Amidst an ongoing conflict between downtown Royal Oak business owners and the city government over parking woes, another restaurant has changed hands. Hussein Ahmad, owner of Lebanese restaurant chain Beirut Palace, tells Crain’s that he has sold his Royal Oak restaurant to new owners and plans to open a new location elsewhere in metro Detroit.
Ahmad opened Beirut Palace in Royal Oak 21 years ago and relocated to the downtown space at 205 S. Main St. four years ago. He alleges that business at the location — one of three Beirut Palaces in metro Detroit — dropped by 25 to 30 percent in June and later by 50 percent. He added that delivery drivers had difficulty finding parking to retrieve online orders and were receiving parking tickets. City officials tell WDIV that they made multiple attempts to reach out and work with Ahmad.
The city closed down a major parking lot in front of city hall in May, reducing the number of parking spots in the downtown area by approximately 230 spaces, in preparation for the construction of a new Civic Center and private office building. Parking rates were also raised in June. A new seven-story parking deck is expected to open next year with 580 new parking spaces, but in the meantime some businesses owners like Ahmad say their sales are suffering. Several business have departed from the area since July including Andiamo Royal Oak and Qdoba.
A group of operators including the owners of Little Tree Sushi, Dixie Moon Saloon, and Boukie’s Grill are involved in a lawsuit against the city and alleged somewhat erroneously in July that Cantina Diablo’s and Red Fox English Pub would close. Those two businesses are currently in development to reopen as Diamond’s Steak and Seafood and Pinky’s. Michael Symon’s B Spot has also closed in downtown Royal Oak as part of a series of shutters for the Ohio-based chain.
While Ahmad may be jumping ship on Royal Oak, the restaurant space isn’t expected to languish for long and won’t change much. It will reopen under a new name with different ownership and a similar menu soon. That, among other new restaurant developments in the area, suggests that restaurant investors are still interested in breaking into the downtown Royal Oak market.
• Beirut Palace Sold After 21 Years in Royal Oak [Crain’s]
• Beirut Palace Latest Restaurant to Leave Royal Oak Over Parking Problems [WDIV]
• Group Opposing Royal Oak Development Alleges More Restaurants May Close [ED]
• All Closings Coverage [ED]