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A Third-Year Jewel
Steven Lelli's On the Green does justice to Italian dining namesake.
he first year in the restaurant
Their grandson, Steven Lelli,
and working partner Mark
business is usually, more or less,
Zarkin, with wife, Fran Zarkin,
considered a period of learning
have built a dining emporium
... Hopes are by many to keep their heads
above water until the "sink-or-swim"
that is a distinct credit to a
knowledge has been attained.
Generally, the second year tells a story
The short three-year exis-
... A restaurant such as Steven Lelli's Inn
tence has resulted in the pres-
On the Green, Golfpointe Boulevard off of
ence of a true Italian dining
12 Mile, between Halsted and Haggerty,
destination restaurant ... with
Farmington Hills, is an example ... It had
highly experienced employ-
originally started out as just another restau- ees now that include favorite
rant where one or more of its owners might servers at the original Lelli's
have limited dining experience ... and
back in the 1970s ... Sanford "Sandy"
dependence was on a very esteemed name.
Tennenbaum, Lou Halatsis, Douglas
That first year followed a pattern in a
hard-fought battle for survival ... Then
The temptation of adding dishes foreign
came year No. 2 ... with opening pressures to the original Lelli's theme has arrived
alleviated and arrival of the shining light
numerous times ... But even though the
of acceptance and approval.
unlike-Lelli's food might have brought
It proved to also have a very important
additional revenue, they stuck to their
asset ... The merit of know-how ability in
primary distinction of only original Lelli's
dishes ... and Mark
The "name" reputa-
and Steven have, in
tion was there, but the
three years, achieved
owners recognized that
what some people said
a new restaurant almost
would not be possible.
always has its initial
Very few restaurants
setbacks ... Opening
open without problems
jitters have been erased
... And Steven Lelli's
... So were restaurant
was no different ...
learning errors ... and
First-year service dif-
ficulties were huge ...
there may have been.
Complaints came on
Steven Lelli's Inn On
the service that mixed
Fran and Mark Zarkin
the Green had grown
experienced help with
those who had little
With arrival of the third year that it is
experience ... To be successful, it was a
now celebrating, its owners can revel in
large "must" that had to be fixed ... Then
the knowledge that has been achieved in
water leaks began spraying the kitchen ...
its short existence ... Steven Lelli's Inn has
and were repaired immediately, etc.
become a very popular, highly visited and
Remodeling snags from a previous
wonderful Italian dining establishment
owner at the location took six months
that Nerio and Irene, the late owners of
more than expected to repair ... and
the original Lelli's onWoodward Avenue,
expenses, rent, utilities, etc. went on ...
Detroit, would be proud of in the master-
Finally, in the seventh month of tearing
ful world of Italian cuisine.
out hair, Steven Lelli's became a reality.
NOW TAKING RESERVATIONS FOR H • LI
The second year found
service problems in the minor-
ity ... The food put out by
Executive Chef Chris Merritt
and his kitchen staff had
become much talked-about
for its taste and quality, with
many original Lelli's custom-
ers exclaiming that it was
now even better than what
they had enjoyed and always
raved about at the Lelli's on
Two items are recalled as being poor sell-
ers at the original Lelli's ... eggplant parme-
san and salmon ... Now many say they are
among the best they have ever eaten ... The
eggplant parmesan has become one of the
most popular orders ... and in two years,
Steven Lelli's has sold more than 15,000
pounds of the salmon, pan-seared and lay-
ered atop a mound of spinach and served
with beurre blanc sauce.
Today, too, Steven Lelli's prides itself
on the serving of original Lelli's favorites
like chateaubriand, spaghetti Bolognese
with prime tenderloin meatballs, excellent
Also dishes have been added that Nerio
and Irene might have liked on their menu
if they had had the room ... Pan-roasted
sea bass with anchovy butter, cavatelli
pasta and truffles, rigatoni with creamy
tomato sauce and fresh basil, chopped
prime sirloin with sauteed mushrooms
and onions accompanied by a burgundy
Even a distinguished mom-and-pop
ownership connotation ... with Mark and
Fran's five children taking active parts in
the restaurant's success.
Three years may not seem like much
in the restaurant business, but in that
time, Steven Lelli's Inn On the Green has
become an award-winning restaurant ...
rated among the best Italian dining spots
in Metropolitan Detroit.
FREE TURKEY DINNER for every-
one ... with all the stuffing and goodies,
homemade hot pumpkin pie, etc. ... No
questions asked ... No check, no tipping,
employees volunteering their time ...
Yearly tradition of thanks is by brother-
owners Moe, Sam and Wally Leon who've
been doing it for 24 years.
The restaurants will be open only for
this feature after 2 p.m. the day before
Thanksgiving, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2-8
p.m. ... at Moe's on Ten (formerly Leon's),
10 Mile Road, Novi; Leon's, Telegraph
Road, Taylor; and Leon's, Michigan
OLDIE BUT GOODIE DEPT.... Three
sons go abroad, prosper and discuss the
gifts they were able to give their aging
Avraham said, "I built a big house for
Moishe said, "I sent her a Mercedes with
David said, "You remember how mother
enjoys reading the Bible? Now she can't see
very well. I sent her a remarkable parrot
that recites the whole Bible. Mama just has
to name the chapter and verse:'
Soon after, a letter of thanks came from
"Avraham," she said, "the house you
built is so huge. I live only in one room,
but I have to clean the whole house:'
"Moishe," she wrote, "I am too old to
travel. I stay most of the time at home so I
rarely use the Mercedes. And that driver is
a big pain:'
"But David:' she said, "the chicken was
CONGRATS ... To Leonard Moss on
his birthday ... To Marilyn Tringali on her
birthday ... To Nicole Meisner on her 21st
birthday ... To Addy Katz on her birthday
... To Rita Golding on her birthday.
Danny's email address is
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