James was raised on the eastside of Detroit in a household that made everything from scratch. This is where his passion for cooking was born. He entered the restaurant industry at age 14 with Andiamo Trattoria, a kitchen focused on made-from-scratch cooking. His experience working there confirmed that he found his calling. He went on to earn a Bronze medal in the American Culinary Federation post-secondary hot foods competition and helped coach young chefs to the podium in years after. He worked at the Common Grill in Chelsea, MI and then headed to New York City, honing his culinary craft at Empellon Cocina, Momofuku Ma Peche and Seamstress. On a trip to visit their sons, Jan and Harry, owners of Black Pearl Ann Arbor, asked James if he would ever come back to Michigan. He said it has always been his dream to be the Executive Chef at Black Pearl because he was part of the team that created the original menu in 2008. Chef James brings a new level of creativity to our offerings with an emphasis on what's fresh, what's in season, and what's delicious.



Michael's mother was a managing partner in several restaurants and early on, he immersed himself in the hospitality business. He worked every position, including the kitchen, the bar and the front of the house. Michael's first experience as a General Manager was about 15 years ago in Royal Oak at Fifth Ave Billiards, a very high volume bar and live entertainment venue. What was missing was the chance to combine his love of food with his vast knowledge of wine and spirits. When he met Harry, he told him that he wanted this to be the last job he ever has. For Michael, this is more than a job. He continuously shows our guests what it's like to use love as the main ingredient in everything we do.



As a psychologist who travels the country giving talks to executives on leadership, customer service, and personal development, launching Black Pearl Ann Arbor was a perfect opportunity to create an environment that embodies the essence of what Harry talks about; welcoming people with love, creating a great place to work, and delivering a memorable experience. In his book, Secrets of the Obvious, Harry writes of the human need for friendship and a place where people can be surrounded by “good company.” The mission of the staff at Black Pearl is to create a unique and accessible place where people can gather with friends, family, or strangers and be uplifted by the food, the service, the music, and the beautiful ambiance. Please join us for any or all of the above.



Jan has lived in Ann Arbor for over 40 years and is the co-owner of Black Pearl Ann Arbor with her husband Harry. Jan uses her artistic sensibilities to make the overall vibe of Black Pearl a beautiful, warm, inviting, and uplifting place for customers and staff alike. The unique ambience of Black Pearl is one of the reasons people love to hang out there and Jan is forever looking for ways to enhance that experience for everyone.