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DETROIT-After closing his popular Detroit restaurant near the expanding OrchestraHall, Matt Prentice admitted there is a negotiation to put an eatery at theRenaissance Center (the General Motors Corp. headquarters) downtown.

Prentice’s Unique Restaurant Corp. shut the doors of Duet in late May. Theplace just wasn’t making money, the 43-year-old Prentice told GlobeSt.com.

“The customer count was going down, compared to last year and the yearbefore that,” Prentice said, adding that the lease on the building, the one walk-to eatery near Orchestra Hall, wasending anyway.”The cost of doing business was just getting too high. It just didn’t makesense to just working to pay for personal and property taxes,” Prenticesaid.

The Orchestra Hall area is getting quite popular. The Hall has beenrenovated to the tune of $60 million; the new four-story center willencompass 130,000 sf of new public space and backstage supportfacilities. It will be known as the Max M. Fisher Music Center, or “The Max,”after a local developer and philanthropist.Residential developments have been proposed for the areas around the hall,and other projects are being discussed.

Regardless, Prentice said it was just time to close Duet. He isn’t as sureof the area’s strength.

“The city has just not rebounded yet,” Prentice said. “Sales have erodedsince Sept. 11, 2001, and the city just hasn’t come back. Also, the areaaround Orchestra Hall is just not as developed as I had hoped it would be bynow. It’s just so much easier to go to the suburbs, where rebounds arefaster.”

In 1980, Matthew Prentice took over a shuttered sandwich shop in Oak Park,MI, tossed his last $200 into the till and opened the Deli Unique, servingentrees like Beef Wellington and flaming duck at deli prices. He now owns 12restaurants in the suburbs, and a substantial catering business.

Duet was Prentice’s only city of Detroit restaurant. Rumors have floated that he’snegotiating to put a restaurant into GM’s Renaissance Center, but he declines to confirm or deny this. “That’s not something I can comment on,” he said. “We don’t have a deal. Whether it will be done, I don’‚t know. All this talk is premature.”

However, he admitted he doesn’t want to leave the Motor City.”Hopefully, if what we are contemplating should work out, that’s where we’llwant to be in the city,” Prentice said.

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