Closed: Kerby's Koney Island on Whittaker in Ypsilanti Township 1 year after shifting from Ram's Horn
The 180-seat Kerby’s Koney Island on Whittaker Road in Ypsilanti Township apparently has closed, almost a year to the day after owner Moe Chami opened it.
Kerby’s Koney Island, the only franchise of the corporate-owned chain that has 24 locations in Metro Detroit, was Chami’s second shot at trying to make a go of a restaurant at the site in front of the Paint Creek Crossing shopping center. He opened the coney island after folding a Ram’s Horn restaurant. No one answered the phone at Kerby’s Koney Island and Chami could not be reached for comment.
But the restaurant took down its sign, turned off its lights and posted a closing sign on its front door earlier this week, said Richard Glaze, general manager of Stony Creek Koney Island, located nearby. He said his coney island has been getting Kerby’s traffic all week.
Two weeks ago, the electronic sign in front of Kerby's was gone, said Lee Phillips, co-owner of Stony Creek Koney. Then last Sunday, a company that brokers used restaurant equipment called to see if he was interested in equipment from Kerby's.
"That was kind of a indicator that something was happening," Phillips said.
The closing comes as a surprise to Kerby’s Koney Island corporate headquarters. Jennie Hancock, who works in the company’s office, said she thought the restaurant was still open.
“I mailed them a package two days ago,” she said. No one else from the company was available Friday for comment.
It hasn’t been a lucky spot for Chami. He bought the Ram’s Horn franchise in fall 2009 from Sam and Nabil Berry, who had been evicted from two Big Boy restaurants they owned in Washtenaw County, leaving a trail of 75 unhappy employees who were surprised by the sudden closing.
They organized a boycott of the Ypsilanti Township Ram’s Horn, which the Berry family still owned. Chami said he didn’t know about the the boycott when he purchased the franchise from the Berry family.
The boycott continued, despite the change in ownership, and Chami said at the time he was never able to recover. He closed the Ram’s Horn after less than six months. He blamed the boycott along with the weak economy and a menu that was too large and expensive for the closing.
He said at the time he hoped the lower price points of Kerby’s would be more successful, and that he hoped to open a second Kerby’s in Washtenaw County.