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Jerusalem Gardens looks to expand footprint and staff

Though expansion plans for downtown Ann Arbor's Jerusalem Garden are preliminary, owner Ali Ramlawi says the popular restaurant is overdue for growth. 
 
"We've always been short of space. For years, customers have said, 'you need to expand,'" Ramlawi says. "There have been several weekends when we've turned away as many customers as we've serviced."
 
The plans include an addition, a basement and rooftop seating that would add up to an additional 1,600 to 1,800 square feet of space, doubling the small restaurant's size and adding 40 to 50 additional seats. Though the plan could change as it moves through various stages of approval, Ramlawi hopes to have final word in 60 to 90 days. 
 
"This is our wish list," he says. 
 
Along with the historic building's physical expansion, Jerusalem Garden would increase its staff. Ramlawi says he would hire additional workers immediately if he had the room, but plans to add 15 new employees to his 25-person staff with the addition. Should the plans be approved, Ramlawi expects construction to take between 12 and 18 months.
 
Jerusalm Garden opened in 1987 as a 300 square-foot, take-out only restaurant. While the restaurant has evolved with the times, Ramlawi says it is a unique piece of Ann Arbor's history in an ever-changing downtown market. 

Source: Ali Ramlawi, Jerusalem Garden
Writer: Natalie Burg
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