospitals all have health codes for their kitchens. Some people are just confused.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

This is my concern is well. I don't understand why being not for profit would mean no health inspections. Please explain this policy, it's horrible.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

Bus service? I believe the bus only goes as far west to Wagner Road and Jackson.


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

A dedicated bus route? AATA doesn't run west beyond Wagner and Jackson. Does it?

Rod Johnson

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

No, but the WAVE bus service meets the AATA bus and runs to the cohousing communities on the way to Chelsea. Check the schedule though--it doesn't run every half hour. (It's not a bad walk though.)


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

Will there be outdoor seating - can we bring pets if outside?

Renee S.

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

There will be outdoor seating available, weather permitting. However, we ask that you leave any pets at home. Thanks for your interest!

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

Ewww. Stay home with your dog.


Sat, Jun 8, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

I didn't know it was a secret that the word "pets" includes dogs.

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

"pets" code word for dogs

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

I am pleased to see the Sunward Cohousing community we helped to build its Common House back another worthy local non-profit cause. A great way to pay it forward!


Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

Well, the location is not quite as charming, but is more reality-based. And, if it is going to be a once-a-month event, they'll have to choose a 1st Saturday or 3rd Saturday schedule. It can't be just a random "we're having it on June 22nd" this month. Good move by Sunward to advertise their community.