Zingermans Ann Arbor
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7 Reasons Zingermans Ann Arbor is More Than a Destination

The City of Ann Arbor is closely associated with the University of Michigan, with many people automatically thinking of the Big House and the Law Quadrangle when they hear the name of the city.

But after those iconic places come to mind, the next place that you are likely to think of is Zingermans Ann Arbor. What began as a local deli in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor has blossomed into the city’s most famous community of businesses.

Zingerman’s is more than just a place that you go to in Ann Arbor — it’s a brand.

Zingerman's Deli - #Mittentrip - Ann Arbor - The Awesome Mitten
Zingerman’s Deli | photo via Lyndsay Israel

When I was first assigned Ann Arbor for my summer #MittenTrip, I did some of the preliminary research that I’m sure most of you have done before – I asked around!  I asked fellow beer enthusiasts, locals, family members, and even some customers I was waiting on at work what they thought was fun and exciting in Ann Arbor.

Nearly everyone I spoke with shared a common thread, “Be sure to check out Zingerman’s.”

“What is Zingerman’s?” I would ask. “Oh, it’s a coffee shop,” says one person. “It’s an awesome deli!” says another Michigander. “It’s an American food restaurant right outside of downtown,” says a third. It actually is a community of businesses that all support each other.

– Lyndsay Israel

Zingermanns 2
Zingerman’s Deli | photo via Zingerman’s Deli

About Zingerman’s Ann Arbor

Today, Zingerman’s Ann Arbor is a powerhouse in the city, but the entire brand blossomed with one idea shared between two entrepreneurs in the late 1970s. Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw were both working in the local restaurant scene in Ann Arbor when they began to share their ideas for starting up a deli.

It was a lot of wishful thinking and daydreaming, and that lasted for several years until Ari Weinzweig decided to leave his job to pursue his passion and Paul Saginaw found an amazing deal on a local building.

Together, they launched Zingerman’s Delicatessen, simply hoping to bring delicious sandwiches and other artisanal food items to the city. They had no idea that they were launching the brand that would one day define their beloved college town.

Now, Zingerman’s Ann Arbor is more than just a collection of businesses that bear its famous name. Rather, it’s a commitment to providing the community at large with high-quality food, all while supporting the passions of budding businesspeople.

Zingerman’s has served as an incubator for many businesses in the city, giving more people the opportunity to invest in Ann Arbor and to contribute to the eclectic, cultural city that they all hold near and dear to their hearts.

Cornman Farms is one place that is sourcing milk, meat, and vegetables for a number of the Zingerman’s community of businesses. This would be a great stop for a family exploring Ann Arbor (it’s technically in Dexter) or for anyone looking for a rustically beautiful spot for an event, business, or pleasure. – Lyndsay Israel

The Awesome Mitten-Southerner Meets Michigan: Discovering Zingerman's
Zingerman’s Deli – Ann Arbor | photo via Jennifer Bowman

Zingerman’s Deli 

422 Detroit St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Established in March 1982, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is the original Zingerman’s. Those who are looking to experience the origins of this brand will love taking a step back in time to this fast-paced deli where sandwiches are artfully crafted on fresh-baked loaves of bread and piled high with meat and toppings. 

While you will most certainly want to get a sandwich while you are there — such as the infamous Zingerman’s Reuben or the unforgettable Sherman’s Sure Choice — you also will find that there’s more to this place than lunchtime fare.

Zingerman’s Delicatessen also sells artisanal groceries, allowing you to purchase some of the most delicious cheeses, artisan breads, meats, and specialty foods in Ann Arbor. It’s the perfect place to get a bite to eat now and grab all of the supplies you need for the next meal that you are going to enjoy.

My first staff interaction with Zingerman’s was on the phone when we called ahead to order sandwiches for pick-up at the deli. Pro tip: Everyone should call ahead. It’s wayyyyy faster! The service was prompt, efficient and very warm; it makes a difference when you get good vibes from staff.

When we came to the deli for pick-up, there was staff at the door directing and organizing new guests. This is totally necessary and absolutely appreciated. Because we had called ahead, we basically had a fast-pass to the cash registers, although it was hard not to stop and gawk at all of the products on our way. Zingerman’s candy bars, potato salad, salt and vinegar chips, brinery products and more lined the aisles.

We finally got to the register, our food was quickly passed over to us, and we paid and exited. I will say that in comparison to West Michigan, these sandwiches were pricey. For two of us to have nosher (smaller) sandwiches and a bag of chips, it cost around $35. What we know now is that these sandwiches are shareable, so order accordingly. – Lyndsay Israel

The Awesome Mitten-Southerner Meets Michigan: Discovering Zingerman's
Zingerman’s Deli | photo via Jennifer Bowman

Zingerman’s Bakehouse

3711 Plaza Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Zingerman’s Bakehouse was one of the first businesses to emerge from the Zingerman’s incubator initiatives. In fact, the entire company was born out of the fact that founder Paul Saginaw wanted to bake the breads fresh at the deli, and he needed a baker to provide him with insight and guidance. That’s when Frank Carollo and Amy Emberling entered the picture, and the rest is history.

Now, Zingerman’s Bakehouse is more than just a bakery that specializes in fresh sandwich breads. It’s a retail and wholesale bakery that sells products to locally-owned businesses around the state and across the country.

In addition, it is a baking school for those who want to learn the art of creating confections with fresh ingredients. Whether you are in search of fresh and flavorful cakes, cookies, bread, or pastries, Zingerman’s Bakehouse offers exactly what you need for any type of occasion. 

Okay, I know I told you that the first places I visited were welcoming, but the Zingerman’s Bakehouse took that hospitality to a whole new level. After setting us up with some parmesan peppercorn and cranberry walnut bread samples, the staff treated us to a private tour of behind-the-scenes, bread-making magic.

I learned that thousands of loaves are hand-made each day, everything is packaged and labeled in-house, and anything that needs to be shipped (this goes for all other Zingerman’s establishments) is sent across town to the mail-order building.

The bakehouse also specializes in everything from cookies to wedding cakes and is home to the Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory. – Jennifer Bowman

The Awesome Mitten-Southerner Meets Michigan: Discovering Zingerman's
Zingerman’s Bake Shop | photo via Jennifer Bowman

Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory

3723 Plaza Dr #5, Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Like so many of the businesses within the Zingerman’s collection, the Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory came to be because of an entrepreneur who worked at Zingerman’s and who wanted to pursue their own opportunity within the collection.

Owner Charlie Frank began his career at the Zingerman’s Bakehouse, and while he loved working there, he knew that one day he wanted to own his own Zingerman’s business. About a year into his tenure at the bakehouse, Charlie Frank came up with an idea — he wanted to make his own, fresh candy bars. It took seven years of trial, error, and planning, but in 2009, he established the Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory.

To this day, Charlier Frank continues to be the head Candy Maker at the manufactory — making him essentially the Candy Man of Ann Arbor. In order to focus on excellence and perfect what they sell, the manufactory focuses on several exclusive bars.

At this time, the five candy bars available are the Zzang, Ca$hew Cow, Peanut Butter Crush, Wowza, and What the Fudge? The candy bars can be purchased at the Zingerman’s Coffee Company (which is located next door to the manufactory itself) as well as at retailers throughout Michigan.

Zingerman's Candy Manufactory - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory | photo via Zingerman’s Candy

Zingerman’s Creamery

3723 Plaza Dr #2, Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Zingerman’s Creamery is known for being the 5th business in the Zingerman’s collection, and it got its start on a farm in Manchester.

The first product that the creamer focused on was the Real Cream Cheese, which quickly became famous for having a distinct taste and texture that was different than any other cream cheese on the market. Of course, Real Cream Cheese was first served at the Zingerman’s Delicatessen in downtown Ann Arbor. 

While Real Cream Cheese was the first product that the creamery produced, it was never going to be the only product. In fact, in 2001, the same year that the Zingerman’s Creamery opened, founder John Loomis took a trip to Italy to learn more about what it takes to create gelato and sorbet. 

Now, the Creamery focuses on creating milk-based products, relying on its partnership with the local Calder’s Dairy for cow’s milk. With each product, the flavor of the fresh milk is preserved and highlighted, giving patrons the best possible experience.

To purchase products from the creamery, head to the Cream Top Shop on the south side of Ann Arbor to purchase cheese, gelato, and more.

The creamery, while small, was packed with a wide selection of cheese, beer, and gelato. The people behind the counter were, again, very accommodating and enthusiastically answered every question I had–even when the tidal wave of customers suddenly showed up (don’t worry, they were helped, too).

While chatting up the man and woman behind the counter, I learned that the creamery is preparing to relocate across the street for access to new and improved machinery. Tempted to stay for some gelato, I realized I still had my vanilla latte to finish and was saving room for dinner. So, it was time to move on. – Jennifer Bowman

The Awesome Mitten-Southerner Meets Michigan: Discovering Zingerman's
Zingerman’s Deli | photo via Jennifer Bowman

Zingerman’s Roadhouse

2501 Jackson Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

When it opened in 2003, Zingerman’s Roadhouse became the 7th restaurant in the Zingerman’s collection of businesses. Today, it is one of its most popular locations, welcoming people from Ann Arbor and the surrounding region to a lively restaurant with unique and authentic flavors. 

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Zingerman’s Roadhouse is the kind of place where you can satisfy your cravings and nourish your soul, no matter what time of day it is. Every menu features American dishes, all designed to represent the flavors from different regions and cultures across the entire United States.

With an emphasis on great BBQ food, some of the most famous dishes at Zingerman’s Roadhouse include the award-winning Mac ‘n Cheese, the Cornmeal Fried Catfish, and the Buttermilk Fried Chicken. But truly, you can’t go wrong when making a selection from their menu. Everything is packed full of flavor and prepared to perfection.

Dinner on the Roadhouse patio was relaxing and fun. There are lots of options for food and drink and it was cool to know that the goat cheese bruschetta we were eating was from right up the road and so was the zucchini in my calabacitas!

And the bread? Oh, the bread. We used almost all of the butter (that Zingerman’s churns) on their warm brown bread served when we sat down. That came back to bite us when we had zero room for dessert, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything! – Lyndsay Israel

Zingerman's Roadhouse - #Mittentrip - Ann Arbor - The Awesome Mitten
Zingerman’s Roadhouse | photo via Lyndsay Israel

Zingerman’s Coffee Company 

3723 Plaza Dr, Suite 5, Ann Arbor, MI 48108

On the surface, Zingerman’s Coffee Company probably sounds like it is yet another hip coffee shop in Ann Arbor. However, this business within the Zingerman collection is more than just a cool place to grab a steaming cup of coffee and read your favorite novel. Zingerman’s Coffee Company is primarily a wholesale roaster that provides local cafés and businesses with fresh and flavorful coffee beans. 

Zingerman’s Coffee Company partners with local growers in Brazil, Costa Rica, and Papua New Guinea in order to ethically source their coffee beans. The valuable partnerships that they have formed with these growers has had a positive impact not only in Ann Arbor but also around the world. 

Of course, customers who really want a fresh cup straight from the source are able to visit the Coffee Bar, where there is always single estate, small-batch coffees ready to pour. 

As soon as I walked in the door to the Coffee Company, a barista noticed the camera hanging around my neck and greeted me with, “All pictures taken must be shared on Instagram and tagged on Facebook.”

Making a quick friend, I asked what was good and was pleased to hear suggestions for his specialties–a s’mores latte and a latte with house-made vanilla syrup. Getting one of each, my husband and I took a seat and admired the bright, ethnic-inspired cafe as we sampled and enjoyed two delicious espressos. – Jennifer Bowman

The Awesome Mitten-Southerner Meets Michigan: Discovering Zingerman's
Zingerman’s Coffee Company | photo via Jennifer Bowman

Miss Kim

415 N 5th Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

The most recent addition to the Zingerman’s Collection of Businesses is Miss Kim, a Korean restaurant run by a chef who grew up in Seoul, South Korea, and has incorporated the rich traditions of her home country into each dish that she serves.

In addition, the chef focuses on using freshly-grown Michigan produce in as many dishes as possible, blending two cultures into one spectacular meal that is packed full of flavor. 

Miss Kim - Ann Arbor, Michigan - Zingerman's
Miss Kim | photo via Miss Kim

Make Zingerman’s Part of Your Ann Arbor Experience

Going to Zingerman’s is a quintessential Ann Arbor experience. Whether you choose to grab a sandwich at the original Zingerman’s Deli or you prefer to fuel up with a freshly-roasted cup of coffee at Zingerman’s Coffee Company, you won’t be disappointed in your choice.

No matter what, make sure that there is time to stop at least one — or more — of the Zingerman’s Ann Arbor businesses during your visit. 

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3 Comments

  1. We were just in Ann Arbor. I had matzoh ball soup at Z’s.. It was thin wimpy and had no vegetable stock. Everything’s else was perfect. My first time in AA . What a great college town.

  2. Nice article(s) about Zingermans. You may be interested that the original name was not intended to be Zingerman’s. I forgot what it was, but I do know from the owners that they had a different name intended with signs already made when they received a letter from a deli in another state claiming they had the rights for the intended name and would sue them if they opened with that name. The owners had a powwow to decide what to do. They decided despite the extra expense to avoid creating a legal problem and they would change their name. They sat around throwing names out. Someone came up with Zingerman’s, for no apparent reason, they liked it, and the rest is history.

    1. Thanks for sharing that interesting piece of history with us, Marty! We’ll have to go digging to see if we can find the original name they’d chosen. 🙂

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