Argiero’s has closed

40-year Kerrytown fixture Argiero’s (from 2007, below) closed yesterday.

They were good. Our most recent trip was a Sunday evening last summer after doing yard and garden work at our kids’ school nearby. I liked knowing they were there and I hope the Argiero family is fine.

I have a vague memory that the house behind Argiero’s, that faces Fifth St. and Catherine, was additional dining space for them for a while. It presently houses Jessica’s Apothecary. MLive comment section wags already have the space pegged for a Flatiron type building, but you would have to get Jessica’s and DeLong’s, I MEAN Tesuya, to move.

UPDATE: It’s a new restaurant from the Lunch Room folks!

Slated to open late summer as “Detroit Street Filling Station,” which harkens back to a time when it was a Staebler Oil filling station. I don’t have pictures of the corner back then, but click below to see a bunch of their HQ a few blocks away at Main and Depot:

Showroom at Staebler-Kempf Oil Co, July 1946. (C) The Ann Arbor News.

If you think your gas station sells a few too many peripheral items, you should see the showroom here. They have vacuum cleaners and a refrigerator and a dang rubber raft. I mean we all know there’s little-to-no profit margin on the actual gasoline, right? But a rubber raft? Decades before the Argo Cascades? Mission creep.

Anyway, Lunch Room is a great lunch spot even if you love meat, like I do. I particularly recommend the chili and the Pad Thai.

Southeast side changes 

The former Pier 1 on Carpenter Road is being split.

Exterior of 3785 Washtenaw, splitting into two discrete storefronts. (C) A2R.S
It’s in the outlot of Target/Jo-Ann/Babies “Я” Us, next to “Яed Яobin.” Since Pier 1’s closure the space has been home to Halloween pop up stores. It appears this location is being split into two storefronts.

Locals and other readers know that the former west side Pier 1 holds three quick service restaurants now. What’s going in here? Who knows? Won’t be a Potbelly or a Blaze, they’re already nearby on Washtenaw. I don’t see a Drive Thru lane or window being added, so quick service fast food is probably out too.

Also, across the street, Yogurt City is gone. A by-the-ounce yogurt chain with some cute in store decorations and a student discount. The inside is being renovated with several small rooms near the front door. Small rooms for bankers is an increasingly popular credit union and bank branch floor plan. PARDA Federal Credit Union (originally founded for employees of Parke-Davis but now open to nearly everybody) has a branch next door.
Further back in the shopping center, Wireless Zone has moved in next to Leo’s Coney and some smoke shop. WZone had been in a building near Carpenter and Packard, between Pizza Hut and Miles of Golf, since before Verizon existed (they were an authorized reseller of CellularOne and AirTouch, the predecessor of Verizon Wireless). This location has the Mint Green iPhone, so you should definitely check it out when you get a chance.

(NOTE: I made up the Mint Green colorway. A2R.S regrets the error.)

(NOTE 2: Yes, A2R.S has some funny ideas about what an error is)

Another thing about the OCBC building…

…it was originally built as a single Pier 1 imports store in the 90s. Pier 1 left the area for a while, and the building was quartered into the restaurant spaces occupying it now. With Tony Sacco’s replaced by Blaze Pizza, that makes Potbelly the grizzled veteran that will presumably “show the ropes” to whoever the new tenant is. I cannot wait for this area to finally get the Jamba Juice it deserves.

Old Carolina Barbecue is “in transition”

The Old Carolina Barbecue Company has closed their storefront on Eisenhower in the Whole foods outlot. Signage is down and their Facebook page promises a “one step at a time transition.”

I’m as interested as you are as to what that means. I suspect scaling back to catering, or to a food truck/outdoor location. You may remember their residency at Mark’s Carts a few summers back.

OCBC were fine and relatively inexpensive as BBQ goes, especially if you used the popular-with-students Hooked Deals app. They had offers every day, though it seemed sometimes the phone-order help didn’t understand what that was. I tried to explain it three times on the phone one night and gave up when they kept telling me it would be full price.

There are a number of great BBQ options around town:

  • Satchel’s (near the other Whole Foods) is probably the cheapest now, and very reliable.
  • Westside BBQ (next to Fingerle Lumber) is tasty and they’re always testing new stuff, like a burrito-style rolled BBQ sandwich.
  • Ricewood (behind Morgan & York on Packard) is very popular with my friends. Last time I asked them to leave the tomato out and it was the best bowl I’ve ever had. Gonna try the sandwich next time.
  • And of course there are the well regarded table-service BBQ restaurants like Blue Tractor, Red Rock, Zingerman’s Roadhouse.

I still miss the BBQ places of my youth like Mr. Rib and DeLong’s. A side of bbq-soaked fries was pretty much my ultimate indulgence as a Community High School student. I remember how annoyed the fellow at the counter would get when I asked for a second fork to share with a friend.

One thing I really enjoyed at OCBC that none of the other local places have is Cheerwine, a super-sweet cherry soda that’s not commonly available north of about Tennessee. I’m nearly positive I’ve noticed glass-bottle Cheerwine four packs at Cracker Barrel in the merch shop. Next time you go, please bring me some back.

The group that franchised OCBC here also owns Black Diesel Coffee on Packard. BDC hasn’t posted any recent items on their Facebook, but I assume that’s a good sign. They always seem to be busy when I drive past.

(SFX: Record Scratch) Yup. That’s Me. You’re probably wondering…

I usually just post about quirky local retail stuff on Facebook, which is private, and my friend Melissa said I should write a blog. I didn’t want to put this stuff on my personal site and Namecheap had a special on the domain, so, well, here we are now.

I have a degree in Communications, and pretty much everything I know about retail I learned from retail second-jobs. So expect a lot of townie reminiscing and not much insight.