Fate of fabled former Detroit Chinese restaurant uncertain

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Stanley’s Other Place was a Chinese restaurant on Eight Mile Road just west of Woodward that closed in 2014 after more than three decades in business.

For years, the place, with its Chinese-font signage, had a faded charisma and forlorn air about it, like a one-time crowd favorite that had seen better days. Though it was mere blocks from my home, I never considered going there. By the lack of cars in its parking lot, I often wondered how it managed to stay open.

The building, at 2411 W. 8 Mile Road, is under new ownership now, but its fate is uncertain. The city just nixed a rezoning request that would have opened the door to businesses including pawn shops, new and used car sales, fast food and liquor stores — in other words, typical 8 Mile fare in an area that is seeing major redevelopment.

Unhappy neighbors

Records obtained from city hall show that developer Stuart Carter purchased the 9,352 square-foot property in February for $128,000 from Stanley Hong and Co. Inc. Hong had operated the restaurant since at least 1980 as a second location to his iconic Stanley’s Mannia Cafe location in the New Center, which reportedly closed in the 1990s. (Here’s a thread from 2014 about Stanley’s Other Place’s closure).

The entrance of the old Stanley's Other Place.
The entrance of the old Stanley’s Other Place.

Carter, doing business as Material Asset Management, which has a Royal Oak address, had proposed redeveloping the building and subdividing it into five or six retail spaces totaling 1,470 to 2,243 square feet. He had asked the city to rezone the property from medium-density residential to general business.

I attempted to reach Mr. Carter at two phone numbers listed in city documents.

Residents in nearby Greenacres, an stable, leafy neighborhood of handsome brick homes that surrounds the former restaurant, complained that Carter’s proposal could increase traffic on neighborhood streets, would change the character of the neighborhood and drive down property values. Carter had met with members of the Greenacres-Woodward Civic Association in August and told residents he wasn’t sure what kind of tenants would occupy the spaces.

Many residents spoke out against the proposed rezoning at a public hearing in September.

“In my opinion the zoning change will be denied. The developer obviously doesn’t have clue (sic) as to what he wants to do with the property and it showed. However, I don’t think he expected to see the opposition turnout that he faced last night,” resident Brian McGlaun wrote Sept. 23 on NextDoor.

Planning commission this month did indeed deny the rezoning request. What happens now isn’t clear.

Remain a restaurant?

Although there is no indication he was considering it, Carter could opt to redevelop the property as a new restaurant. In 1980, the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals issued a grant allowing Hong to operate the former supper club as a restaurant with a liquor license.

“That land use has not expired, so that is an option available to Mr. Carter,” said George Etheridge, planning specialist with the city of Detroit.

The location is well-served by stable neighborhoods in both Detroit and Ferndale, with an Applebee’s recently opened at the Gateway Marketplace a couple blocks east and the Michigan State Fairgrounds looking set to be redeveloped with plenty of restaurants and entertainment options. Plus, the old abandoned WWJ radio transmitter facility further west on 8 Mile is also planned for redevelopment by one of the area’s premier restaurant groups.

So why not a restaurant, Mr. Carter?

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