|© J. Adrian Wylie|
by Sally Mitani
Jim Cacini, the owner of Dexter's Coney Island, says he stumbled on his latest business by accident.
The sixty-year-old Albanian (whose name is pronounced cuh-SEE-nee) has owned restaurants in Livonia, Dearborn, and Howell. Last summer, he got lost driving with his son Brian, and they found themselves in Dexter. "I said to him: 'You know, I like this town.'"
When they drove past Loreen's Village Cafe, his antenna went up. "When you see an old place, they'll always sell. They don't make no money."
He told Brian to pull over, predicting that the owner was an older woman, ripe for retirement. Ordering a cup of coffee, he quickly spotted owner Loreen McCalla. "We sat at that table right there. I said, 'You want to sell, don't you?' She said, 'Yeah, I want to go to Florida.' We made a deal"--in, he jokes, five seconds. (He was wrong, however, in thinking she wanted to retire--she owns another diner in Palm Bay, Florida, and was tired of dividing her time between the two.)
Cacini was a little taken aback by the welcome he received in town--a fifty-dollar fine and an order from the Dexter Village Council to turn off his neon lights. "I spent two thousand dollars on these lights"--he points to the thin orange neon tubes outlining his windows. "They don't flash or anything. And they're inside the window. I'm not new in this business. I didn't think I had to get a permit for lights inside a building."
It was his own esthetic decision to take down the American flags on the walls, many of them quite large, put up by McCalla, a fervently patriotic woman. "I've got nothing against a flag, but she had them all around," he says. "How many times do you need to see a flag? I still have two." A small one flies by the cash register, and a large one hangs outside the building. Other than adding the
What's happening in local stores and eateries, and restaurant reviews.>> Blogs