Royal Oak staple Beirut Palace closes, owner blames city leaders

The Beirut Palace has been in operation on Main Street in Royal Oak for more than two decades, but a recent decline in business means it will be closing for good.

Before it does, the owner wanted to leave city leaders with a message - don't ignore the businesses that he says built the downtown. 

Take a look around downtown Royal Oak and you can see they are building for the future, but Sam Ahmad, the owner of Beirut Palace, says his restaurant has no future there. He spoke at Monday's City Council meeting, spreading that message. 

Ahmad said the new construction and issues of parking are cutting into the bottom line.

"It is very hard to say good bye to Royal Oak and all my friends here," he said.

After 21 years of operation, the Middle Eastern restaurant is the latest in the downtown area to close. 

"We started noticing decline in our business 25 to 30 percent," he said.

Before he left he wanted city leaders to know exactly who he blames for restaurant closing.

"It's been the actions of the mayor and city manager that has resulted in Beirut Palace moving out of Royal Oak to a nearby city so I can support my family," he said.

Over the summer Andiamo right across the street closed as well, citing the lack of parking as a main reason. B Spot, a burger joint. and Qdoda are two other restaurants that recently closed downtown. 

Ahmad said he's hearing the same complaints from his customers. 

"They complain either way - no parking, plus tickets and all that," Ahmad said. "So I decided to sell the business and move out."

The city is well aware of the parking issues. Right behind both restaurants sits construction of a new parking structure. But until then, Ahmad feels he's been let down by the city he says he's been so loyal to.

"We made this city as business owners, we made the downtown," he said. "And I hate to see people leaving the downtown."

Mayor Michael Fournier says it is sad to see a longtime business leave but it also says a lot about the city that another business is willing to come in and take its place. 

Beirut Palace has three other locations in Sterling Heights, Warren and Dearborn. The owner says he has plans to open another location, possibly in Troy. The Royal Oak business will close at the end of the week.