ANN ARBOR – Having shut its doors in June due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the historic Blue Front in downtown Ann Arbor will reopen in mid-August with new owners.
Sitting on the intersection of Packard Street and South State Street, Blue Front first opened in 1922 and has been a convenience store, a magazine shop and a craft beer and wine shop during its long lifetime.
The store’s new owner, Robert Vogt IV, who runs Saline-based automotive engineering company IOSiX, plans to expand the range of items in the store.
“I think the existing store was really focused on very, very high-end beer and wine and we certainly want to keep that,” said Vogt. “But we also want to add some low-to-mid range offering as well as some grab-and-go food type items, coffee, etc.”
He wants to turn the Blue Front into more of a community resource and plans to add some basic convenience items as well as prepackaged breakfast and lunch offerings from local food producers.
✉ Like what you’re reading? Sign up for our email newsletter here!
As for what drew Vogt to Blue Front, he said that he saw lots of businesses closing in the area and inquired about the store.
“The risk factor right now is off the charts,” Vogt said, but he does expect business to return to the historic store.
He said buying the Blue Front seemed like a good way to diversify while also preserving an Ann Arbor landmark.
Retail is a new venture for Vogt but his local business partner, Erik Kissel, has 15 years of experience in the beer and wine industries of Michigan and California.
When able to, Vogt said that Blue Front will return to offering tasting events as well as monthly beer and wine clubs.
He plans to continue offering carry-out orders and allow in-store shopping with precautions. He would also like to see the store offer delivery, if possible.
Currently, the store is restocking its shelves and waiting for licenses to transfer before it can reopen.
Blue Front Ann Arbor is at 701 Packard St.