Update, July 9, 9:16 p.m.: Kelly A. Allen, an attorney representing the owner of Cantina Diablo’s and Red Fox English Pub, has issued a statement refuting the claims made by a group calling themselves the Take Back Royal Oak Coalition. “There was no indication from ownership that either Cantina Diablos or Red Fox English Pub is closing,” Allen says. “The owners will continue to operate in Royal Oak, hopefully for years to come.”
On the heels of the abrupt closure of Andiamo, a group claiming to represent business owners in Royal Oak has alleged that three more downtown restaurants are threatening to close over a development dispute with the city. The group calling themselves the Take Back Royal Oak Coalition claimed that Cantina Diablo’s, Red Fox English Pub, and Dixie Moon Saloon had decided not to renew their leases due to the reduced number of parking spots in the area. Representatives for Cantina Diablo’s and Red Fox English Pub have refuted the bizarre claim.
Royal Oak closed a major parking lot in front of city hall in May as preparation for the construction of a new Civic Center and private office building. At the same time, the city commission also voted to raise parking rates downtown last month. A new seven-story parking deck is expected to open next year with 580 new parking spaces, but not everyone in downtown Royal Oak is satisfied with the new parking arrangement.
“The new office building will consume all the spots in the new deck, leaving none for any other existing business,” restaurateur Shepherd Spencer, owner of Little Tree Sushi and Dixie Moon Saloon, said in a statement released by the group. “This has led me to think carefully about the future of my other ventures, as many others have in Royal Oak.” (Eater has reached out to verify the statements.) Spencer was previously a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the Take Back Royal Oak Coalition last year against the city. If the plaintiffs succeed, the city would be required “to create a workable site plan, lower costs to taxpayers and provide ample parking for everyone, including the handicapped.”
Andiamo Group’s CEO Joe Vicari had been vocal throughout the weekend, blaming the closure of the 19-year-old restaurant location on the lack of parking as well as lease issues and declining sales. “Closing Andiamo Royal Oak wasn’t an easy decision after 19-years in this community, but the lack of long-term parking left me no choice,” Vicari said in statement through the Take Back Royal Oak Coalition. “Walking from a parking structure a few blocks away isn’t a problem during good weather, unless you’re disabled or elderly, but in inclement weather businesses are going to suffer, which is why I decided to cut our losses now.”
In statements reported by the Detroit News, Royal Oak’s Mayor Michael Fournier was unswayed by Vicari’s complaints about the parking situation and suggested the problem might actually be Andiamo’s food. “He seems quick to blame others and doesn’t offer any reflection on what he could have done better,” Fournier said. “He admits sales have been down 25% for the past couple years. This has nothing to do with parking and landlords, but perhaps everything to do with the product he offers.” Fournier added that the area around Andiamo has more than 1,000 parking spaces. “I wish Mr. Vicari the best of luck and hopefully he can find an outer-suburban strip mall with an oasis of parking that suits his business model better.”
Eater has reached out to Fournier for comment regarding the claims. Stay tuned for updates.
Correction: A previous version of this article suggested that Cantina Diablo’s and Red Fox English Pub were planning not to renew their leases. Portions of this article have been updated to reflect that the owners do not intend to close the restaurants.
• Royal Oak Suffers Major Business Loss Over Parking [PR Newswire]
• Four Restaurants in Downtown Royal Oak to Close Due to City Center Development [DBiz]
• Andiamo Royal Oak Closes, Cites Parking and Landlord Issues [Detroit News]
• Andiamo Owner Blames Rent and Parking Woes for Abrupt Shutter in Royal Oak [ED]
• All Feuds Coverage [ED]