Wake, Shake, ‘n Vacant

A new coffee shop at Main and Stadium

Ext. of future coffee shop at Stadium and Main Streets. (C)A2RS

The little building across from Michigan Stadium and Pioneer High is changing purposes again. I assume it was a gas station decades ago — the placement on the lot and the garage-door-sized windows on the east wall are strong signs. I remember it first as Schneider’s convenience store, where I would get Mountain Dew in a glass bottle while waiting for my transfer bus home from school. Since then it has been a paint-n-pour type creative party space, a mobile phone store, and an indoor tanning salon, and is now about to become a coffee shop.

Legend* tells that the MDen owns this land and building. As the closest retail anything to Michigan Stadium, it’s usually host to an MDen pop-up store on game days, though the MDen has enough physical locations for the other 357 days of the year to not need this year round. Hopefully this is the use that sticks? Not that I have any affinity for coffee, it’d just be nice not to write about another business closing.

The next nearest coffee is a 7-Eleven and the Espresso Royale in the Woodland Plaza center near Busch’s, so there’s probably a need to be filled here. There are many U-M employees just on the other side of the stadium that have no fancy coffee within like a 15-20 minute walk uphill.

* “legend” generally means “some comment on a Ann Arbor Townies Group post” around here

Mighty Good at Arbor Hills is… still open

Recently we visited Arbor Hills Crossing. That’s a sentence you don’t hear much around here, I honestly have never felt like I belong in there. All the shops seem to be for people of a higher income and social class than I identify with. But I’ve been hearing about Shake Shack for years and I wanted to see what the hype was about.

I parked by Mighty Good Coffee, which was the only open parking of course, and I was surprised and confused to see the shop was open:

The closure of Mighty Good was a big story in the springtime. The local chain’s baristas organized and attempted to group-bargain with the owners, who then announced they would close their retail outlets. Some of the locations closed months ago. Arbor Hills was supposed to close on August 31. But as you can see, it’s still open, and for exactly the reason you think it is:

WACWA UPDATE:As most of you may know, on April 15th 2019, all Mighty Good Coffee employees got an e-mail stating that…

Posted by WACWA Baristas on Monday, September 2, 2019
Facebook post from the local baristas’ union.

On preview, that didn’t embed like I hoped it would, but click through if you want more. The gist is that Mighty Good has hired new workers for this location who are not part of the union. The former Mighty Good locations on Jefferson across from Bach Elementary, and at South U and Washtenaw, are now operated by new management with different concepts. But a baristas’ union member predicts that Mighty Good’s Main Street location will probably reopen with new workers soon too.

The A2RS short review of Shake Shack that you’ve been waiting for: shake was pretty good. Fries were crinkle-cut, which to me is usually visual shorthand for “frozen starchy disappointment,” but they were nice and crispy even after driving them home. I like that the menu has hamburgers and cheeseburgers as discrete menu items, and the hamburger is cheaper — so if you don’t want cheese, you’re not subsidizing everyone else’s cheese. Unfortunately, the hamburger they served me clearly had had cheese on it , which was picked off before it was served to me, rather than just making a clean new hamburger. There was melted cheese residue on the surface and edge of the burger patty.

They could have made me really sick. What if I was allergic to cheese, instead of just a picky, annoying person who doesn’t like cheese? (YES, I KNOW WHERE I LIVE. YES, I EAT CHEESE ON PIZZA. I CONTAIN MULTIDUDES™.)

So I’m reluctant to return. When I want a premium burger with pretenses of healthiness, I will most likely stick with Elevation Burger.

Motel 6 on State Street is closed

The Motel 6 off of Airport Boulevard and State Street, recently, suddenly, quietly closed. Once a Knights Inn and, for decades, the only lodging in the area south of I-94, it now faced competition from a quite new Staybridge Suites, and a Holiday Inn Express soon to open, across the street on the outskirts of Research Park. Both of these new builds have indoor hallways and the amenities craved by the business travelers that Research Park attracts.

The signs at the old motel are completely blacked out, but the grounds are still maintained and the property is well-lit for reasons that seem obvious to me (either the broken-windows effect, or keeping the complex ready for a new hotel brand and management to step in quickly, especially during football season). A length of steel chain blocks the one driveway at the front of the complex.

Pristinely empty, it beckoned me to take a few low-light night photos with the best camera…

You know what they say, “the best camera is the one you’ve got.” (C)A2RS

Above, the guesthouse is still lit from within, though nobody’s working the desk. Beyond the guesthouse, the rows of empty rooms wait to be occupied again.

Down a row of empty rooms at the old Motel 6. (C)A2RS

To the left in the photo above, behind the small fence, is the outdoor swimming pool. I was beginning to feel emboldened and started to edge closer, when a Ford Edge turned off of Airport Boulevard, zipped down the access road, and started to turn into the driveway. I tried to wave them away so they wouldn’t hit the chain, but it stopped them cold. My nerve evaporated, and I walked back to my car.

The Edge followed me. Its window rolled down. “Excuse me, sir,” the driver said. “Is it open?” (I was wearing jeans and a hoodie, but no matter what I’m wearing, I apparently radiate something that makes strangers think I know what in the world is going on. I guess it’s middle-aged, approachable white maleness.) I shook my head and said “nope, sorry.” The Edge zipped away.

I went back for one more shot, a real easy one where I probably wouldn’t get the cops called on me if someone else showed up.

Vacant row of rooms on the east-facing edge of the former Motel 6 on State Street. (C)A2RS

Hopefully this reopens soon, but going by its TripAdvisor, if it didn’t reopen it would not be much missed.

EDITED TO ADD:

I almost forgot! Remember the vintage shop that opened this summer, where Chelsea Flowers used to be on Liberty? It’s closed, per A2RS Deputy Director Eli:

It was called “Former Vintage,” and that means I have to get to call it “the former Former Vintage space” from now on.

One Reply to “Wake, Shake, ‘n Vacant”

  1. I live very near to Arbor Hills and I feel weird when I go there, too. I like the Zola brunch but it’s pricey. Everything else seems geared towards women who don’t have to work and who have copious amounts of free time/money to shop. Since I fall into none of these categories, I feel off like I did when Somerset first opened and I’d go there in my flannel, unwashed hair, ripped jeans and then wonder why no one was waiting on me….

    But maybe I’m wrong so CHANGE MY MIND ARBOR HILLS!

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