Denise Ilitch Has Her Eye On The 220 Restaurant In Birmingham

January 16, 2014, 10:07 AM by  Bill McGraw

Denise Ilitch is a well-known lawyer, University of Michigan regent, philanthropist, political fundraiser, jewelry store owner and magazine publisher.

She now is eyeing another job: restaurateur.

Ilitch has been negotiating to buy the popular 220 restaurant at 220 Merrill Street in downtown Birmingham, according to people with knowledge of the talks.

It's uncertain if the deal has closed. Ilitch, through, a spokesman, declined to discuss 220. A current owner, Judi Roberts, could not be reached. But the liquor license is in transition and anticipation is high in Birmingham over how 220 might evolve.

Housed in a building that served from 1932 to 1975 as a Detroit Edison office in which customers paid bills and obtained free light bulbs, 220 features a contemporary American menu and promotes its Tuesday ossu bucco special.

Reviewing 220, Hour Detroit says: “The clubby bar up front is only part of the reason the place is always packed. The menu includes well-executed dishes in each category: appetizers, entree salads, pasta, most of the meat groups, and potatoes and risotto. Best are the simple picks, which allow the kitchen's skillfully created flavors to shine.”

Ilitch, 58, was elected to the U-M Board of Regents in 2008 and rumored in 2010 to be considering a run for the Democratic nomination for governor. She owns the Denise Ilitch Designs store in downtown Birmingham and serves as co-publisher, with Dennis Archer Jr., of Ambassador Magazine, which in November moved from its Oakland County offices to downtown Detroit. She is “of counsel” at  the Clark Hill law firm.

In April 2012, Ilitch and husband Jim Scalici hosted President Barack Obama for a fundraiser at their Bingham Farms home.

The daughter of Mike and Marian Ilitch, Denise Ilitch served as  president of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., the privately held business that manages the family’s Little Caesar Enterprises, Red Wings, Tigers, and Fox Theatre. Marian Ilitch also owns the Motor City Casino.

In the late 1990s, Denise Ilitch was part of the brain trust that put together the deal for Comerica Park and Ford Field. In 2009, she served as one of the leaders of Dave Bing’s transition team after Bing was elected Detroit mayor.

Click here for Denise Ilitch's blog.

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