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Webers Boutique Hotel: from a small restaurant in a beer-drinking college town

Webers Boutique Hotel & Restaurant
Webers Boutique Hotel & Restaurant
- courtesy of Webers

by SLICK TRACY - Hotel Detective & Food Sleuth
– uncoverning the good, the bad, & the ugly in travel

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The year was 1937. Ann Arbor was a typical small college town, consisting of very few eateries and mostly pubs and taverns where students spent much of their time. The University of Michigan was the primary supplier of revenue for the town. Two brothers, Rheinhold & Herman Weber pooled their funds and opened a small space called the 'Hi-Speed Inn'.

The first Weber venture included long hours by both brothers with the opening time set for 7 am and closing at 2 am. It was a 19-hour shift. There was a single grill, a few tables, and a jukebox, which helped make enough to pay the monthly rent. By 1938, business was booming. In 1940, Rheinhold was drafted for WW2, which created a major hardship for the little business, especially with the food shortages and other 'war-effort' problems. After the war, Rheinhold was married, wanted to move out west, and sold his half ownership to Herman.

The restaurant continued to grow and changed locations often. With the opening of the Interstate Highway system across the U.S., Herman Weber went into the hotel business as well as retaining the restaurant. It was a natural fit. Today, Weber's is considered by many to be the Queen Jewel in Ann Arbor for dining, overnight accomodations, catering, meetings, receptions, and more.

Webers is now in its third generation of family-owners and continually updates and improves the technology, amenities, and design. It offers free WiFi in all the rooms, meeting rooms, lobby, and elsewhere. A small business office is offered free-of-charge.

The restaurant offers timeless food choices with the current Chef's Specialty being Crab Cakes. Michael Weber is the VP of food and beverage. He comments, “We want the menu to be an exciting mix of old and new. We have more classic American entrees, but our chef has the freedom to innovate.” Soups, sauces, dressing, breads – almost all are made in-house. Steaks are always popular, but so is classic American seafood. Patrons can also find baked French Onion Soup and Blue Point Oysters on the menu.

The banquet and meeting facilities are second-to-none in the Ann Arbor area. Groups as small as 10 or as large as 350 can be accomodated. Easter Sunday brunches or Thanksgiving Day dinners at Webers have become an integral part of many area family traditions. Wedding receptions are a mainstay and Webers is considered the most popular venue in the area.

The boutique hotel concept is normally reserved for those smaller hotels that are privately owned, unusual in their history, and cater to their customers. Webers fits that bill. Owner Ken Weber said, “Having all the comforts of home is important, but equally as important is that we provide our guests with hospitality that conveys our personality.” Rooms are kept clean, beds are comfortable, there are in-room refrigerators and coffee makers, and more. A key ingredient for many families that return over and over is the Four Seasons indoor pool and atrium. The atrium features the pool as well as a hot tub and a sauna.

Webers is easily accessible since it is located only a few miles from the University of Michigan campus and downtown Ann Arbor. There is a large shopping area nearby and it is about a 30-minute drive to the Detroit Metro Airport. It is next to Exit 172 off of I-94. You know you found it if there is a life-size bronze of an elk adjacent to the small front desk.

For more information, visit http://www, or call 734-769-2500.

Slick Tracy found that Webers deserves high marks for both the restaurant and the hotel. It definitely has grown over its 75 year history from a small restaurant in a beer-drinking college town to an upscale boutique hotel with fine dining and more.

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