The Malik Report
Two Red Wings alumni-ish notes: Cheli’s Chili’s in Dearborn is closing, and McCarty’s writing a book
by George Malik on 02/20/13 at 04:11 AM ET
Of Red Wings-related note in the, "These stories didn't fit into the recap, they involve Wings alumni and their business interests, and hell, they're important" category:
This isn't good news if you've enjoyed going to Cheli's Chili's Dearborn location to watch Wings games. The Detroit Free Press's Silva Rector reports that the Dearborn branch is closing today, and closing for good:
Cheli’s Chili Bar in Dearborn, owned by former Detroit Red Wings star Chris Chelios, will close at the end of business Wednesday, an employee confirmed today. The well-known sports bar — a fixture at the corner of Michigan and Oakwood in west Dearborn for 10 years — had been for sale “for a while,” said the employee, who asked not to be identified. The bar and restaurant has about 25 employees, who were notified of the closing Saturday.
Najib Rizk — the owner of Le Cigar cocktail and cigar bar at 22263 Michigan — is buying the property in a sale scheduled for closing Wednesday, according to his brother, Mohammed Rizk. He could not say what his brother’s plans were for the building, and Najib Rizk was not available for comment.
Cheli’s business had been up and down but wasn’t bad, the bar employee said. “We have an awesome group of regulars, and just with the regulars alone we did pretty well.”
Cheli’s — where hockey memorabilia fills glass shelves and covers the walls — will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. today.
“It’s very bittersweet,” the employee said. “It is what it is, and it will be fine. There are some openings downtown (in the Cheli’s Detroit location), and we are doing as much as we can to help other staff members find jobs. It’s more like family here.”
Chris Chelios could not be reached for comment.
The downtown Cheli’s Chili Bar at 47 E. Adams remains open. A third Cheli’s Chili Bar, at 41240 Hayes in Clinton Township, is not owned by Chelios but is operated by the Andiamo Restaurant Group under a licensing agreement with the former hockey star.
WWJ Newsradio 950 is confirming as well. This is a bummer for me as I live on the edge of the West Side, and really preferred going to Cheli's Chili in Dearborn because it was a slightly quieter but no less "fun" location to watch a Wings game.
That, and on game nights, sometimes Cheli's Chili has a cover charge, which is a pain in the ass if all you want to do is sit down and have some chili. The food really is great and the chili lives up to its reputation (especially if you're a, "I like chunks of meat and beans in my chili, not a salad's worth of veggies and the occasional glob of greasy, cheap hamburger" chili person--it's thick and substantial), but Cheli's Chili Dearborn was a great place to catch a game in a Wing-y atmosphere without having to go downtown.
And in somewhat surprising alumni news, the Saginaw News's Carron J. Phillips reports that former Wings forward Darren McCarty, who was signing autographs at a YMCA event in Saginaw, has a) moved to Florida and b) is in the final stages of writing a book with USA Today's Kevin Allen:
Former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty made a stop in Saginaw on Tuesday night as part of a fundraiser put on by the YMCA of Saginaw and Caravan Facilities Management.
The four-time Stanley Cup champion says he’s enjoying retirement and spends most of his time in Florida or native home of Canada. However, “Saginawesome” as he calls it, holds a special place in his heart.
McCarty had some significant issues with both his sobriety and getting involved with people who wanted to capitalize on his notoriety, so it's not exactly earth-shaking to hear that he's moved to greener pastures. That being said, his "native home of Canada" means Leamington, Ontario, a 40-minute drive southeast of Detroit, so he's probably spending a chunk of time in the Metro area as well. All in all, I'd say, "Good for him" for finding a different place to make his retirement a livable one.
“I’ve been getting up here for a while now and it’s usually in the summer to play some golf or hand out,” McCarty said. “My wife actually used to work at Covenant so we’re very familiar with the area.” I’m just trying to come here and help raise some money and have a good time in Saginawesome. It’s not Saginaw.”
For five dollars, Red Wing fans got a chance to meet and talk with McCarty and received autographs from the former NHL enforcer.
“The question is always what’s my favorite moment, the [Avalanche] fight or the Stanley Cup goal,” McCarty said. “They are two great things to choose from. Obviously, the impact of that Stanley Cup goal probably wouldn’t have happened if the Lemieux thing didn’t happen. It’s something that I’m proud of and responsible for, and that’s the game that I grew up playing. It’s brothers in arms and that’s the hockey code mentality.”
For now, McCarty is enjoying retirement and says he’s doing “a lot of a little and a little of nothing.” He finds time to fish and plays in some alumni games every now and then, but says he’s just trying to be an ambassador for the Red Wings. He’s also hoping to have the first draft of his book “My Last Fight” will be done by April.
“Kevin Allen, the hockey writer for USA Today is working on it with me and he just finished Jeremy Roenick’s book with him and he’s done a bunch of other sports books,” McCarty said. “I’ve known him for a long time because he’s from Ypsilanti and used to cover the Red Wings.”
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