When the Fleetwood originally opened in 1949, it was called the Dagwood. The owner, Donald Reid, had to petition the city for an exception in the recently enacted law which required masonry for all new restaurant construction. The diner is a small building, so it seemed only practical to include indoor and outdoor seating. Once the spring came around, Reid put tables and chairs out on the sidewalk and it became Ann Arbor’s first sidewalk café. In 1971, the diner changed hands to the third owner, and it was renamed the Fleetwood Diner.
Downtown Ann Arbor has plenty of dining options, but the Fleetwood has become a favorite with locals because of its friendly staff, good food, and availability. It has won several awards, being voted best local diner in 2008 and best townie hangout in 2006. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so it is always open to night owls, early birds, and everyone in between. If you have a good sense of what kind of townies Ann Arbor has, you won’t be surprised to hear that the specialty dish is called “Hippie Hash.” (I was referring to the hippies, not the hash!) Hippie Hash is made of a layer of hash browns, topped with green peppers, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, and feta cheese. The Fleetwood also has plenty of breakfast dishes, soups, sandwiches, burgers, and fried foods; just about everything you would expect from a diner, with good options for vegetarians too. If you are skeptical of the quality of food coming from a metal trailer, you can feel free to sit at the counter and watch your food prepared right in front of you!
The Fleetwood Diner doesn’t try to do anything too special. In the last 60 years, there haven’t been any exciting renovations or menu overhauls. They are focused on keeping the local clientele happy. Stop by any time, and you can see the walls covered in stickers advertising local bands, local businesses and politics. You can grab a coffee, read any of the local papers for free, or just watch other people eating. If you are in the Ann Arbor area, you can stop by and get some delicious food for a great price at the historic diner. If the distance is just too far, you can see the Fleetwood Diner featured in the film, The Five-Year Engagement coming out in 2012. ~Jack Durham, Regional Director