After nearly a decade of serving crispy calamari, zuppa, risotto and other family recipes in Detroit’s Grand Circus Park, owners of Angelina Italian Bistro have decided to close.
The final dinner service will be Dec. 10.
There have been a few years of public discontent with its landlord, and now the restaurant’s owners and Bedrock real estate company have a favorable deal on how to proceed.
“It’s well-documented some of the differences we’ve had with our landlord,” said Angelina co-owner Tom Agosta. “We came to an agreement, and we’re happy with it, and the agreement was that we move.”
Between now and the closing date, Agosta said he wants to encourage customers to use any gift cards they have and enjoy a last meal at the restaurant, which is within walking distance of all three stadiums and theaters such as the Detroit Opera House and Fox Theatre.
“We’re sorry to see Angelina’s move on, since they’ve been a fixture in Grand Circus Park during a very exciting period in Detroit’s history,” said Bedrock CEO Jim Ketai in an e-mail to The Detroit News. “It is our plan to find another dining establishment for the space that will complement the neighborhood and serve the area as it continues to grow. We’re grateful to all of our long-term tenants for the contributions they’ve made downtown and Angelina’s is no exception. We wish their team the very best as they plan the next stages of their business.”
Agosta said when he and his partners opened Angelina in 2008, they were doing what many restaurants boast now: made-from-scratch cooking and an emphasis on hospitality.
“It was unique in that we tried to cook like our Sicilian grandmothers,” he said. “It was what we started out to do and were actually very successful, aside from the first few years when everyone was under water ... in 2008, ’09, ’10.”
Even with attendance at Detroit Tiger games being “way down” this year, Agosta said they’re still looking to have better sales than the year before.
While sales are good, Agosta pointed to changes downtown, namely parking near his restaurant, which he calls “out of control.” He said rates can get as high as $40 during downtown events, and parking tickets have gone from $10 to $45.
As for what is next, there is no concrete plan. Agosta said he is considering collaborating with other Detroit restaurants that have “similar values” to his when it comes to quality and affordable pricing.
“We’re looking,” he said. “It’s hard to find a place where we can do the kind of food we’re doing at the pricing we do — and I think that’s important. We can’t have a downtown Detroit restaurant scene that only serves $15-$20 glasses of wine and it’s $50-$60 for one person to eat.”
Once closed, the bistro will donate some of its kitchen equipment and supplies to the incubator kitchen at Central United Methodist Church on Woodward. Agosta said the church has a program that helps those in need learn skills so they can obtain employment in the restaurant industry.
Agosta said he also is working with other local restaurants to advocate for jobs for Angelina’s staff once it closes.
Angelina Italian Bistro, 1565 Broadway in Detroit, is open 5-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 4-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and 4-8 p.m. Sundays. Call (313) 962-1355 or visit angelinadetroit.com.