300 S. Ashley, Ann Arbor, Mi
Formerly the Dag-Wood. This is a fan page and is not officially connected to the Fleetwood. The official Fleetwood web site is at thefleetwooddiner.com. Please read my license notice before copying my photos.
Ann Arbor Sun, February 22, 1974
Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
There are new countertops now. Over the winter the outdoor patio was partially enclosed and heated.
We lost one of the regulars. Larry used to come in around 7am and sit at the table by the stairs. His order was scrambled, bacon, hash browns, white toast. After he retired from Ford he started coming in later and cut out the hash browns. He always brightened my day, and he will be missed by his many friends and all who knew him.
The building housing the Fleetwood, which has been owned by Al Nalli for decades, has been sold to a "Metro Detroit ophthalmologist."
The Fleetwood got a new roof-top neon sign to replace the backlit sign that had been there since the Dag-Wood days.
Bill Close, who co-owned the Fleetwood with Chris Andrews in the late 1980s, died on August 17.
All Michigan restaurants are now officially non-smoking. You can't even smoke outside on the patio. I actually feel a bit sorry for the smokers, but it sure makes the meal more enjoyable.
Happy 60th Dag-Wood/Fleetwood! No big party but lots of people stopped in to wish the Fleetwood a happy birthday. March/April 1949 was a busy time, with the Fleetwood, Swede's Diner, and the Flame all having grand openings.
The Fleetwood turns 59 this month. I'm thinking about getting Andy to throw a big party next year for the 60th.
The Fleetwood is on myspace now.
The new No Smoking policy only lasted a few hours on January 1 before being rescinded.
The Fleetwood has a new credit card machine. It has so far not been popular with the staff.
On Jan 1 2008 the Fleetwood will be going non-smoking 7am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 7am – 10pm on the weekend. This has been controversial among both staff and customers and the subject of much debate at the counter.
No news is good news. The Fleetwood has not been torn down for a parking garage. The Fleetwood has not gone out of business. It's still there, serving up food and coffee 24 hours a day. There are now branches in Lansing and Kentwood (Grand Rapids).
Megan Broat is trying to start a zine/anthology, "Greasy Spoon Anthology: Tales of the Fleetwood Diner" and is looking for contributions. More info at www.myspace.com/greasyspoonanthology.
I've also heard rumors of a possible documentary project.
The branch Fleetwood at Michigan Ave & Carpenter Rd has closed, but there is now another branch at 2211 S. Cedar St in Lansing.
Co-owner George Fotiadis and a partner have opened a second Fleetwood at the corner of Michigan Ave & Carpenter Rd.
My favorite new feature is the rogue's gallery of Polaroid snapshots of people who have been banned from the Fleetwood.
Another of the waitresses got married this month, at Dominick's. It was the fifth Fleetwood wedding I've been to.
The fifth annual Shopping Cart Race was held the night of the 20th.
The awning has been replaced but looks just like the old awning.
The fourth annual Shopping Cart Race was held the night of the 21st. The big innovation this year is the addition of bicycle wheels to several carts, allowing them to achieve very high speeds compared to previous years.
The third annual Shopping Cart Race was held the night of the 23d. More entries than last year, and many more spectators.
The front door has finally been replaced. The new one is just right. No menu changes recently but several waitresses have left. Hippie Hash, invented at the Fleetwood, is now being served in several other area restaurants.
The second annual Shopping Cart Race was held the night of the 17th.
The counter stools have been re-anchored. Two of them had been completely adrift, and a third was foundering. The front door has also been rebuilt.
The "milkshake" machine and waffle iron seem to both be permanently out of service. Main Street News has gone out of business and the newspaper coin boxes in front of the Fleetwood have been removed, so it now takes some planning to get a paper to read over coffee.
The first annual Shopping Cart Race was held the night of the 1st.
The Fleetwood closed for several days following a severe thunderstorm and power outage on July 21.
Last month the Fleetwood got all new outside tables and chairs. This month it got a "milkshake" machine.
The Fleetwood closed after a fire during Art Fair 1997 (third week of July) and re-opened on August 18. While the restaurant was closed the owners installed a new hood and extinguisher, new black & white tile floor, and new metal wall strips. They also re-anchored and re-covered the counter stools and made several other improvements. They raised prices for the first time in many years, and added some items to the menu, including waffles and chocolate milk.
The owners have recently started covering the outside of the building in stainless steel panels. The original enamel is still there under a coat of paint.
The Fleetwood was built from a kit by Donald Reid and originally named the Dag-Wood. Before 1948 the City building code required masonry for all new restaurant construction. On July 6 of that year Reid petitioned the city for a change in the building code, and on August 2 the City Council passed an amendment that appeared to be custom written for the Dag-Wood. It allowed metal construction for new buildings of 1000 square feet or less and no more than a single story, but only for restaurants and stores. (A similar amendment had been passed earlier for all-metal Lustron homes.)
Construction was started in the fall of 1948 and was complicated by the closing of the Dag-Wood Diner Company before the diner was finished. Costs totaled $14,000, and the diner opened on March 17, 1949 as the Dag-Wood Diner. Two months later Reid placed tables on the sidewalk and opened Ann Arbor's first sidewalk cafe.
Reid sold the diner to Robert Brown in 1966 and died in 1978. Mark Hodesh bought the Dag-Wood in 1971 and renamed it the Fleetwood. At that time the diner had been used for a variety of non-diner purposes, including as a prep kitchen for vending machine sandwiches. Hodesh later returned to Ann Arbor and now owns Downtown Home & Garden, across the street. Former cooks bought the diner in bankruptcy court for $46,000 in 1984 after former owner Kaye Dumsick was unable to pay the bills. The Fleetwood has been owned by George Fotiadis and Adi Demiri since 1992. It is always open, except for occasional holidays.
The Fleetwood was manufactured by the Dag-Wood Diner Company of Toledo, Ohio in 1948. Unlike most classic diners, it was shipped as a kit, not as a complete ready-to-cook unit.
There is another Dag-Wood diner located in Erie, Michigan, but has been remodeled beyond recognition. The original Dag-Wood near the corner of Monroe and Secor in Toledo closed in 1963. There may have been as many as a half dozen Dag-Woods. There is more about Dag-Wood at the Lake Erie Region Dining Car Companies page.
There is a passing mention in the Ann Arbor Sun, September 20, 1974 of a show about the Fleetwood being aired on public access TV. It would be great to find a copy, but the chances are slim after all these years.
Please send me any additions or corrections to this list.
1949-1966 Donald Reid
1966-? Robert Brown
(a series of owners and non-diner uses)
1971-1980 (?) Mark Hodesh and/or Rich Alford
1980-1983 Kaye Dumsick
1984-1989 Chris Andrews and Bill Close
1989-1991 Kay Ferrell
1992-present George Fotiadis and Adi Demiri
The Coffee Kids sit at the tables drinking coffee for hours. Here is a small sample of the cartoons they draw.
Art extends the language when words are no longer appropriate.
I have no official connection to the Fleetwood other than as a satisfied customer.
The Fleetwood had Ann Arbor's first restaurant web site, in 1995.
This web page was chosen "Favorite food or restaurant web site" by readers of the Ann Arbor Observer, November 1996.