That was in 2007. Things took a new turn in 2009, when the house behind Zingerman's on Kingsley caught fire: "A man and woman lived there, and the woman was smoking in bed," says Singleton. "One of our dishwashers saw smoke and yelled, 'Fire!' Then he pulled her out of the house and saved her life." The owner couldn't afford to rebuild, so Zingerman's bought the property.
Viewed from Kingsley, the addition is a simple brick box, and a lot of it houses kitchens, offices, IT, and other infrastructure that most customers will never see. In early October the dining rooms on the first and second floor were just getting their first coats of paint, and carpenters had just about completed the built-in benches lining the walls of one of those rooms. The wood for the benches came from a spruce tree that stood in front of the house that "for the longest time we didn't know what to do with," Singleton says. "We took it to Sawmill John--he has a real name, I can't think what--and he aged it and sliced it into planks, and just recently we got the idea for the benches." Sawmill John's homespun contribution notwithstanding, the architect was Quinn Evans--another Kerrytown-area company with a national reputation.
An atrium connecting the new and the old buildings will take another several months to complete, and when that's done operations will move around to slightly different positions again. But this leg of the renovation is the big one. "For months staff has been carrying fifty-pound sheet trays up and down stairs trying to move the product around because we don't have an elevator. We'll all be so glad to see that come to an end."
Zingerman's Deli, 422 Detroit, 663-3354. Daily 7 a.m.-10 p.m. zingermansdeli.com