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Peridot & Adam Lowenstein: The Struggles of Opening a Business

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Gabe Deedler

The Ann Arbor restaurant business is a cut-throat world of cuisine that can make or break an establishment, but few know it better than Adam Lowenstein.

From BTB Burrito on South U. to Alley Bar on West Liberty, to LIVE on 1st, Lowenstein has opened many of the food joints that downtown shoppers know and love. However, a new restaurant has recently joined that list. Peridot opened its doors for the first time just a few months ago and has had an overwhelming influx of positive reception.

Located on West Liberty St. next to Pacific Rim, Peridot resides in one of the most bustling corners of Ann Arbor, taking over a space previously occupied by Grange Kitchen and Bar. Grange had thrived on Liberty for over 10 years but sadly closed in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, as the pandemic has slowly died down over the past year, Lowenstein and his colleagues saw an opportunity.

“Peridot was born from a partnership between my business partners in Watershed Hospitality and Chef Duc Tang, the owner and chef of Pacific Rim,” Lowenstein said. “We’ve known each other for a long time, and after Grange went out of business on Liberty we thought it was a good opportunity and location to work together and open a new restaurant.”

“We’ve known each other for a long time, and after Grange went out of business on Liberty we thought it was a good opportunity and location to work together and open a new restaurant.”

— Adam Lowenstein

He and his partners took inspiration from a variety of modern food and cocktail recipes in crafting their menu, but specifically from the rich Vietnamese culture rooted in co-founder Chef Duc Tang’s heritage. Although Vietnamese culture also influences Tang’s cooking at Pacific Rim, Peridot’s menu has its own distinct flare.

Dishes range from crab fried rice, seared scallops, and pork spareribs, to Rohan duck and even roasted cauliflower — accommodating a wide culinary and dietary spectrum. On top of that, diners can choose between large and small plates to fit their appetite and budget.

The refinement of the restaurant has been a long time in the making, and although Peridot now has its vision down to a tee, Lowenstein didn’t always have the knowledge of the market that he does today.

Lowenstein first discovered his love of culinary arts after moving to California with his family for high school. Mexican food specifically left a huge impact on him during his time on the West Coast, as Hispanic culture had a grip on the area, however, he had no intent to go into the business itself at that time. It was only when he moved to Michigan to study at UofM that opening a restaurant became a possibility.

“I was an English major in college,” Lowenstein said. “Not really knowing what I was going to do after school career-wise, the idea of opening a restaurant was really exciting to me.”

From there came a storm of restaurants, all catered toward college kids. BTB Burrito, for example, was the first restaurant Lowenstein opened with a few partners; a cheap and accessible burrito spot perfect for a quick, on-the-go meal. Shortly after, he and a business partner purchased Good Time Charley’s, a cozy college bar. Lowenstein’s experience at UofM gave him an advantage in understanding what would appeal to students around campus, so his businesses gained wild success from day one.

“Each business is obviously very different, but the through-line is having a good understanding of the gaps in the market, and how we can create something that fills it,” Lowenstein said. “For instance, when we opened the burrito place, it was right on the front end of the Fresh-Mex phenomenon, before Chipotle, or Qdoba, or any of those businesses were in Ann Arbor.”

For Lowenstein, one of the biggest challenges in opening and operating a business is shaping the idea. Peridot didn’t even receive its name until a ways through the process, and a permanent sign and logo for the restaurant have been an ongoing struggle. Additionally, the team went over time and budget in the construction process, which Lowenstein thinks can be extremely stressful. Even so, having a dedicated team to the project ended up being the most important thing.

“It’s kind of lucky because the chance of success is so small when you’re starting your first restaurant. At this stage, we know so much more about operations, and have more access to financing, and have an infrastructure in place, so that we have a better shot of being successful — but nothing is guaranteed.”

— Adam Lowenstein

With any business comes small hurdles, but Lowenstein and small business owners in Ann Arbor continue to innovate and tackle them efficiently, bringing Ann Arbor a diverse range of restaurants that, like Peridot, never fail to impress.

“It’s kind of lucky because the chance of success is so small when you’re starting your first restaurant,” Lowenstein said. “At this stage, we know so much more about operations, and have more access to financing, and have an infrastructure in place, so that we have a better shot of being successful — but nothing is guaranteed.”

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About the Contributor
Gabe Deedler, Journalist
Gabe is a Sophomore at CHS and this is his first semester doing journalism. When he's not lounging in the school halls or doing classwork, he spends his free-time drawing, playing video games, buying clothes, and working out. He also loves to be creative and design things for people, like stickers or logos. Gabe has taken two years of Japanese and is in his third semester of Mandarin Chinese and he hopes to learn about and visit more.

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