Japanese steakhouse project hits parking snags

Greater Farmington Area Chamber Business Expo

The new owners of the Grand Bakery & Cafe and an adjacent property on Grand River face a familiar challenge as they work to bring a sushi bar and Japanese steakhouse to downtown Farmington.

It’s parking.

Xie Zheng, LLC plans to convert the cafe into a sushi bar and build a two-story, brick building at 32905 Grand River to house a 120-seat Samurai Steakhouse. Each building will have four apartments on the second floor.

Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen said during a Monday Planning Commission review that downtown restaurant parking space requirements are based on the number of chairs (1:3). The apartments require two spaces per unit. In all, owners must come up with 75 spaces.

The former cafe had 14 parking spaces, and plans for the new building call for a 21-space parking lot. Nearby public parking – including on-street Grand River spaces and the Groves retail center and Downtown Farmington Center parking lots – will offset some of the deficiency.

“The owners are working with adjacent property owners to find shared parking,” Christiansen said. That includes Great Lakes Ace (west), Farmington West Apartments (south), Village Commons (north), and the former Mother Mary’s Toffee building (east). “The city has been working very closely with the DDA (Downtown Development Authority) and the owners of the properties. so that we can put something together and move forward with this PUD (Planned Unit Development).”

Representing Xie Zheng LLC, Mike Kemsely said the company is looking at the purchase and dme of the Mother Mary’s building to add about a dozen parking spots and could also reduce restaurant seating.

“Obviously as restaurant owners, we don’t want to do that, but to make everything work, we’re willing to do that,” he said.

If the Village Commons parking is used for overflow parking, commissioner Steve Majoros would like to see a crosswalk for the safety of patrons crossing Grand River. Christiansen said a crosswalk may be possible at School Street.

Commissioner Miriam Kmetzo asked Kemsley why Farmington was chosen for the company’s second Japanese steakhouse. The first is located on Haggerty Road in West Bloomfield.

“We think downtown Farmington is a good community, and right now we think it’s underdeveloped,” he said. “We think the food’s great, and we’re good people.”

Comments from Monday’s Planning Commission meeting will be worked into a revised plan that will come back for review at a future meeting.