Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison posted a Facebook status update on May 21, admonishing residents to stop fearmongering by predicting the “death” of downtown Royal Oak.
Ellison was referring to several empty storefronts along Main Street, vacant after several independent, well-loved businesses closed their doors. The city lost longtime retail favorites Incognito and Footprints, the shoe store famous for its comfy fashions, closed after more than 30 years. Those closures, combined with the opening of several chain restaurants over the past few years, have some residents concerned that the city — once known for its originality — is becoming homogenized.
Responding to these fears, Mayor Ellison took to social media, posting on his personal account the plans for several empty spots, many of which will become independent eateries. La Dulce, a Spanish coffee and pastry shop, leased the former Footprints storefront. The empty Caribou Coffee will become an independent coffee shop, serving a light menu, and the former Chrome store will become either a yoga store or a desserts shop.
Perhaps most exciting is Michael Symon’s recent announcement that the now-closed Gemayze restaurant on Main Street will become the next location for his B Spot Burgers. The Rochester Hills location opened near Oakland University last week, and Royal Oak should have its own Michael Symon-made burgers to devour by fall.
While Royal Oak hardly needs another dessert shop or burger spot, residents will probably welcome anything that isn’t another chain — especially a Mexican one.