Jerusalem Garden, a Middle Eastern restaurant currently residing in a very cramped building in downtown Ann Arbor, is planning to expand their booming business and relocate to Seva’s (vegetarian restaurant) former location later this year. Seva recently relocated to a different part of Ann Arbor.
After 27 years in the business, Jerusalem Garden owner, Ali Ramlawi finalized the lease for the move on Sunday, March 30th, 2014 to relocate the Middle Eastern Restaurant to the former Seva building located at 314 E. Liberty Avenue.
“The place is open, its a beautiful location” Ramlawi said, when asked about the move.
Jerusalem Garden first opened its doors in 1987, in a building that was a mere 350 square feet, with Ramlawi’s father, Ribhi, behind the wheel. Ramlawi, took over later after his father’s death in 1993. Currently located at 307 S. Fifth Ave. in downtown Ann Arbor, the restaurant, which has since expanded to 1,130 square feet still often has to turn away customers because the tiny restaurant is simply too cramped.
Space is really the only issue for this restaurant, as its been a great success since its early days. The only logical solution is to quit expanding and relocate instead.
“Initially, I had a fondness for my place. I’ve been working here since I was 12-years-old, it’s like my home. The idea of leaving wasn’t my first choice, but after I exhausted the possibilities of doing any more here, we started exploring the idea of moving (around the corner).”
While the raised rent at the building was one of the main reasons Seva decided to relocate, Ramlawi says it is not a concern for him, that the business is doing just fine, even with their current sales numbers. He has even mentioned his desire to hire more employees, doubling his staff to 45 people.
I for one am extremely excited about this opportunity for Jerusalem Garden. About a year or two ago, my fiance’ and I tried to visit the restaurant because we heard they have amazing food, but couldn’t even get through the front door, it was so crowded. It definitely left a negative lasting impression and we never bothered to go back.
To say the restaurant is cramped is an understatement. There is literally a line that leads outside the door, and you can’t even turn around inside the restaurant. I honestly don’t know how the employees even cook, because their diner/kitchen area is just as small.
Jerusalem Garden’s big move will happen sometime in the fourth quarter of 2014.
I am eager to see what Ramlawi will do with the space. The building is absolutely gorgeous, and while Seva resided there I absolutely loved the layout and decor, and was disappointed to see it go. The natural light and decor was so earth friendly and charming. I will be curious to see if Ramlawi will take advantage of this, or change the 70’s green marble floor, and earthy charm altogether.
Another feature that Seva’s former building has is a bar area. While Ramlawi has mentioned not really wanting to obtain a liquor license, he has mentioned expanding their menu to include more fresh juices and smoothies. When Seva was at the location, they had a fresh juice bar and it was very successful. With a bar already intact, could Jerusalem Garden give other nearby smoothie restaurants in downtown Ann Arbor (i.e. Tropical Smoothie Cafe, etc.) a run for their money? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Either way, you can bet on one thing–I’ll be one of the first customers to try a Jerusalem Garden dish, after the move, now that I can actually fit inside the restaurant.
Their menu contains lots of different falafel sandwich options, which just happens to be one of my favorite meals. I can’t wait!
The Ann Arbor News