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Local Coffee Shop's 'Open' Sign Goes Dark

Big Apple Bagels' unexpected closure adds to the Downtown Farmington Center's woes.

Longtime Farmington Hills resident and "mostly retired" physician Ed Blumberg sat in his car in front of Big Apple Bagels in downtown Farmington, gazing sadly at the shop's front door.

On Thursday morning, he arrived for his usual breakfast, only to find the ovens down and no bagels for sale. Owners Rev. Paul and Kevin Bersche decided to permanently close the store. The news came as a shock not only to customers, but to downtown officials, who plan to meet soon with mall owner Kimco Realty Corp.

Paul Bersche took over the shop in 2009 with his son Kevin, a Farmington Hills firefighter, and grandson Benjamin, who has since left the business. Paul Bersche cited the economy and rising costs in talking about the store's closure.

Big Apple Bagels' closure is the third sudden business departure from the Downtown Farmington Center over the past year. In December, for the Christmas holiday and never re-opened. Quiznos sub shop also closed in late 2010. Large spaces formerly occupied by Office Depot and Tuesday Morning have been closed for several years.

The new vacancy leaves Kimco with three large holes in the Center's south building. According to the company's website, Kimco holds interest in more than 950 shopping centers, with 138 million square feet of leaseable space across 44 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico and South America. The company owns 14 properties in Michigan.

"It seems there are difficulties going on in the Center," (DDA) director Annette Knowles acknowledged Thursday. "Some representatives of the DDA are trying set up a meeting with Kimco to discuss the situation."

Knowles said that overall, downtown Farmington has about a 10 percent vacancy rate, but the majority of that space is in the Center. She said that, until recently, most of the larger companies and retail chains were not considering Michigan locations.

"It's also very well researched and documented that the strip mall environment has lost its glamour," she said. "It's time to start reinventing these places."

Knowles pointed out there are bright spots in downtown Farmington. , a cosmetics and fashion store in the Center is undergoing a significant expansion, and Tubby's sub shop has plans to move into the Center space formerly occupied by Quiznos. Elsewhere in downtown Farmington, Mentobe Cafe, a new coffee shop between and , opened its doors this week.

That's little comfort for people like Blumberg, who now have to find a new regular spot for their daily bagels.

"It's sad. They're delightful people in there," he said. "A place like this, we come, we congregate, people earn a living,"

Jeff Moore June 16, 2011 at 06:37 PM
Sooooooo bummed!!! I love going there.
Peggy June 16, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Always sad to see a local business leave. I think a lot in that mall has to do with the parking. That lot is like a rat maze. At the Fitness 19 end, if you can't find a spot in that front row, you have to turn out onto Farmington Road to get back in the parking lot. The took up so much space with trees and concrete and really made the actual parking more complicated. I think it deters a lot of people. I know it does me. If I am headed north towards Starbucks, and can't find a spot in that row, I just pull onto Grand River and instead of looping around, I go home.
Julie Campbell June 16, 2011 at 08:52 PM
I think it's time the city council stopped with the smoke and mirrors and got down to business. When the beautification project was presented to the voters it included things we actually desperately need, like a parking structure. Instead all we got for our bond dollars was "sidewalk dining" on Grand River. Our town is circling the drain, folks, and we need to do something about it before it's too late. Get TJ Maxx out of here and do whatever it takes to entice upscale shops to open up downtown. And that is going to require we do something about parking. If shoppers can't get to the shops on Saturdays from May through October because of the Farmer's Market, no business is going to prosper downtown. Either build parking or move the Farmer's Market.
Ryan Kmieciak June 16, 2011 at 11:49 PM
With all due respect to my fellow residents, getting TJM "out of here" isn't going to solve problems. There are plenty of spaces available. TJM actually has customers. The city council has very little control over what Kimco charges for rent in that strip. And, from what I've heard from former shop owners and through conversation is that high rent is the issue. I think the landlord is satisfied with the empty space and getting whatever credit they get for that space from Uncle Sam. In addition the Pavilion not only houses the Farmers and Artisans Market, but weekly concerts and other events that bring people from out of the city into the city. By the thousands each week. I agree that parking can be a bit of a challenge at times. But I've never had a big problem that looking for a space wouldn't fix. People need to stop being so lazy about parking and move their legs another 100 feet. From what I understand there is still more to come from the project. More parking included. There are an even larger lack of spaces for places like Cowley's but they seem to do fine. If what you are offering is worth it to people than they will come. As far as Big Apple is concerned, I'm sad to see the business go. Personally I was never happy with the service (under either owner). I suggest people keep it in town in the mornings and hop over to Sunflour and the new coffee shop!
Jan Jacobs June 16, 2011 at 11:53 PM
Sorry to see the Big Apple bagel closed. They supplied a lot of end of day bagels to hungry actors at the Barn Theatre. But, I do think the parking is evil at that mall, and I am there usually twice a week or more.
nancy kilner June 17, 2011 at 12:53 AM
I'm sorry to see Big Apple close its doors. I loved their bagels - best around next to Bruegger's. I suggest that people hang out at the new coffee shop next to Cowley's. It's has great atmosphere and Farmington needs to support them.
Roberta Berndt June 17, 2011 at 04:06 AM
I don't think parking has anything to do with it. It's the high rent that Kimco charges. I wish there was NO parking there at all and a much bigger park/green space like there is in Plymouth. People get all bent out of shape if they can't get a spot right in front of Starbucks or the post office. Unless you are handicapped, there is no reason you can't walk a half block like you would do in any other city.the Farmington DDA needs to get citizens to petition Kimco to start caring about the city of Farmington. We have no control over that stupid strip mall and it's ruining our town. I think the TJMaxx is fine. It's a name people are familiar with and they drive to Farmington to come there. I could do without the cheesy discount book store. Does anyone even go in there? And updating a few of the existing facades would be helpful too.
Patrick June 17, 2011 at 04:55 AM
I recall receiving a flyer in the mail from this bagel place around when it was newly opening. I picked out what I was going to order in advance and was all excited[hungry]. So I drive downtown, and what do you know the place was closed, during regular hours. So I never returned.
Nancy Cook June 17, 2011 at 03:47 PM
I think the landlord of the strip is charginig too much rent. They should keep their rent down and keep the buildings rented. You don't increase rent in these hard times. There should be some kind of rent regulation for that strip mall and the owners don't live in Farmington.
sylvia June 18, 2011 at 05:41 AM
Very sorry to see Big Apple Bagel close. We need independently-owned businesses to make our area unique & desirable. Nothing against chain stores such as TJM, but the special places, like Big Apple, add so much more to Downtown. Kimco should lower their rent & entice the owners to re-open.
Marion Cook July 19, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Perhaps you are judging prematurely Nancy without all the facts. What do you know of the financial situation of all involved?

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