ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WJBK) - Parking problems and a new city hall project are stirring up controversy in Royal Oak. Some worried residents say the city's plans to increase office space are driving out its downtown's bread and butter.
Sam Ahmad of Beirut Palace on Main Street says the Middle Eastern restaurant hasn't been serving up a lot of hummus or anything for that matter since all surface parking was ripped out in May to make room for a new development project.
"We got a lot of customers they stop picking up carry out orders because they can't find parking out there," he said.
Down the street Andiamo shut down after 19 years in business, saying the lack of customer parking gave them no choice but to close.
According to Take Back Royal Oak Coalition, a group made up of residents and business owners, Cantina Diablo isn't renewing its lease.
"We're just struggling at this moment so we can't afford to do anything anymore, we just close down and go home," said Mike Zbouk of Boukie's.
But during Monday night's city commission meeting, the mayor disputed claims that parking issues led to Andiamo closing.
Michael Fournier also denied widespread reports that more restaurants are closing.
"I'm aware that Andiamo is leaving; I'm also aware that Bar Louie is coming in and I'm also aware, based on these statements, Cantina Diablo's and Red Fox are staying, investing in Royal Oak and they're very excited about what we're doing in town. Certainly it's always sad to see business go but it's also exciting to see the great new businesses that are coming to Royal Oak as well," Fournier told us.
He says the city collaborated with local small businesses before launching the major construction project in the city and is adding a new parking deck, which will have hundreds of parking spaces.