Figure it South

(I started writing this months ago. I was gonna add some more photos but at some point you have to call something done, even if it’s not perfect. -b.) Nothing too major going on right now, just some stuff I noticed. It’s good to notice stuff again and it’s super good to write about it.


I’ve been bemusedly watching the Carpenter Road Target, which got paint and a wood-look resurfacing a few years back, then lost the paneling about a year ago. It came down while the Carpenter Road Meijer store got its big update last year, and I thought maybe Target was going to do something dramatic to compete. But in recent days the wood look has returned:

The entrance to the Carpenter Road Target store, November 2021. (C)A2RS

Not a lot different from the old wood look, right? If you’ve attended any of my talks you know this blog was started almost as a dare, and now it’s been around long enough to almost actually be a legitimate archive. I have a photo of the previous facade:

The exterior of the Carpenter Road Target store. Wood paneling on a cream colored wall.
Flashback to June 2018 when the wood paneling had just gone up. (C)A2RS

It looks like some new kind of paneling in a similar color/grain. Maybe this new paneling is more durable. I don’t know. Interested in seeing what sort of permanent sign goes up. Will it be lowercase ◎target or will they go with just the Bullseye like the previous revision? Time will tell and so will I, eventually. (It’s been a few weeks since I started to write this and can now confirm that the lone bullseye went back up. It looks like Winking Domo-kun again.)

Japanese cartoon character, meme, gaping maw of commerce.

Here’s a little wholesome from the Starbucks counter inside that Target. During the holiday season each location had a board with sticky notes to leave affirming messages and one of this location’s baristas got a shout out from the entire store next door:

This is the best they will get, since baristas at Target Starbucks locations are forbidden from accepting tips.


The big new bank merger is Huntington and TCF (Twin Cities Financial). But in 1994, the big bank merger was when TCF acquired our neighborhood bank, Great Lakes Bancorp. Since Great Lakes was an expansion for TCF, many of the Great Lakes locations were simply updated with TCF signage. Huntington already has a local presence, so this merger has led to a number of closures of both banks’ locations, including a few that had been open continuously since the Great Lakes days., like this one at Packard and Hewitt in Ypsi:

If you look closely you can see a GREΔT LΔKES BΔNCORP-shaped contrast, where the letters from the sign sheltered the building’s surface from sun and weather, under the removed TCF sign. This is what serious retail nerds call a “Labelscar,” and after you hear that once, you start seeing it everywhere.


Last time I talked about the fast-food places adjacent to State Street, but the table-service places aren’t doing a lot better. When was the last time you saw an Applebees or a TGIFs close? And yet here we are.

There goes The Neighborhood. (C)A2RS
I believe this was a plot by Big Monday. (C)A2RS

Unlike the McDonald’s in the previous post, these restaurants have not lost their exterior signage. Maybe they are waiting for the economy to pick up and will reopen, fronting like nothing happened? Each lot has a For Lease sign in front, so maybe it’s just more economical to leave the debranding to the new occupant. Especially if the new occupant is going to knock it all down and start over, as is happening across the street from Friday’s at the former Joe’s Crab Shack:

From seafood diner to comfy recliners. (C)A2RS

The word is that this is going to be a La-Z-Boy furniture store. I hope they do repairs. I have an LZB that belonged to my grandfather. It’s my favorite thing to nap in, but the footrest gets stuck. For more cool stories, visit your local library.

La-Z-Boy previously had a gallery in the outer ring of Briarwood. It closed like ten years ago and is now an office of Kapnick Insurance. I guess the time was right to re-enter the retail scene for a high end home furniture company.

I made this with a memeing website (C)A2RS

Also the Bob Evans on Saline Road closed. The one in the Meijer outlot. You are forgiven for not knowing it was there, it was between a Verizon store and Buddy’s Pizza, which thankfully seems to be doing fine. It was unusual for a Bob Evans — usually you can spot those red farmhouse-style buildings before you even exit the interstate. But this one was nestled into a strip mall:

Bob Evans, Pittsfield Township, January 2016. (C)A2RS

I think the effort to incorporate the Bob Evans theming into an existing box gave it the look of a life size Fairy Door, maybe for a southern fairy who can’t decide between the buttermilk biscuits and the yeast rolls with their Knife And Fork Turkey Sandwich. ( haven’t been in two years, which is probably why this location closed, but for the record, I choose the yeast rolls.) The Bob Evans script logo is gone now, but the “roof” remains until something else moves in.

Buddy’s Pizza, Texas Roadhouse, and Outback Steakhouse (which has been at Oak Valley and Saline Road for about as long as there has even been a shopping center there) are all still open, as well as Godaiko and Arirang, the Japanese and Korean restaurants near Outback. There are also two chain pizza places and a juice place.

The quick service and takeout places at this exit all seem to be doing okay. The McDonald’s on Lohr might have a little longer drive thru line after absorbing some of the State Street location’s business, but I had to check it out when SOMEONE needed their FRIES recently, and the line moved pretty quick.

Around the corner from most of these sits Nick’s House of Pancakes, which was once a Big Boy, pivoted to become a Breakfast Joint, and seems to have prospered ever since. We went to a football game at Ford Field recently and spied a Big Boy counter, complete with checked-overalls Big Boy statue. It got us to wondering where the nearest Big Boy is now. Long ago they were all over town – Plymouth Road, Washtenaw Ave, Briarwood Mall, Zeeb Road. All those locations have gone – Plymouth Road’s location is in the process of becoming a Panera; Washtenaw Ave (technically Ypsi) is an outlet of the local-ish Crazy Crab chain; Zeeb Road is Kathy’s House of Pancakes now, which cannot be a coincidence, can it? And driving through Chelsea I found that the Big Boy out there is now a Culver’s, further asserting its highway dominance:

Honestly, not a bad fit. If you’ve ever looked at a Culver’s menu it’s almost as wide ranging as a Big Boy. You can get a burger, AND fried chicken (bone in or tenders), AND a salad, AND a Pork Tenderloin sandwich, AND a bunch of different frozen-custard-based desserts. This one time I was in Anaheim at an In-n-Out wearing Michigan gear, as I always did at out-of-state conferences, and a fellow InO customer asked me if I’d been to Culver’s, and what was lit like? So, you know, Culver’s is kind of our In-N-Out or Whataburger, though I don’t think they want to be be considered a regional delicacy for too much longer.

Anyway, that’s how Big Boy became rarer than Pizza Hut, at least around here.

To wrap up the roll call of sit down restos, two in Briarwood: Bravo Italian Grill near Macy’s, and Macaroni Grill at State and Eisenhower — the first to go and with the least fanfare. Not like there aren’t plenty of fine Italian restaurants to go to, but I liked their focaccia and dipping oil.

Finally, the longtime restaurant space at Forest and South University is now a location of the Ypsi-based Lan City Hand Pulled Noodle, but they asked my friends at the Observer not to write about them. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Happy holidays and joyous new year and I will endeavor to take more pictures and post more stuff in 2022.

3 Replies to “Figure it South”

  1. “If you’ve ever looked at a Culver’s menu it’s almost as wide ranging as a Big Boy.” Aye, but can ye get a Brawny Lad? :vomit:

  2. My family was Great Lakes customers too back in the day. Remember passbook savings accounts? And actually earning interest on deposits? Also, consider doing a UTBAPH tour

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