Downtown Detroit’s The Green Room salad bar is preparing to move on from its longtime location at 120 W Congress St. inside the Ford Building, though the owners are still uncertain of where exactly the restaurant will land.
The owners wrote a widely shared post on its Facebook page on January 18, announcing that the restaurant’s lease was ending and requesting leads on possible new locations:
After tomorrow, there will only be 14 weeks left before the Green Room is homeless. We are trying to find a new home and it has proven to be more difficult that we thought. We are open to any and all ideas any of you may have. DM us if you have any leads!
The post was accompanied by a version of the Distracted Boyfriend meme, implying that the Ford Building owners were more interested in corporate restaurant chains than maintaining relationships with longtime tenants like The Green Room.
Reached by Eater, owner Steve Zuccaro says The Green Room was notified in mid-October by the buildings ownership that their lease would be terminated in 180 days based on a clause buried in their original paperwork. According to those terms, their lease on the space is set to expire on April 20.
Zuccaro says he felt trouble brewing throughout 2017 as the Ford Building changed hands several times. The newest developers Zaid Elia and Matthew Shiffman (who co-own Parc in Campus Martius) acquired the 100-year-old high-rise on Griswold Street last July, according to Crain’s, with plans to begin a $4 million renovation.
The Green Room’s quick-service, carryout salad bar originally opened in its tiny, 385-square-foot space at the base of the Ford Building in 1996 and was purchased by Zuccaro in 2004. “We’ve weathered the lean years and now that things are sort of bouncing back and we’re reaping the benefits,” he says of the timing. “We kind of feel like the rug is being ripped out from under our feet.”
Zuccaro says he has made efforts to work with the new building ownership, offering to renovate the restaurant in tandem with the other renovations happening in the building. But the ownership were unswayed by those proposals.
“If you want something like an adult meal — something quick, something cheap — we really have that niche. We tried to take that direction with the building saying ‘We’d love to remodel with you and be part of your vision,’ but they weren’t really into that,” Zuccaro says. “We’re the old guard who doesn’t quite fit their vision.”
Since learning that their lease was ending last fall, The Green Room has been on the hunt for a new location close to their original space so that they can continue to meet the needs of their lunchtime clientele. However, vacant spaces in downtown Detroit’s buildings are in high demand these days and the task is proving difficult.
Since sharing the Facebook post, Zuccaro (who also owns Lunch Box Deli and Burrito Mundo) says The Green Room has received many suggestions for other locations outside of downtown but hasn’t given up on finding a new space in the area yet.. “We want to exhaust our resources completely before we move onto that phase,” he says.