There is an issue facing the city of Wayne at the moment. Our beloved downtown area (such as it is) is possibly in for a big shock soon. There is talk that the dream of a walk-able Wayne may be shattered with the arrival of a fast food restaurant.
In the heart of downtown Wayne at the corner of Wayne Rd. & W. Michigan Ave. is a family restaurant called Rex’s House of Pancakes, this restaurant has had many names and many owners over the years. It was made famous/infamous in the early to mid eighties when a car crashed through its front window.
Now Rex’s isn’t doing the greatest financially supposedly. Which is understandable, with the price of food skyrocketing and incomes bottoming out leaving little room for extra expenses. The problem is that the owner was approached by a corporate fast food joint. They want to buy his property, tear down the current building and replace it with a gleaming new get in get out type building.
Our city has been attempting to revert back to a Main-street style appearance. The Wayne Ripple Effect has been working hard to make our city a beautiful and walk-able community. They and the city council had a goal in mind for our downtown area, they cited cities like Ferndale, Royal Oak, Mount Clements and Northville as the “models” for how they wanted to present themselves. Most of which DO NOT have drive thru style eateries in their downtown area. Instead they have smaller independently owned places to shop and get food at. As a small town’s downtown area should have.
Most of the store fronts in Wayne are vacant and are badly in need of some TLC, but the owners aren’t forced to maintain their properties beyond the landscaping. Funnily enough too, it’s rumored that the owner of the majority of these vacant buildings is our very own Mayor Al Haidous. Now I wonder who we could get to enforce such a mandate, as it is they want speed up the process of relinquishment of rights on abandon properties in Wayne….AND they all seem to be concerned about the appearances of these absent owner rental properties. So they DO care about how the city looks. They have proved this time and time again.
I spoke up at the recent city council meeting, though it seemed like I was an unwanted commentator by at least one person based solely on the shirt I was wearing. She eyed me up and down, read my shirt (which stated “My Goal In Life Is To Have Psychiatric Disorder Named After Me) and then rather pointedly asked…. “You aren’t planning on saying anything are you?” Yes ma’am I was and your concern for that made me want to speak up even more.
I told them that I grew up here, which is true as I spent a great bulk of my time at my grandparents house when I was a child. During that time a sense of community and whats best for this city was pushed by all of the elders. In fact the man who pushed this sense of community and small town lifestyle was our very own Mayor Al. He owned and operated a small convenience store called Al’s Friendly Market which my grandfather visited almost every day. My grandfather and Al would talk about many things, but one thing was always a passionate discussion…This town. How it looked, how it moved and how it was going to grow. In fact, the whole reason Al ran for Mayor was because my grandfather pushed him to. Al stood for the American dream 100% and at the time knew what was best for the city. Maybe my grandfather was wrong.
Rex’s is a place where families can get a decent meal at a reasonable price, it is also a place close enough to the senior centers that the elderly folks can get together and have a cheap bite to eat. It is also the only place other than the community center (hmmmm) that has a banquet center. Which we all know who’d benefit from that.
Some seem to think that the Mayor and city council have the power to block this from happening, but realistically they don’t since it seems like the zoning ordinances haven’t been updated since before the council and Ripple Effect laid down the new decree for planning. If the city were to step in and place zoning changes that would restrict a fast food joint, the corporate monster with huge feet and pale skin would slap this city with a lawsuit. Now as individuals, they can implore the owner to stay. They can speak as citizens and not as leaders as to how much a move like this will hurt our town. The problem is that they won’t, especially Mayor Haidous won’t. I have tried to get across to him in multiple conversations, stand with the crowd of tax payers and not the band of bullies behind the bench. That the political preening and posturing is very unbecoming and we need to strip away the bs from our political climate (city) and tell it like it is. Call out members of the council for their ignorance and misdoings. You are but one man yes, but your voice will carry above the distractions of Pie Baking Seniors and the keystone cop routine usually present at meetings. He knows, he knows how wrong this is. The council members are supporting this because they see a quick fix and are jumping on it rather than taking the time to find the smart fix.
I would also like to point out that by bringing in a place like McD’s or BK or Wedny’s you’ll effectively kill off the other independent restaurants like Baba’s and My Place. They won’t be able to compete with the hormone laden, modified food that comes in at a discount due to its lack of actual foodstuffs content. Not to mention that there are already a flanking of drive thru joints on either side of the downtown area. As you go down E Michigan Ave, you’ll hit an Arby’s, Tim Hortons, Wendy’s and a White Castle/Churches. Then If you loop back at Merriman and down W. Michigan Ave you’ll hit Taco Bell, Burger King not to mention a Mc D’s at Merriman and Michigan ave (though it’s on the Westland side). Also if you continue down W. Michigan Ave to 275 you’ll hit another Arby’s and a Wendy’s, plus on the loop around back to Eastbound you’ll find a McD’s,
So please tell me why Wayne needs a drive thru place in its downtown? When we have a myriad of options just up and down the street from our downtown area?
I don’t want to be the one to tell a business owner what he can and can’t do with his property, we know there is enough of that floating around Wayne already. Case in point a conversation I had with the Mayor about new businesses coming in. He said he is only interested in “clean family businesses” when asked what exactly he meant by that, he stated “I don’t want an adult bookstore opening in my city”. After this comment I pointed out that an adult bookstore would bring just as much traffic as a drive thru, he scoffed and kind of condescendingly said something along the lines of youth having the luxury of thinking that way.
I would like to point out to you that Royal Oak has an adult store in their downtown area and nobody has said boo. What you have in Wayne is a bunch of older people who are afraid of change, who can’t step outside their own generation to see the value in things considered risqué. Wayne will never, EVER be a destination city with this much dusty thinking on the council. Religion is also a big factor in their decisions since the majority of the council have faith of some sort, so they force a moral prerogative upon the populace via their strict regulations for new businesses. You have no idea the level of stupidity the city pushes onto incoming businesses. It’s insane, I have heard multiple people claim that if it wasn’t for their love of this city, they would have taken their business to a different community. There even those who choose to run their business out their home just to avoid the headache the city council causes. Yet the council claims to want new business and new opportunities for the city to grow.
Anyways, as I was saying. I don’t want to tell Rex what to do with his property or business, but I would like to encourage him to stick it out and also urge the city to rally behind him and help him keep the lights on. Frequent the business, tell the wait staff and Rex how much you love them and enjoy having them in Wayne. Take your family, friends or business associates in for a meal. If you have a ceremony coming up, rent out their banquet room. Together we the citizens can help keep fast food out and a hometown vibe in.