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End of an era - Blimpy Burgers closes tomorrow in Ann Arbor

Local legend Blimpy Burgers shuts its doors tomorrow, at least until they get a new lease somewhere else. Call it what you will, but places that grind their meat fresh daily and hand batter fresh veggies for the fryer are a dying breed. They must have been doing something right to have been in business for 60 years. I'm going to miss that place!

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  1. Is there a back story to the closing? Seems like this would be a seismic event in the metro food scene.

    2 Replies
    1. re: RedTop

      Same old story. U of M is more in the real estate biz than the education biz. That corner is going to be turned into a new dorm.

      There have been a few stories on annarbor.com about it. Fwiw Blimpy's is holding an exclusive fundraiser this week after they officially close. Tickets are $100 a pop, which is a little too steep IMO.

      1. re: charlesbois

        $100 gets you what? One of their burgers!?

    2. Went last night--for my final batch fried mixed veggies. But the line was down the block.
      Good that they will reopen, but guessing it will never be the same. Probably cleaner

      1. I'll definitely miss the place-- it was the second place I ate outside the dorm when I arrived at UM in the 1980s.

        Fortunately, the missus and I made our last trip there a week ago. It was pretty busy then, but the line wasn't as insane as it has been since Sunday's announcement. Closing today is right in line with what they estimated when the building sale was announced several months ago.

        At least there are plans to relocate, so hopefully it won't join Schlenker's, Rider's, Borders, Purchase Radio and Schoolkids' Records on the list of reasons it used to be a lot more fun to go into town.

        9 Replies
        1. re: brakeman

          And Drake's pea green coffee shop, with teeny booths and the "Martian Room" upstairs. When I was at U of M in the 80s the waitresses were surly punkettes, and the jars of candy were dusty, but they were still serving tuna salad sandwiches and limeaid just like it was 1950 or 60 something. Though I have to say that a tuna salad sandwich is not optimally paired with fresh, sour limeaid (gak). I think that spot is a bagel chain now.

          1. re: HillsofBeverly

            I literally cried when Drakes when out of business. Yes I was a hormonal teenager, but it was my FAVORITE hangout in Ann Arbor. I refuse to go to the bruggers bagels that opened there.

            1. re: charlesbois

              First: I still have to get used to charlesbois being a chick. Sorry. ;)

              Second: there's a degree to which I understand both sides of something like this. Of course you don't want one of you favorite places to be replaced by a chain *anything*. The thing is that your favorite place probably wasn't doing very well...else, why wouldn't they either move to a different location (as Blimpy is doing) or pay more to stay where they are and avoid letting the space go to someone else?

              1. re: boagman

                lol, sometimes I have to get used to it too

                I actually know some of the sordid story behind Drakes. Let's just say that there was a VERY ugly divorce involved and a spiteful and acrimonious decision led to it being closed and sold. There was every effort to have it continue being Drakes, and a counter effort to see that that NEVER happened.

                I support Blimpy's decision to move. The owner said it was a really good deal for the building owner (Krazy Jim's widow) if they sold out. It's just a huge bummer because a) that corner was iconic and b) it just won't be the same.

                1. re: charlesbois

                  It would have been nice if Blimpy's could have stuck around for just one more football season though.

                2. re: boagman

                  If it's an economic problem, true. OTOH, I never love seeing something replaced by yet another faceless chain. The world would be perfectly fine without the Bruegger's bagels now in the old Drake's spot. How about, at least, something locally owned and interesting?

                  1. re: HillsofBeverly

                    My only point, really, was economic. I'm right there with you about faceless chains...but when you're the one renting out the space, those faceless chains offer some serious cash, and the stability to keep them there for a while.

                    Unless it's a Quizno's, I suppose. ;)

                    1. re: boagman

                      It's not a chain taking over the spaceā€”the Borg-like university bought it. Blimpy's owner is, at least, being well-compensated and will be reopening soon elsewhere.

                    2. re: HillsofBeverly

                      Hear, hear! Every time something gets replaced with another Starbucks I cry a little inside.

            2. Didn't the "aura" of Blimpy Burgers come, at least in some part, from the slightly seedy shop itself?

              2 Replies
              1. re: RedTop

                That and the fact that it was your classic greasy burger joint---and that they kind of yelled at you for your order :)

                1. re: Elyssa

                  It wasn't always that way. I think my first Blimpy burger was in 1964. There was no assembly line; you ordered your burger at the counter and they made it. In the 70s Krazy Jim's suffered a bit as the health food craze took off. The Blimpy of that era was Soybean Cellars' (now Seva I believe) "Persea", toasted whole grain bread with cheese melted over a fat tomato slice topped with mashed avocado (very exotic back then) and minced scallions. I missed the 80s and 90s, but I suspect things had started to right themselves then as when I returned in the oughts Blimpys had become a cult classic. The assembly line rules had been instigated, and many options had been added. I will miss the old place. I have fond memories of a particularly inebriated night in the 70s when we were passing by at closing time and the evening manager gave us a sack of triple cheese Blimpys on onion rolls which hadn't been picked up. Manna from heaven. Simpler times I know.

              2. I am happy to have visited this place a few times. It was truly a gem and one of my favourite burgers anywhere.

                I do look forward to the new place. Here's hoping they can bring the magic over with them.

                They did a pretty cool take on "The Last Supper" that you can see here: http://blimpylastsupper.com/

                DT