University of Michigan and Ann Arbor community members are mourning the news that local breakfast staple Angelo’s will close its doors at the end of this year. The restaurant, owned by husband-wife duo Steve and Jennifer Vangelatos, first opened in 1956 under the management of Steve Vangelatos’s father, Angelo. Since then, the business has not only expanded to include an in-house bakery and Angelo’s on the Side, an adjacent location exclusively for takeout and coffee, but has also grown into a beloved classic for students, alumni and Ann Arbor residents alike.
Rising LSA junior Rachel Cohn, a frequent Angelo’s customer, said she was saddened to hear the news of its closing because it is her and her friends’ go-to breakfast spot.
“Me and my friends, that was our one brunch spot that we always went to,” Cohn said. “(Angelo’s) just meant a lot to us, so it’s a little bittersweet.”
For homesick college students, a family-run diner like Angelo’s can be just what they need. Cohn said she believes Angelo’s is a favorite among U-M students in part because it feels like a homemade breakfast.
“The vibes of (Angelo’s) are very wholesome and I think some of the other brunch spots in Ann Arbor just have very different vibes and feel,” Cohn said. “Angelo’s feels more like I’m getting a homemade breakfast at my house with my friends.”
Rising LSA junior Madison Brown said she believes it is this comforting energy that makes Angelo’s stand out among Ann Arbor’s many restaurants.
“(Angelo’s) is your quintessential college diner, and I don’t think there is really something similar on campus,” Brown said. “It has this charm about it that doesn’t really have to do with flashy decor or a more modern or millennial style. It is its own little thing.”
Angelo’s is set to close in December following a $4.5 million purchase by the University of Michigan of 1100 Catherine Street, which includes the restaurant, as well as two residential apartments. The University plans to use this land to expand the Michigan Medicine campus.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Steve Vangelatos said he made the decision to sell the property to the University because of a promise he made to his wife when they got married.
“I’ve been working seven days a week for 43 years,” Vangelatos said. “I promised my wife when we got married that if she allowed me to work as much as I needed to work to make this place successful that someday I would stop working. And there was nobody that wanted to take the restaurant over and so that resulted in selling the property.”
Helping Vangelatos run this brunch spot is a team of dedicated staff. Amy Marzka, long time Angelo’s employee, told The Daily the staff is sad to see the restaurant close but recognizes how much Vangelatos dedicated to its operation.
“Everyone is sad to see the place go,” Marzka said. “But we’re happy for the owner because he has worked so hard.”
At the University’s Board of Regents meeting on May 18, Geoffrey Chatas, U-M executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the purchase made sense as the University already owns the surrounding land and could give the Vangelatos family time to close the business.
“The University has been presented with an opportunity to purchase property from the Vangelatos family who, for decades, have been running Angelo’s, a beloved icon in Ann Arbor,” Chatas said. “When the family approached the University about the possibility of selling (the property), they explained that they want to close the business on their own terms … The property makes sense for the University to acquire since it will further the University’s options for development in the Catherine Street area.”
The sale is set to close no later than March 31, 2024 to give Vangelatos time to close Angelo’s and vacate the property. Vangelatos said the restaurant will likely close on December 23 — like they do every year — but this time, come January, they will not reopen their doors.
“I feel like it’s going to be like we usually do every other year,” Vangelatos said. “We’ve closed on December 23 (for) the holidays and we usually would reopen either January 1 or January 2. It’ll be just like that this year, except we’re not going to reopen in January.”
Vangelatos said he would consider the possibility of reopening Angelo’s in a new location if he was able to find someone else to run it.
“I would definitely consider doing that if it was somebody that I knew would be willing to put the work in and I thought could maybe be successful,” Vangelatos said. “It’s possible, (but) it won’t be somewhere that I will be running or that I want to be really involved in.”
At the regents meeting, University President Santa Ono recognized how much the U-M community would miss Angelo’s.
“I must say that thousands of Wolverines will miss that wonderful place for brunch and for other meals,” Ono said.
Although Angelo’s has fans throughout Ann Arbor, it holds a special place in the hearts of many U-M students. Vangelatos said he is grateful for all that the University and its students have done for him, but it is time for him to end this chapter of his career.
“I really appreciate the University of Michigan and the students and, I mean, they’re a big part of our success here and then the whole town of Ann Arbor really,” Vangelatos said. “I was very fortunate to be in this position … (but now I want to focus on) spending time with my wife and my family.”
Summer News Editor Rebecca Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Summer Managing News Editor Mary Corey can be reached at email@example.com.