Don’t get excited, I investigated this about as much as I investigate anything for this site.
I realized we haven’t talked about Washtenaw Commons (the strip mall across from Arborland) in a while. I think the last time was when I wrote about Frank’s Nursery and Crafts, a location of which anchored this land in an earlier time.
I had dinner at the Commons the other night, and took a little time to examine its former and upcoming tenants.
The original layout of this complex was several discrete, free-standing buildings — Frank’s, a big-&-tall men’s store, a thrift shop, a Norgetown cleaners (loooong gone), a drive thru bank branch. Most of the buildings were flattened – I think only the original Frank’s building remained. By now, Dollar Tree was well-established there. They demolished the outdoor section of Frank’s, relocated the big & tall, and added Olga’s Kitchen on the end. The effect: the alleys between the buildings were turned into usable storefronts.
The website can tell you what’s there now, but I was interested in what’s gone, and what’s coming. Let’s start with the blended, fruity elephant that has just left the awkward, metaphorical room.
The @JambaJuice by my house is closing and while that will prove to ultimately be a financial windfall for me I am inconsolable.
— Kyle J. Banas (@kbanas) November 18, 2017
Alas, it was the one and only. It only lasted 8 months. The nearest one is a half hour away! I will Orange Carrot Karma no more and I am very sad. Delicious while it lasted, though.
— Kyle J. Banas (@kbanas) November 18, 2017
The other nearest locations are both within Meijer stores, in Livonia and Shelby Township. SHELBY TOWNSHIP? THAT’S NORTH OF CANADA.
Jamba Juice stores tend to locate in areas with better foot traffic, so I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen of them. I would wager they will return to the street-level retail space in one the buildings that are being built right now on South University. In the meantime, both of the above “nearest locations” are inside Meijer stores, and the far-west-side Meijer at Jackson and Zeeb has at least one open unit up front. And it’s near the produce department, so… uh… synergy. See you there, Jamba? Maybe.
(UPDATE: In the comments, Molly notes that there is a cafe deep within the bowels of University Hospital that serves Jamba Juice drinks.)
POKE FISH is the signage directly adjacent to the former Jamba space.
Blog friend Steve gave me the headsup there was new signage to look for. Precious little action on the space so it’s probably too early to guess when this will open. Everything can come in a tortilla now, but I feel like this was tried recently downtown and abandoned pretty quickly.
The other food concepts in here seem to be doing okay. Blaze’s prices have gone up about 50c from when they opened, but they have also introduced one-topping and two-topping prices, besides the “unlimited toppings” and “cheese only” pies they launched with. Check with your community schools and nonprofits for Restaurant Night fundraisers, Blaze seems to do them quite regularly.
Dickey’s BBQ, a chain, recently opened next to Blaze. People I know who have eaten there say it is fine, smaller portions but cheaper than Satchel’s, but offers all-you-can-eat soft serve ice cream for dessert, which honestly sounds kind of fun. I have an affinity for Satchel’s but one of these days I’ll try to get over to Dickey’s.
Walgreens has staked a claim to one of the spaces:
I’m not sure why Walgreens wants a tiny storefront a couple of blocks away from their Washtenaw and Huron location — you know, the one you park at to walk to Whole Foods — but maybe they’re opening one of their specialty pharmacies here. If it is a regular Walgreens, it would be the smallest Walgreens store I’ve ever seen, but not by much. There’s a store a few blocks south of Disneyland that’s the size of a small bank branch or a convenience store.
Look at it. It’s the length of three cars and not much wider either. This whole area is kind of a funhouse mirror. There’s a Target store right behind this Walgreens that’s as wide as a Meijer, or a Walmart Supercenter, but the building is only as deep as a small supermarket. You can walk to the back (that’s where the Jarritos are) in about ten seconds. Incidentally, if you’re going to Disneyland, you might as well get a Target RedCard and use it to buy Disney Gift Cards, you get them for a 5% discount off face value and it’s as close as you’re going to get to a discount at Disney.
Anyway, back in Ann Arbor, next door to the Undetermined Walgreens Space will be a dentist, which will come in handy when you drink too many smoothies and eat too much soft-serve:
I assume the other spaces will fill up soon with small service-businesses, like the ink-cartridge refiller and the spa that have also recently opened. But not Jamba Juice.
Ann Arbor, you blew it. We don’t DESERVE nice things.