Landmark A&W to become coffee shop

Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON — The new owner of the former downtown A&W hopes to keep an old-fashioned feeling in the location, although drive-up coffee service will not likely be on the menu.

Grosse Ile resident and local businessman Mark Hayes — co-owner of Dotte Pub in Wyandotte — purchased the property and building last month from Signature Associates. Hayes had previously made a purchase offer in February but did not at the time accept a counter-offer.

Details of the purchase were unavailable, but Trenton Mayor Kyle Stack and City Administrator Jim Wagner said that Hayes had planned to open a Bear Claw Coffee and Calder’s Ice Cream outlet at the location.

Stack had hopes at one point that A&W might work with the city or a local developer to reopen the local landmark; the downtown A&W was one of the company’s oldest franchises with its classic carport service.

Although drive-up coffee is not expected,Hayes and his wife, Debbie — who is reportedly expected to supervise most of the day-to-day operations — expect to outfit the business with historic photos and memorabilia similar to the vintage photos and restoration work done on the Edinger Hotel that became Dotte Pub.

Before decorating details are finalized, Hayes will first have to bring the building back up to functional status. Among the hesitations when Hayes made his first offer in February of $65,000 was the added costs needed to repair a once-flooded basement and address drainage issues.

City officials consider the purchase yet another step toward revitalizing business in Trenton. Wagner said a steady progression of developments, including progress on the former Riverside Hospital and development interest in the Detroit Steel property, indicates an upturn in the local economy.

Last month Wagner said he spends about half of his time on economic development, and filling vacant downtown storefronts remains a priority.

No timetable had been given yet on restoration efforts. Hayes was unavailable for comment prior to press time.

(James Mitchell can be reached at