Meanwhile, Susan Thomas and Khaled Houamed are planning to open El Harissa Market Cafe, a Tunisian cafe, deli, and market, a few doors down in the former Mercado Sabor Latino. The couple, who met in London twenty-five years ago when Khaled was a PhD student, hope to have part of the market open sometime in December. In January they'll be taking over the commercial kitchen when Todoroff vacates it, and they hope to be selling their own food by February. Like what? "Well," says Thomas, the cook in the family (a Londoner, she says her grandmother cooked "in the big houses, as in Upstairs Downstairs"), "there's a wonderful sandwich called fricasse--fried bread filled with tuna, potatoes, and harissa," the North African spicy chili paste. "She's an amazing couscous-maker," says Khaled. He adds, "we'll be educating the community about the Berber culture, and helping the traditional farmers and producers in North Africa to achieve a good living." They hope to import free-trade olive oil from Tunisia. "People in Ann Arbor will pay $20 for a bottle of olive oil, and they need to know that sometimes the farmer is only making a few cents."
The little wedge of land between the West Stadium post office and Boulevard Plaza (Arbor Farms/Barnes Ace Hardware) was suddenly full of bulldozers and stacks of concrete block this fall. It's being turned into a Fiat dealership--"a studio, it's called. Six cars in the showroom and six sales consultants. All service will be done across the street [at Suburban Chrysler Jeep]," says Ron MacEachern, general manager of both dealerships.