Unexpected restaurant closings hit the city

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 8, 2015

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — The end of the year is looking like the end of business for some St. Clair Shores restaurants, with the new Biggby Coffee closing unexpectedly in November, as well as Tin Fish restaurant at Jefferson Beach Marina.

“Biggby, just the sales were not what they were expecting,” said City Manager Mike Smith. “We have reached out to them to try to find out what their plan is, what they’re doing. I find it hard to believe they made that kind of investment and don’t have a fallback plan.”

The coffee shop, located north of 11 Mile Road on the west side of Harper Avenue, closed Nov. 24. Plans for Biggby to come to the corner were years in the making, with a brownfield site on the corner first planned for the location that needed to be cleaned up, and then the shop eventually opening instead in an adjacent, existing building. 

“The Biggby one was ... surprising,” Smith said. “I was a little shocked they didn’t take the corner in the first place, (but) to come in right after Tim Hortons” may have hurt prospective business.

Smith said he wasn’t as surprised about the closing of Tin Fish, however. The restaurant leased the building from Jefferson Beach Marina.

“We’ve been hearing some rumors for a while about that, and I guess we knew they were having some issues there,” he said. 

But with Tin Fish’s other locations in Clinton Township, Fair Haven and Novi all closing, Smith wasn’t surprised that the St. Clair Shores location wasn’t sustainable either.

“Frankly, I don’t think our Police Department is going to be terribly upset about it,” Smith said. “We don’t like any business going under, but they just seemed to have a lot of activity there.”

He said he’s confident that Jefferson Beach Marina will find another tenant before next spring.

“The folks at Jefferson Beach are very good at making sure that doesn’t stay empty very long,” he said. 

Semo Post, the general manager at Jefferson Beach Marina, agreed that was the case.

“We’re very confident that we’re going to have an outstanding operator in there come spring,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to continue to do what’s best for the marina and what’s best for the community.” 

The restaurant closed Nov. 15, he said, after being open for three years. The closing was not due to rent issues or the end of a lease.

“It was a mutual agreement,” he said.

Post said Jefferson Beach Marina hopes to have a long-term relationship with the next operator of the restaurant. 

“We’re looking for the right fit, and we’re confident that we’re on the right track,” he said. 

Calls to Tin Fish proprietors Candis and Allison Koch seeking comment were not returned by press time. 

In the south end of the city, Smith said they are working with the owners of Linda’s Place, which is undergoing renovations, on their plans for the building. And, he said, there are new coffee shops planned for the city as well.

“We’ve got some good stuff happening,” he said.