Alumni Own Top Ann Arbor Restaurants

Alumni Own Top Ann Arbor Restaurants

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The food website Thrillist recently had the good taste to name Ann Arbor one of the best college towns in America for food and drink. But that’s no surprise to diners who are gearing up for Restaurant Week June 21-26. A few alumni have stayed close to home and are running some of the best restaurants in town. Take a look at the popular Ann Arbor eateries with U-M connections.

Zingerman’s Delicatessen
Founded, owned by Ari Weinzweig, ’78, and Paul Saginaw, ’76
Serving presidents, celebrities, and Ann Arborites alike since 1982, the Kerrytown deli is world-renowned for its delicious offerings. From the famed Reuben sandwich to the myriad of breads, cheeses, and baked goods, visitors consistently rank Zingerman’s Deli as one of the top eateries in Ann Arbor. (Read more about Weinzweig and Saginaw in “Pomp & Pastrami” in the summer 2015 issue of Michigan Alumnus.)

Zingerman's

Photo: Zingerman’s Deli Facebook page

The Last Word
Co-owned by Adam Lowenstein, ’06
Located under LIVE (at the corner of Huron and First streets), The Last Word offers the opportunity to travel back in time to the Roaring Twenties. Upon entering the unmarked door, patrons are met with a live jazz band, prohibition-era speakeasy decor, and a menu full of interesting craft beers and cocktails. 

Last Word

Photo: The Last Word Facebook page

Jolly Pumpkin
Co-owned by Greg Lobdell, ’94, MARCH’98, and Jon Carlson, ’93
This popular Main Street staple is one of the only breweries in the country that specializes in Belgian-style sour ales. Along with a rotating seasonal beer menu, guests enjoy pub fare in an inviting atmosphere. During the summer months, the rooftop terrace bustles with foodies and beer fans.

Jolly Pumpkin

Photo: Jolly Pumpkin Facebook page

BTB Cantina
Co-owned by Adam Lowenstein, ’06
Located on the former second floor of Good Time Charley’s, BTB Cantina operates as a burrito joint by day and a full-bar cantina by night. The South U location offers the full BTB menu as well as late-night grub and drink specials. 

BTB Cantina

Photo: BTB Cantina Facebook page

LIVE
Co-owned by Adam Lowenstein, ’06  
Revamped in 2012, LIVE (at the corner of Huron and First streets) is one of Ann Arbor’s hottest nightclubs. Open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the club features local and visiting DJs spinning Top 40, electronic dance music, and hip-hop hits, and two full-service bars. 

LIVE

Photo: Live Ann Arbor Facebook page

Vinology
Owned by John Jonna and Vincent Jonna, MSACC’04
Vinology has more than 100 wines from the bottle and more than 50 wines by the glass. Located on Main Street, the wine bar offers a wide variety of food and drink in a beautiful space.

Vinology

Photo: Vinology Facebook page

Grizzly Peak Brewing Company
Co-Owned by Greg Lobdell, ’94, MARCH’98, and Jon Carlson, ’93
Opened in the summer of 1995, Grizzly Peak (on West Washington Street) provides visitors with craft brews and pub food with a casual ambience.

Grizzly Peak

Photo: Grizzly Peak Facebook page

Blue Tractor
Co-owned by Greg Lobdell, ’94, MARCH’98, and Jon Carlson, ’93
For barbecue and beer fans, Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery is a must visit in Ann Arbor. Located on Washington Street, the restaurant’s beer list features both in-house and seasonal craft brews. 

Blue Tractor

Photo: Blue Tractor Facebook page

Good Time Charley’s
Co-owned by Adam Lowenstein, ’06
A favorite of U-M students since its opening in 1979, Good Time Charley’s is known for an extensive drinks and shooters menu, its outdoor patio, and the 64 oz. Mason jar beverage called a “fishbowl.” Visitors with the munchies can also sample the menu of classic bar food like fries, burgers, and sandwiches.

Good Time Charley's

Photo: Good Time Charley’s Facebook page

The Black Pearl
Owned by Harry Cohen, MSW’80, PhD’88, and Jan Ziegelman Cohen, ’78, MSW’80, ’85
An upscale seafood restaurant, the Black Pearl also offers an extensive drink menu. One of the fancier locations on Main Street, the Black Pearl offers dishes including fish tacos as well as a martini selection.

Black Pearl

Photo: The Black Pearl Facebook page

The Old German
Co-owned by Greg Lobdell, ’94, MARCH’98, and Jon Carlson, ’93
Located in the basement of Grizzly Peak, the Old German serves Ann Arbor much of the same food and drink as the Peak, but in a more intimate, tavern-like atmosphere. Be sure to take home a growler of beer brewed downstairs.

Old German

Photo: Old German Facebook page

BTB Burrito
Co-owned by Adam Lowenstein, ’06
Staying open until 4 a.m. on State Street generally ensures that a restaurant will be popular, but at BTB Burrito, the food is also tasty. Huge servings of Mexican staples like burritos, quesadillas, tacos, and nachos will satisfy even the hungriest customers.

BTB Burrito

Photo: BTB Burrito Facebook page

Lena  
Co-owned by Greg Lobdell, ’94, MARCH’98, and Jon Carlson, ’93  
On the corner of Main and Liberty streets, Lena’s menu consists of globally inspired Latin food and drink. Specialty mojitos, freshly made guacamole, and small dishes are served in Lena’s trendy interior or its outdoor sidewalk seating.

Lena

Photo: Lena Facebook page

UPDATE: Thank you to our followers for sharing a few more alumni-owned restaurants in Ann Arbor.

Cardamom
Owned by Rebecca Winkler, ’95

This Indian restaurant offers an array of Indian classics and regionally influenced dishes. Located on Plymouth Road near North Campus, Cardamom blends the old and the new for a unique dining experience. Guests enjoy favorites like Chicken Tikka Masala and Lamb Saag. 

Cardamom

Photo: Cardamom website gallery

The West End Grill
Owned by Roland Pohlman, MBA’93

Located on Liberty Street downtown, the West End Grill serves patrons a blend of surf and turf in an elegant atmosphere. Dishes like steak bearnaise and grilled salmon are paired with fine wine off the wine menu, creating indulgent meals every visit.

West End Grill

Photo: West End Grill website gallery

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