Another restaurant from Fort Street Galley’s opening lineup is preparing to close up shop after less than a year. Allenby, an Israeli-influenced food stall helmed by two Selden Standard alums, confirmed on Wednesday in a statement to Instagram that the restaurant will be vacating the downtown Detroit food hall on Saturday, June 29.
Owners Michael Goldberg and Katie Nelson opened Allenby in December alongside fellow food stalls Isla, Lucky’s Noble BBQ, and Pursue. The food stall served a Mediterranean and American menu with options like corned beef sandwiches, chicken schnitzel, shakshuka, and Yemenite falafel.
Reached by Eater, Goldberg says that he and Nelson put their notice in with food hall operator Galley Group about a month ago. “It’s just not busy enough for four restaurants to survive right now,” Goldberg says of Fort Street Galley. In April, Allenby cut the majority of its staff in order to make payroll and let go of an additional part-time employee about three weeks ago. The stall is now run solely by Goldberg and Nelson with one part-time worker during brunch on the weekends. “I love the concept here,” he says. “It just hasn’t really caught on yet and for us it’s been not worth it to continue.”
The closure of Allenby will mark the second restaurant departure from Fort Street Galley since May. Chef Mike Han’s Korean-influenced seafood spot Pursue closed last month due to low sales. Prior to the shutter, Pursue had been placed on a 30-day improvement plan to grow its business by the Galley Group. In contrast Allenby was not placed on a remediation period, according to Goldberg.
View this post on Instagram
Today we are sad to announce we will be closing on June 29th. We had great hopes for operating in the Fort Street Galley but it has become unsustainable for us to continue over the last few months. It was a very hard decision but ultimately it had to be made. We continue to stand by our food and our concept. We could not be more proud of what we have accomplished and for me personally it has been the most meaningful food I’ve been able to cook in my career. Hopefully this will not be the end for Allenby as we will continue to look for a new location and hopefully reopen. Thank you, Michael Goldberg Katie Nelson
Galley Group, which operates multiple food halls across the Rust Belt and is expanding throughout the Midwest, bills itself as a restaurant incubator. Restaurants selected to open in Galley food halls pay 30 percent of their revenue to the company in lieu of down payments, security deposits, and rent. Galley takes care of the buildout for the space, as well as the insurance, utilities, and marketing for partnering restaurants. This theoretically results in a relatively low cost of entry for the operator — around $7,500 for inventory and labor.
The closure of Allenby is the latest sign that Detroit’s Galley may not be fairing as well as Galley food halls in other cities. The company, for example, replaced Pursue with a Galley Group-operated stall called Table Detroit with a menu from a chef at Smallman Galley in Pittsburgh. It now appears that another Galley alum from Pittsburgh, Michigan & Trumbull may be temporarily filling Allenby’s vacant space in Detroit during the construction of the owner’s standalone Corktown restaurant.
Eater reached out to the Galley Group for comment on Allenby’s closure as well as the opening of Michigan & Trumbull. “We are strong believers in Allenby and enjoyed working with them, but mutually decided this decision was best for both concepts. We wish their team all the best,” Galley Group co-founder Ben Mantica says in a statement released on Thursday.
Despite the financial challenges, Goldberg says he learned a lot from the experience at Fort Street Galley. “I’ve managed kitchens before, but I’ve never been an owner opening a restaurant and we learned a lot real quick,” he says. “It’s kind of a crash course in opening a restaurant... It’s been a great learning opportunity.”
Goldberg and Nelson aren’t sure what they will do next, but hope to someday open Allenby elsewhere. “We believe we put out good food and had a good concept. It may just not be the right time right now,” he says. “We’d like to hopefully at some point find a new location.”
Allenby plans to offer its full menu as long as possible through the closing and will remain open on June 29 until sold out.
Update, 9:27 a.m., June 20: This story has been updated with a statement from the Galley Group.