A little bit of Ypsi coming to a town near you…. maybe

    AnnArbor.com has a piece by Tom Perkins today on Sandee, Bill and Andy French and their plans to franchise the popular Depot Town restaurant Aubree’s. I’d known that they had aspirations in this direction for a while now, but I had no idea how serious they were about it. According to the article, they even went so far as to hire consults from Chicago’s iFranchise Group, with the intention of creating a new menu that would appeal to a broad cross section of the American population. Here’s a clip from the article:

    …Aubree’s Saloon and Aubree’s Pizzeria and Tavern owners Bill and Andy French are assembling a franchising plan, and the father and son team hopes to see several locations open by the end of the year. They’ll look at a regional expansion first, in Ohio and Indiana, and then at points beyond.

    The Frenches opened the original Aubree’s Saloon in Depot Town and expanded with Aubree’s Pizzeria and Tavern in Ypsilanti Township. Most recently, the Frenches set up a Northville Aubree’s Pizzeria and Tavern location, which will serve as a model for franchised restaurants.

    “We think we have a great story to tell,” Andy French said. “Michigan’s economy has been tough for a number of years, and we’ve been able to be successful in it. We believe the pizza-beer-casual restaurant setting will be successful in any economic time.”

    The Northville location, which is on “franchise row” at Eight Mile and Haggerty roads, proved successful immediately by turning a profit within a year. That provided the Frenches with confidence that their formula could work, Andy French said…

    It seems like a risky move to me, but I hope it works for them. I’m generally against the idea of franchises, but it’s different, in my mind, when they’re Michigan based. Plus, I’d love to be able to get an Old Detroiter (my favorite Aubree’s burger) when on the highway, away from home. Now, if I could just get them to agree to put an animatronic Mark Maynard at every bar, leering at people while dunking his potato skins into his beer.

    For those of you who don’t get the reference, here’s a clip from an ABC News article:

    The U.S. Supreme Court apparently has no interest in one of America’s most-loved TV comedies.

    Justices rejected a review of a dispute between the actors who played Norm and Cliff on the former bar comedy Cheers and the show’s producers Monday. Actors George Wendt and John Ratzenberger sued over the creation of two robots, “Hank” and “Bob,” which were displayed at airport bars and which they claim resemble them.

    The justices, without any comment or dissent, let stand a ruling by a U.S. appeals court in California that reinstated the lawsuit by Wendt and Ratzenberger after a federal judge in Los Angeles had dismissed it.

    Wendt, who played alcoholic accountant Norm, and Ratzenberger, who played Cliff, the factoid-obsessed mailman, claimed that Host International Inc. (licensed by Paramount Pictures) was exploiting their identities without their permission by using two life-sized, talking robots at a chain of Cheers-type airport bars….

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      6 Comments

      1. Zzzzzzzz
        Posted February 10, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

        Their place in the township feels like a franchise, but I guess that was the point. The food and service are good, but the place lacks authenticity. Still, though, it’s better than TGI Fridays.

      2. Knox
        Posted February 11, 2011 at 7:04 am | Permalink

        I don’t know that people in other parts of the country if people would eat something called an Old Detroiter. If they’re shooting for Middle America, how about calling in the Larry the Cable Guy? Or the Tea Party Delight? Or the Professional Wrestling is Real burger?

      3. Edward
        Posted February 11, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        A question about that ABC News article – Was it ever established that Norm was an “alcoholic” on that show?

      4. Anonymous
        Posted February 11, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        Does anyone miss the old Aubrees? I feel as though it’s becoming too corporate, and I don’t like the new menu so much. I appreciate that they’re trying to build something, and still go there, but my sense is that it’s fading.

      5. Rex
        Posted February 11, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        You really think that Dominos and Little Cesars are different from Papa Johns somehow, just because they are Michigan based?
        I think Aubree’s already feels like a chain, and it is a shame. I’m more interested in supporting food business that cares about its supply chain. Aubree’s is shooting to make its wheel in the corporate food machine a little bigger, and I’d rather see something better.

      6. Tom
        Posted February 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        I have only been to the Depot Town location, so I can’t vouch for the others, but I think it isn’t what it used to be. It is also not smoky anymore so I can go there with the kids for $5 calzones.

        They also have a fourth location in Marquette . I will be up there in a couple weeks so I might check it out.

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