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Weber’s Celebrates 75 Years, Three Generations of FamilyOwned Excellence


Weber’s Restaurant Still Serves Up Ann Arbor’s Best Fare


Weber’s Famous Crab Cake Recipe by Executive Chef Tye Elder


Play Us a Melody... Weber’s Piano Man Tim Knapp


Exceptional Event Accommodations


Hospitality is King at Weber’s


A Dedication to Sonja Weber



Years of Hospitality 75 Years of Hospitality | Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel


Herman Weber, founder of Weber’s Restaurant and Hotel

Weber’s Celebrates 75 Years, Three Generations of Family-O Owned Excellence hen Herman Weber decided to go into the restaurant business, the year was 1937. Ann Arbor was a small, quiet and moderately prosperous town that depended mostly on the University of Michigan for its economic well-being, and Washtenaw Avenue from Platt Road east to Hogback was a low-traffic, residential roadway. It was here, at an Abbott Gasoline Company station located on Washtenaw Avenue at Platt Road, that Herman Weber began a business that 75 years later would stand as an institution in fine dining and hotel accommodations in Ann Arbor. It would represent his legacy, which now spans three generations of family-owned excellence. It was here that Weber’s Restaurant and Boutique Hotel was born.


Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel |

This is the first building to display the name Weber’s. It opened on US-12 (modern-day Jackson Road), just west of Wagner Rd. in the winter of 1939-1940. That same building in the ‘50s was expanded and a seven-room motel called Weber’s Holiday House Motel Court was added.

Weber turned 23 in May of 1937 and celebrated by erecting a sign over the station announcing it as the “Hi-Speed Inn,” which consisted of a grill, a few tables and chairs and a juke box to help pay the rent. The first menu was simple and hand lettered, offering hamburgers for 15 cents and 12 ounces of beer for 10 cents. Breakfast items were soon added. “We opened for breakfast at 7 a.m.,” Weber recalled, “and we closed at 2 a.m. the next morning. We called that 19-hour period the ‘long shift.’ We also had what we called the ‘short shift’−from noon to closing, only 14 hours.” Herman’s older brother Rheinhold was his business partner, and the two of them alternated these long and short shifts every other day. As business picked up, the pair added their first employee, Ted, to work six days per week. The three of them did everything that needed to be done−cooking, serving, cleaning, accounting and yes, pumping gas. As part of their rental agreement with Abbott, they still had to attend to the gas pumps when needed.

By 1938 business was booming. The quality of the food and the attentive service at the Hi-Speed Inn attracted repeat customers in droves. It also became the major dispenser of Lowenbrau beer in Southeast Michigan. However, the Inn’s popularity eventually put it at odds with the neighbors, who didn’t appreciate the vast increase in traffic throughout the day and night. Consequently, when their beer license came up for renewal, the township officials turned it down and the Webers were forced to find a new location. The brothers then rented a tavern that had long been closed but which afforded an excellent location on US-12, the main road from Detroit to Chicago (which then ran through Ann Arbor). After renovating the space and purchasing new kitchen equipment, business was flourishing again. But before they could finish even one year here, the owner sold the building, and the new owner had his own plans for the space. Once again, the Webers were in need of a venue to continue their business. Convinced that a location along US-12 was important, the brothers negotiated the purchase of a parcel of land along US-12 (what is today Jackson Road) just west of the Wagner Road intersection. The first building to carry the name “Weber’s” was 32 feet wide, 40 feet long and made of cinder blocks. It opened in the winter of 1939-1940. In March of 1940, however, Rheinhold was drafted into World War II. Business was hard during the war years. In addition to Rheinhold’s departure, food shortages and increased competition for workers took a toll on Weber’s. “We stayed open only five nights a week because that’s how long the food and the help would last,” Weber recalled. “Some days our gross receipts were only $15.” But business started to pick up as the years passed. Rheinhold had married during the war, and afterward he and his new bride decided to move out West. In 1947 Rheinhold sold his half of the business to Herman, making him the sole owner of Weber’s. (Continued on page 6.)

75 Years of Hospitality | Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel


Above: Herman Weber with Walter Metzger and Erwin Koch, standing behind Metzger’s restaurant in the alley at 4th Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor, 1936. The Allenel Hotel is in the background.

Weber’s Restaurant opened its doors at its new (and current) location in 1962. And while the Webers still operated the Holiday House, the era of interstate travel was at hand and a new future for the hotel industry beckoned. Herman and Sonja decided to build a hotel at their new site−one that would be significantly different in features and amenities than the chain properties that had begun to spring up around the country. Built in 1969, the new Weber’s Inn was designed by James Livingston (the same man who had executed the restaurant so successfully just seven years earlier). By the early 1960s all successful motels had swimming pools, but the new Weber’s Inn went a giant step beyond this. The Webers enclosed their pool within an integrated recreation area that could be accessed via private staircases from poolside rooms. Its design was state of the art then, and continues to hold up against today’s industry standards.

Above: Clippings announce the new Weber’s restaurant in ‘62 and its hotel in ‘69.

The 1950s saw Weber’s Restaurant thriving and expanding. Its seating capacity doubled by the mid-1950s, and doubled again upon the expansion of the building. A simple, sevenroom motel was also added, which was called Weber’s Holiday House Motel Court. Meanwhile, Herman had met and married Sonja, who later gave birth to their two children, Ken and Linda. Sonja also became an important managing partner in the business, sharing in all managerial decisions. With superb dedication, she worked long shifts in the dining room, guided the menu selections, supervised the staff and selected the restaurant’s furnishings and decor. (See the special dedication from Herman to Sonja on page 18). In the late 1950s, the interstate highway system had reached Ann Arbor and as a result, the leg of Jackson Road where Weber’s was located was to be bypassed completely by inter-city traffic. As painful as it was for them, Herman and Sonja eventually had to abandon the restaurant. They then made a major investment on a new, seven-acre site along Jackson Road at the new I-94 near Exit 172. This new site was just inside Ann Arbor’s city limits, which also allowed the Webers to acquire a license to serve liquor by the glass.


Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel |

Above: Weber’s Restaurant opened its doors at its current location in 1962. The hotel was added in 1969.

The Weber’s philosophy has always been to stay at the forefront of the industry by continually updating its amenities, technology and design. In 1986 the South Wing with 35 new rooms and seven luxury suites was added, bringing the hotel’s total to 158 rooms. And as the electronic age of computerized information technology was ushered in, Weber’s was again at the cutting edge. “We were one of the first early adopters of the MICROS point-of-sale system,” says Ken Weber, who has served as the company’s president since 1978 and heads up all operations at Weber’s. “It helped us to develop more streamlined customer service and accounting controls, and we continue to use their top-of-the-line systems today.” Under Ken Weber’s direction, the property has undergone frequent renovations to maintain its fresh, yet timeless aesthetic. “It’s less intrusive to our customers to do smaller updates one or two sections at a time on a revolving five-to-seven-year basis,” he says. That’s not always possible, however. In 2008 a major, $4 million renovation project was launched at Weber’s. Improvements were made to the Atrium and Four Seasons pool area, and a $500,000 makeover of their 4,500-square-foot ballroom was performed, giving it a more current and spacious feel with stylish carpeting, grandiose chandeliers and a lighter color palate. The lobby and lounge areas were also updated with new carpet, programmable LED lighting and modern furnishings and appointments. But most notably, the hotel and restaurant façade has been completely transformed, now featuring colorful, imported Spanish wood veneer siding combined with the elegant use of glass and steel, creating a dramatic visual impact with clean lines and contemporary appeal. The project was completed in October 2011. (Continued on page 8.)

Above: Weber’s underwent a major $4 million renovation, which was completed in October 2011. In addition to a stunning new façade for the restaurant and hotel, updates were made to the property’s entryway, lobby, lounges, ballrooms and pool area.

75 Years of Hospitality | Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel


At Left: Various past versions of Weber’s menu. Above: The warm and inviting dining room at Weber’s Restaurant. At Right: Weber’s President Ken Weber (center) is flanked by his son, VP of Food & Beverage Michael Weber (left) and General Manager John G. Staples (right).


Freshly modernized and ready for the future, Weber’s remains a landmark in Ann Arbor. Moreover, it represents a legacy that began with the dream, desire and undeniable determination of Herman Weber, and is now carried forward by his son Ken Weber. Meanwhile, a third generation has now entered the family business. Ken’s son Michael Weber, who graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Hospitality Business Management, is now the company’s vice president of food and beverage. Michael has solid experience as a former manager at Lettuce Entertain You restaurants in Chicago and, working alongside his father and 30-year veteran General Manager John G. Staples, is well suited to contribute to the continued success of Weber’s.

Because we’re family owned, we have deep-rooted relationships within the community, and we rely on word of mouth.”

“Providing value is one key to our success,” Ken Weber says. “We’re upscale, but not stuffy or intimidating. We want people to be able to enjoy their experience at Weber’s regularly.

For more information about Weber’s Restaurant and Boutique Hotel, visit or call 734.769.2500. For dinner reservations, please call 734.665.3636.

Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel |

Weber’s enters its 75th year in business as one of this country’s very few hotel and restaurant properties that remains family owned and operated in an industry where giant corporate chains are the norm. Ken Weber is very proud of that fact. “Our family has always had a strong independent streak,” he explains. “We could have sold this property many times to one of the chains, but we have a stubborn desire to remain a local family-owned operation and to make it a success generation after generation.”

Weber’s Restaurant Still Serves Up Ann Arbor’s Best Fare After 75 years in business, how does a restaurant continue to draw in crowds and stay at the forefront of changing culinary trends and tastes? Simple: by being timeless.


Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel |

“A lot of people call it an institution in Ann Arbor, a place that people can trust and rely on,” says Weber's Restaurant and Boutique Hotel President Ken Weber. “We don't believe in 'trendy' here. We believe in being consistent and good.” Weber's has been operating for 75 years, 50 in its current location, and still continues to pack the house with hungry patrons. And it's not a small house to fill, either: they've got 500 seats and still manage to keep it full-no small task for even the trendiest of places. “We try to be comfortable, not too upscale,” says Ken. “Our goal is to be personable. We don't have the fanciest food, it's not the dressiest place, but those kinds of places you can't afford to go to every day.” They strive to offer highquality food made from scratch and simply prepared. You can get a $15 meal here or a $50 meal: guests feel equally as comfortable having Alaskan king crab legs in a business suit or a late-night burger in jeans. There are several different “rooms” in the restaurant, so much so that it can feel almost labyrinthine. There is the airy Bavarian-themed main restaurant with high ceilings flooded with natural light. There is the cozy, Euro-rustic “Le Bistro”

room, the most tucked-away space for setting a romantic mood. Next to Le Bistro is the Ventura Bar, which features Weber's award-winning cruvinet wine system−a 16-bottle specialized system that keeps wine as fresh as the day it was opened−which was recognized in Wine Spectator's 30th anniversary restaurant awards list in 2011. (Weber's continues to receive the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year with a well-rounded list of over 200 wines. They have received this honor every single year since 1985, one of The restaurant is attached to a 158-room boutique hotel, only three restaurants nationally that have retained such which opened in 1970 as an addition to the restaurant itself. consistency.) Ken is very specific in differentiating Weber's as a restaurant with a hotel, as opposed to a "hotel restaurant"−the first focus There is also the lovely Outdoor Terrace, blooming with is always on the food. The hotel was recently renovated for a annual flowers in the summer months. Adjacent to the much more modern look inside and out. While much of the Terrace is Habitat Ultralounge, the more casual bar area restaurant retains a quaint "Old World" feel, the hotel itself has that features live entertainment and dancing six nights a a sleek air of modern sophistication. week. “This has been a popular room since the ‘70s,” Ken says. “We've always catered to the more middle-aged Weber's serves upscale regional American cuisine for breakclientele; people come out when they want to dance even if fast, lunch, dinner and late-night. Executive Chef Tye Elder, they are 30, 40 or older.” who has worked at Weber's for seven years, has a strong One of the staples of Weber's live entertainment over the years is their dining room piano player Tim Knapp. He's been with them since the ‘80s and plays every night from 6 to 9 p.m. (except Mondays). Knapp is known for playing solo piano versions of songs from bands people wouldn't expect−think psychedelic rock and ‘80s new-wave like Depeche Mode, U2 and Pink Floyd.

seafood background after working for Main Street Ventures and Chuck Muer. Weber's is known for their high-end seafood and daily fresh fish features, which they source from Foley Fish of Boston. But they are best known for their signature prime rib. “The whole business was built on prime rib,” Ken says. “We are one of the biggest prime rib houses in the country. We sell more than anywhere else in the state.” (Continued on page 12.)

75 Years of Hospitality | Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel


They strive to keep everything economical and to offer something for everyone. “We do everything here from dollar breakfast meals to high-end wine dinners,” Elder says. “That's what we try to keep− to have a little bit of everything for everyone.” “Everything” includes classic American seafood and steakhouse favorites like escargot, Blue Point oysters and a hearty, aromatic baked French onion soup. Their creamy Maryland style crab cakes with a slightly sweet corn salsa and a mustard sauce with just a touch of heat is one of their most popular items. They of course have a huge selection of steaks and seafood entrees, but there is also a wide variety of salads, sandwiches and smaller plates from which to choose. There certainly are plenty of classic items on the menu inspired by the grand traditions of American steakhouses (themselves inspired by rich, heavy French cooking), but there is also some lighter, more au courant fare in keeping with current tastes (like a salt-and-pepper crusted Ahi tuna). “We want the menu to be an exciting mix of old and new,” explains Michael Weber, vice president of food and beverage. “We have more classic American entrees, and our chef has freedom to innovate and try more modern culinary-driven dishes as well. There is a good mix of staples that have lasted 75 years with newer food that is more


contemporary and exciting. Our general philosophy is high-quality ingredients with simple preparation.” They also make as much from scratch as possible, including their breads, soups, sauces, most dressings; they even cut all their own meat in-house. They also have a full bakery in-house where they make all their breads and desserts. Pastry Chef Marybeth King makes all the desserts (including specialty ice creams and sorbet) from scratch, and also makes a lot of custom cakes for weddings. Mike says, “When the restaurant first opened, chefs had no choice but to make everything from scratch and source from local farmers. We really want to get back to that; this is really what helped to make us great.” But what really makes Weber's unique is its long history. They have regular customers who have been dining there for 50 years; parents seeing their children celebrate marriage there or remembering when they had their first date. People from all over have a great nostalgia for the place, with decades of cherished memories. “When it's full you can really feel the soul of the restaurant," Mike says. "It has a great energy to it. Our guests have been constant for generations, and that's what has allowed us to have this longevity−we are a family restaurant that treats our guests with dignity.”

Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel |

Executive Chef Tye Elder shows off his specialty, Crab Cakes over rice pilaf and asparagus.

Chef’s Specialty Crab Cakes CRAB CAKES 1/2 lb 1/2 lb 4 ounces 1 each 5 tablespoons 1 tablespoons 2 teaspoons 1 teaspoons 1 teaspoons 1/4 teaspoons 1-1/2 ounces

Jumbo lump; Maryland-drained Special lump; Maryland-drained Bread crumbs; plain Egg; beaten Mayonnaise Parsley; finely chopped Worcestershire Prepared mustard; wet type, yellow Salt; Diamond crystal White pepper Mustard sauce

Remove shells from crabmeat being careful not to break-up the meat. Mix egg, mayo, parsley, Worcestershire, mustard, salt and white pepper together well. Add in bread crumbs. Pour mixture over crabmeat and fold in gently but thoroughly to be sure not to break up the crabmeat. Fold by using a spatula. Refrigerate 1 hour before making into crab cakes.

MUSTARD SAUCE 2 weight ounce 1 weight ounce 1 pinch 1 dash

Mayonnaise Poupon mustard Dry mustard Lemon juice; fresh

creamy. COOKING Form into 3-ounce crab cakes. Place on cookie sheet and bake in 350-degree oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Also can be broiled in oven. Finish with placing Crab Cakes on a plate and drizzling Mustard sauce.

Mix all ingredients together well, until smooth and

75 Years of Hospitality | Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel


Play Us a Melody... Few restaurants can match the quality dining experience that is afforded patrons of Weber’s. For decades its delicious fare, stellar service, elegant ambiance and marvelous wine selection have been attracting locals and visitors alike, solidifying it as an Ann Arbor institution that is also consistently rated among the top restaurants in the state. And while these things alone compare favorably to the competition, Weber’s has something, or someone rather, who gives it another distinct advantage over other fine dining establishments. Tim Knapp began working for Weber’s Hotel delivering room service to its hotel guests in the late 1980s, as he worked to complete his psychology degree at the University of Michigan. As owner Ken Weber recalls, one day Tim mentioned that he had another skill that he thought would add value to the hotel--he could play the piano. Ken was more than impressed when he heard him play and offered Tim a full-time job as the restaurant’s dining room pianist. Especially unique is Tim’s style, taking alternative rock songs mainly from the ‘80s and interpreting them in a classical piano style appropriate to the most elegant dinner setting. What sounds like it could be a rendition of Bach or Beethoven turns out to be Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’ or Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy the Silence.’ Weber’s is one of the only places that still has a live dining room pianist. “Yes, it’s costly,” says Weber. “But we feel it’s an important part of our tradition. Tim adds a unique and wonderful aspect to the dining atmosphere here at Weber’s.” Tim Knapp, Weber’s Dining Room Pianist


Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel |

Exceptional Event Accommodations Weber’s meeting, conference and banquet facilities are second to none. Exceptional planning, flexible layouts and adaptive lighting, a gracious and competent staff, world-class fare, high-performing Wi-Fi, and supportive hi-tech equipment makes the newly-transformed Weber's Boutique Hotel and Restaurant the obvious choice for all of your events. With a dozen meeting rooms of varying sizes, Weber’s has the ability to accommodate groups from as small as 10 to as large as 350. For decades, families have made Weber’s part of their holiday traditions, attending our special Easter Sunday Brunches and our Thanksgiving Day Dinners. “Thanksgiving is our busiest day of the year,” says owner Ken Weber. “We commonly get more than 3,000 visitors and serve up to 6,000 pounds of turkey.” Weber’s is also Ann Arbor’s most popular venue for wedding receptions. In fact, it was named the best wedding reception facility in Michigan by Michigan Meetings & Events Magazine. It’s no wonder that on any given Saturday evening in the spring and summer you might find as many as five wedding parties enjoying themselves with music, food and dancing. With the added convenience of the hotel’s comfortable sleeping rooms, guests can celebrate into the night without the need to drive home afterward. And our Resort Suite provides a perfect place for the newlyweds to rest their heads in luxurious style. From small trade shows, seminars, local business conferences and three-day conventions to holiday events, graduation parties, birthday celebrations and, of course, weddings... if you have an event to plan, Weber’s can make it a success!

75 Years of Hospitality | Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel


Hospitality is King at Weber’s What makes a hotel great? The factors that contribute to a hotel achieving this highest of standards are many. The professionalism with which the property is managed, exemplary guest services and an abundance of amenities are just the beginnings of what makes Weber’s Ann Arbor’s finest hotel. At Weber’s hospitality is king. And that means from the time a guest passes through its doors, that guest is made to feel relaxed and at ease. “Having all of the comforts of home is important,” says owner Ken Weber. “But equally as important is that we provide our guests with the hospitality that conveys Weber’s genuine personality.” Ken says that his staff members care about their guests, and they deliver personalized service that reflects this. “Our customers tend to come back again and again. They get to know the staff on a first-name basis, and vice versa. It’s one of the advantages of being a family-owned, boutique hotel. Our employees are career minded. We’ve offered a profit sharing plan since 1965 that encourages the employees to work together toward the best possible customer service. And that means that everybody benefits.” Ken is proud to employ 200 and realizes that the longevity of Weber’s is due to the staff’s effort to build relationships with guests and take pride in its work. He is always thankful for the constant desire of the staff to represent the company at the highest level.

poolside rooms via spiral staircases and first-floor walk-outs. Also featuring a recreation area, game room and the Cabana Cafe, the atrium is a magnet for families year ‘round.

Guests at Weber’s also benefit from spacious rooms that are kept meticulously clean. The beds are comfortable and all the modern amenities are present: large-screen television, business desk, complimentary high-speed internet access, in-room coffee maker, refrigerator, iHome radio and more. Perhaps the hotel’s most unique amenity is its indoor Atrium with Four Seasons pool, hot tub and sauna, which is accessible from

Another critical criteria for comfort at Weber’s is its location. Situated only a few miles from downtown Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan campus, Weber’s affords convenient access to shopping, golfing, parks and other recreation. Meanwhile, it is positioned directly next to the I-94 exit 172, which makes it easy to find and provides a quick 30-minute commute to Detroit Metro Airport.


Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel |

With its well-appointed guest suites, its recently renovated lounge, the modernized lobby and the timeless Four Seasons pool and recreation area, hospitality truly is king at Weber’s Boutique Hotel and Restaurant. Consistently rated one of the top hotels in Michigan, Weber’s offers a variety of getaway packages and special offers to make your visit more enjoyable. For more information, visit

Sonja Weber A Dedication by Herman Weber

Sonja Weber has been an integral force behind the longevity and first-class style of Weber’s Restaurant and Boutique Hotel. Since the 1950s, Sonja has been front and center greeting and catering to the restaurant guests as they arrived for dinner. She has connected with and helped to develop the serving staff, and has worked long hours to ensure that the volumes of regular customers were recognized each time they returned. With her distinct ‘European touch’ Sonja guided the restaurant in a city that was transitioning from a beer-and-wine tavern town to the more upscale liquor-serving restaurant destination that Ann Arbor has become. Her knowledge and dedication kept Weber’s at the industry’s forefront during a time in the 1960s when it was necessary to drive to downtown Detroit and visit restaurants like the London Chop House, Caucus Club, Pontchartrain Wine Cellars, Joe Muer’s Seafood and Mario’s to get high-end meals and superior service. Sonja was the ‘go-to’ person at this establishment for 40 years, and her legacy lives on within its walls. Sonja retired in the 1990s and still resides in Ann Arbor.


Weber’s Restaurant & Boutique Hotel |

Weber's Celebrates 75 Years of Hospitality