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Posted on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Aubree's Pizzeria expands into Livingston County, owners seek to open more locations

By Katrease Stafford

The Ypsilanti-based Aubree's Pizzeria & Grill is expanding into Livingston County and President Andy French said the business hopes to open at least two more southeastern Michigan locations this year.

Thumbnail image for aubrees_saloon.jpg

The Genoa Township location will be the second franchise location.

File photo

Aubree's will open a new restaurant in Genoa Township, near Howell, replacing the former T.W. & Friends restaurant, which was open for 12 years.

The location at 4433 E. Grand River will be the second franchise Aubree's has opened. The first opened in Dexter in 2010.

Joe Kacaj of Oxford and Matthew Morrison of Dexter, partnered to open Aubree’s second franchised location. Of the six Aubree's locations, four are company-owned and two are franchisee-owned.

"I think it's huge expanding to Livingston County," Morrison said. "Being able to get the Aubree’s brand up west into the Genoa Township area, that's huge... It's a lifelong dream to be able to own my own restaurant. It's going to be a beautiful relationship with that community."

French, along with his parents and co-owners Sandee and Bill, have plans to further expand. French said he's considered Ann Arbor as a possible location, but only if it's the right place.

"Ann Arbor is a possibility," French said. "We like southeast Michigan and we see opportunity going west."

French said going west into other communities within the state is something the family will continue to look at. Locations such as Lansing, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids could be viable locations.

"We would be open to doing anything in a two-hour drive time," he said.

French said the business continues to expand because of its pizza and grill concept, which he believes fits in with most communities looking for family-dining options.

"I believe our commitment to supporting the communities we’re in kind of helps us build and grow and expand our brand," French said.

When the restaurant opened its first location in Ypsilanti at 39 E. Cross St. in the 1970s, it was designed to be a corner bar. In its early years and up until about 2003, more than 80 percent of the bar’s revenue was related to alcohol.

French said that's changed over time. Nearly all of the locations see about an 80-20 split between food and alcohol sales, with the bulk being food sales now.

The business has continued to see a large amount of interest from individuals seeking to open franchises.


Andy French said he hopes to open two more locations before the end of the year.

Melanie Maxwell | file photo

"We've been very happy with the level of interest we've received," French said. "We're very excited for this new opportunity in Howell and I believe in the franchisees that will be owning and operating this store... We have a goal of another one to two more restaurants."

The 8,000-square-foot location in Genoa Township will seat about 200 customers and undergo renovations to make it similar to other locations. Morrison said he will hire about 75 people.

"Living in the area, I've always eaten at Aubree's and I've known the French family for a long time," Morrison said. "I thought it would be a great fit for me to move into the franchisee role."

French said the expansion to Livingston County has been in the works for nearly a year. The owner of T.W. & Friends, Dino Tomei, still will own the building and Aubree's will lease the location.

"We like the Howell community," French said. "It kind of fits with the types of communities our other restaurants are in. We believe it's a great opportunity for us and we believe it should be well-received in the community."

The new location will be open by the end of May or the beginning of June, French said.

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.



Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

I've never eaten there. I heard a number of people say it was overrated and the prices are high. The comments here are all over the board. Some love Aubrees, some disparage it. Many say it has gone downhill, possibly as a result of expansion. I'll probably try it just to see, but I do agree that the prices I've seen seem way high for another sit-down pizza joint. There are innumerable pizza options in the Dexter, Pinckney and Chelsea area. There's even another one opening in the strip mall near Busch's. Kind of hard to get up for going to a pizza restaurant and pay higher prices just because it is sitdown and serves drinks when you can get pizza anywhere at any price range you want. As for Ann Arborites, why would an Ann Arbor's Aubrees be any better than the original Cottage Inn downtown? That's an honest question seeking replies, not a rhetorical one.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 9:23 a.m.

I bought a pizza from their Livonia restaurant; wasn't really impressed. But I just had some buffet pizza in Ypsilanti about a week ago. Not bad.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 3:06 a.m.

I've been going to Aubrees for decades. Best pizza in the county especially the sausage they put on the pizzas.

Julie Baker

Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

Congrats to Aubree's on the expansion. One of my favorite pizza places in Ypsi. Try the Aubree's bread!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

I am happy to see a local business doing well! I love their food and always receive great service. Congrats to Aubree's for expanding into Livingston County. I know they will love you as much as we do here in Dexter.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

The pizza is marginal..they have an ok burger, Should have put Jolly Pumpkin in that spot in Dexter.. it would have done great.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:22 p.m.

It's too bad the food of their existing restaurants and service has declined steadily over the past couple of years while the prices have gone up. They seemed more focused on drinks than the food. Too many bad meals of recent, won't be back.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 12:50 a.m.

I completely agree with this. We have been avoiding both the Ypsilanti locations for two years because of the downfall of their food. Unfortunately we attended a social event over the holidays at the township location and it was even worse than before.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

I hope they do well. We have been to a couple of their restaurants and love the food. I think they will be a great addition to Howell!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

I'd welcome an Ann Arbor location. They have the best pizza in the area for a sit down restaurant.

Katrease Stafford

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 9:50 p.m.

Cd_booth, I've heard a lot of people (including co-workers!) say they would enjoy having an Ann Arbor location. It would be interesting to see if they pursue it.

Just Be Nice

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

Hope their food is better than the Dexter location - doubtful. I've yet to have a good meal at that location.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 3:45 a.m.

Have had the same experience at the Depot Town location as well...tried 3 times...haven't been back.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:12 p.m.

....This Dexter location of Aubree's is franchised owned, not owner owned...Probably the reason for poor quality...Not to mention the place was built rat in 2011........The owner owned Aubree's is good.......


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 9:25 p.m.

I share your sentiment.

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.

I've been wondering if and when Aubree's would make a move to Ann Arbor. When @burger closed on East Liberty Street, I thought it could make for a cool Aubree's location, but I don't know if they would ever make the move downtown.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 3:34 a.m.

I hope they do, I live in Ypsi and order their fish and chips and pizza. I love their pizza, snacking on some right now. Where I work the manager of aubree's comes into my store and one night he sent me a sample pizza and I loved it. Aubree's is the only place I order pizza from now.