By SHERRI KOLADE
DEARBORN — Cheli’s Chili Bar closed Feb. 20, after a 10-year run at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Oakwood Boulevard in west Dearborn.
The closing of the restaurant, 21918 Michigan Ave., was announced Feb. 18 in a Facebook post.
Establishment managers did not return multiple phone calls and emails seeking comment by press time.
According to published reports, Najib Rizk, who owns Le Cigar Dearborn, 22263 Michigan Ave., bought the property in a sale that scheduled to be completed Feb. 20. Rizk plans to reopen the building as a restaurant and bar under a new name.
Rizk did not return calls or emails by press time.
Former Detroit Red Wings Defenseman Chris Chelios owned the restaurant and a second location in downtown Detroit which opened in 2005.
Another Cheli’s Chili Bar in Clinton Township is operated by the Andiamo Restaurant Group under a licensing agreement with Chelios.
The Dearborn restaurant served pizza, nachos, fried sampler platter dishes and an assortment of chilis and soups.
Dearborn Heights resident Cary Thompson, who ate at the restaurant with his family on Feb. 19, loved the chili and the brick-oven pizza.
“My family and I have been going there for the last six years,” Thompson said. “We like to sit upstairs in the summer. My daughter and I liked to play their trivia games on Tuesday nights, also in the summer.”
Thompson said the restaurant had a nice ambience.
“It was a great family friendly restaurant that we will miss,” he said. “The wait staff is the best, and they always greeted us by name. We will miss them the most.”
On the Cheli’s Chili Bar Dearborn Facebook page, a posted stated that the restaurant staff is saddened about Cheli’s closing.
“Thank you for 10 great years!” the post said. “Our awesome customers have made our job very easy.”
According to published reports, some of the restaurant’s roughly 30 employees may work at Cheli’s Detroit location.
Dearborn residents Patrick and Priscilla Sureler ate a meal at the restaurant Feb. 20.
Priscilla Sureler said she visited Cheli’s often because of how open and airy it was. On the restaurant’s last day, she visited for another reason.
“I came on the last day to show support,” she said. “It is a nice restaurant.”
Patrick Sureler said he and his wife frequented the restaurant for a
number of years to support local businesses.
“We love Dearborn and we like to support Dearborn people and where they work,” he said.
He said the restaurant closing “has been a bit of sadness.”
“It is a change for Dearborn,” Patrick Sureler said.
Priscilla Sureler agreed.
“There are other restaurants,” she said, “but (this) is different.”
Aside from being known for its food and fun, the restaurant boasted sports memorabilia framed on its walls, in shelves, in glass cases and in many other locations. A large American flag hung near the center of the room, surrounded by the restaurant’s nearly 30 televisions suspended in the air for customers to watch sports.
The restaurant’s red stairs, visible on the street corner, opened up the establishment’s rooftop deck to customers who could see down Michigan Avenue if they looked far enough.
(Sherri Kolade can be reached at [email protected].)