Carrie Rengers

Family plans to lease the Zelman building

After not being home to much activity for the past several years, the Zelman's building at the northeast corner of St. Francis and Douglas is ready for new tenants.

"If you take a look at the studies and downtown revitalizing, this is the prime location, and I think we owe it to the city and to the community to do something with the corner," says David Moses , whose family has occupied the building since the 1920s and has owned it for decades.

Moses is a lawyer at Case Moses Zimmerman & Martin , but he says, "If I didn't have my own professional career right now, it would be kind of neat to try and continue what my grandfather started back in the '20s.

"It'd be neat to try to do a men's clothing store down there again."

Moses' grandfather, Sam Zelman , immigrated here from Czechoslovakia in 1920 and started Zelman's clothing store in the 1920s with the intention of bringing his family here once he got established.

"By the time he was able to do that, Hitler was taking power," Moses says.

"By the time my grandfather was able to make all the arrangements, it was too late."

Zelman's daughter (and Moses' mother), Esther , was forced into a concentration camp. She and her future husband, Herbert Moses , later met at a liberation camp.

Herbert Moses joined Zelman's in 1948 and ran the shop with Sam Zelman until Zelman's death in the early 1970s. Then Herbert and Esther ran the shop together until Herbert's death in 1991.

Esther Moses remained a well-known fixture at the shop, which she walked to almost daily from her College Hill home, until 2006 when she was physically unable to come to the store anymore.

"It's not an easy process to make this type of a transition," David Moses says of everything his family has had to take care of since then.

Now, though, he's ready to market the two-story building, which has 7,500 square feet on each floor. He's hired Builders Inc. to list the property, and Larry Weber is handling leasing.

"If you were to look and try to say, 'What are one of the prime (downtown) corners?' St. Francis and Douglas would be one of them," Weber says.

"What's exciting about it is... if you combine it with what (consultant) Goody Clancy is saying about downtown, they're almost looking at it as an empty canvas," Weber says of the Moses family. "'What can this be?' "

Retail, residential, office — even a hotel like the one that used to be on the second floor — are all possibilities.

"A lot of things could be successful down here," Moses says. "There are a lot of people in the community that can do some really neat things with the key part of downtown. That's one of the reasons we're making this step."

Not that Moses is going to open his own shop — at least not now.

"I'm not so sure that would be the smartest thing for me to do at this time in my career."

Maharaja to move

Maharaja Cuisine of India, which opened at 1701 N. Broadway last year, is moving to 3008 W. Central where New York Cafe once was.

"I think that is a better location," owner Raj Singh says.

"People don't like to come here in the evening," he says of his current space.

Singh plans to keep the same menu, including his lunch buffet, and the same hours. Maharaja is open daily except Mondays.

The new restaurant will open late this month or early in February.

Travel plans

The peripatetic retail shop Muse-E-Yum —which opened in Old Town in 2003, then moved to Central and Woodlawn and then to Douglas and Rock — is now closing.

"We've given this a shot," says owner Jan Green .

She and her husband, Ron , now have other plans.

"We started a Web-based travel business a few months ago," she says. "I really want to devote more of my time to that."

The economy also is a factor.

"Things are really unpredictable right now," Green says. "That's part of it, but it's not all of it."

The bigger thing is that the Greens love travel.

"Doing the business part of it just makes sense for us," Jan Green says.

Their business is at www.freeasabird.rovia.com.

"I'm just loving it," Green says.

She liked retail, too, but Green says, "I just don't like being tied down so much."

Muse-E-Yum most likely will close by late February, but that could change depending on when there's a new tenant for the space.

You don't say

"I don't care if it never snows again."

—Restaurateur Jim Stevens , who owns numerous concepts including the local Applebee's franchise, on how much snow hurts his business

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