About those empty Royal Oak storefronts

May 30, 2014

Main Street Royal Oak

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.

  • Scott Crammer

    Michael Symon’s BSPOT is all hype!! Decent food, not real flexible on substitution/additions…$16 for a grass widow pour of Whiskey that costs 7 bucks anywhere downtown, burger wasnt temped correctly, pickled bar is really small (6 items), very corporate feel overall…Vinsetta Garage is everything they wish they were!

  • Heidi MacRae Comartin

    There is still a lot of property unaccounted for, like the barnes and noble empty store front, inconito, the wine shop, beruits old store front to name a few. Also theres already several bakeries, numerous frozen yogurt, burger places and coffe/tea joints. Royal Oak is becoming Ferndales neighbor and is/has lost its novelty.

  • Jen

    I always thought Incognito and Footprints were very over priced.

  • Steven Brincat

    Royal Oak is so over. The “coolness” has been moving south to Ferndale and south of 8 Mile; Midtown and Downtown Detroit are the real “downtowns” and of course Corktown! Royal Oak gets more boring by the minute…more burgers, coffee and dessert, really? That’s all there is in Royal Oak, oh and of course overpriced Parking Meters! Royal Oak is so over!

  • Frustrated

    The parking situation in Royal Oak is what really keeps people away. They ticket like no tomorrow.

  • Danielle

    I am actually more worried about the empty businesses along Woodward that make the city look like a dump. People have started to spray paint on them and the buildings are falling apart. I pay too much in taxes to look at that.

  • Cheerleader

    Royal Oak: Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.

  • Nunyaz Bizniss

    Still plenty of gel head douche and stuck up bitch bars with shat music though.

  • fenderguy

    Royal Oak disappeared in the late 1990′s. Remember the “Stop Corporate Royal Oak” shirts? I still have mine somewheres. Use to be cool with indie record and resale shops. Use to have a soul, now it is a douche bag town that unless you drive a Denali SUV you are shunned. RO use to be about art, creativity and individuality, now it just wants to be a Kaldien Birmingham.

  • Alexbensky

    And Ferndale, where I live, has a couple of book stores. Royal Oak no longer does.

  • Marian Pyszko

    Bring back the massage parlors and “The Grove”……

  • Voice In Detroit

    The loss of “chain restaurants” make Royal Oak more “homogenized”?

    Does anyone else recognize how stupid that sounds?

    Chain restaurants can bugger off as far as I’m concerned. I hate corporate food.

  • Voice In Detroit

    Yogi Berra.

    You probably should cite your source.

  • Voice In Detroit

    Chaldean. But whatever.

  • DQ

    You all need to put in a local brewery. I know it sounds random, but they really do make a difference in tying a downtown area together. Even a whiskey distillery would be cool.

  • gunboat_d

    you were bitter about RO, before being bitter was cool. Tell us more.

  • gunboat_d

    what are you trying to say?

  • LifeIsShort

    There is already three local breweries downtown and a whiskey distillery is going on Fourth St.

  • LifeIsShort

    Silliness Steven…you may not like Royal Oak, but many individuals do as the streets are backed up for blocks Thursday through Saturday trying to get downtown. New homes are being built on what seems to be every block. Obviously with all the major development plans that are happening and are planned to happen, common sense would tell me you are wrong about Royal Oak. I do not deny that certain parts of Detroit are “cool,” but I definitely do not see it in Ferndale with all their rundown retail stores and barrel bottom food options (excluding a very few good ones). What you and many others seem to miss is that Royal Oak is a great place to raise children, have a family, and still enjoy an eclectic life (as multiple recent nationwide research outlets have recently shown)–none of those communities that you mentioned can offer that, including Ferndale. By the way, change your picture, it’s not “coolness.”

  • JEspina455

    It says “the OPENING of several chain restaurants” has made it homogenized….

  • fenderguy

    Not bitter, just sad. Like most things that the underground grow, nurture and make cool, someone always has to come along and say, “Hey, how can I exploit this?” Ferndale seems to have a clue but who is fooling who, wont be long till the little guys will get pushed out of there too to make room for the Corporate machine.

  • WDIV is lame

    Um, it took me 20 minutes to get a parking space on thursday.

  • Haig

    Was the issue of parking discussed? Too many meter tickets deter people from visiting. I wonder how much revenue those generate, and and how much revenue is lost as a result.

  • RO

    I assume you are joking, right? Obviously people are going there if it’s too crowded.

  • George Romney

    They need some municipal parking structures or shuttle lots somewhere if the area is going to continue to prosper and make the rates reasonable. I never go there anymore because I live too far away to do so in anything else but a car and there’s never any available spaces when I get there. Driving around for a half hour to just park is not my idea of fun and it’s wasteful and polluting too.

  • Jarod

    The barnes and noble is going to be filled with vectorform and a buffalo wild wings