Development News

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Authentic Mexican comes to Packard St. with Mi Compadre

Nicolas Quintana knows the restaurant industry, and he knows Mexican food. The Mexico native has been working in restaurants for the last 15 years since coming the United States, and now he, his nephew, and his longtime friend are bringing all of that experience to Mi Compadre, a new Mexican restaurant on Packard that promises only the freshest and most authentic of Mexican foods. 

"This is not Taco Bell. This is not Chi-Chi's," says Quintana. "We want people to know what real Mexican food is."

Among those authentic options will be such dishes as tlayudas, a pizza-like entree with a tortilla crust. All of their dishes will also focus on fresh ingredients and will be made from scratch to order. 

Mi Compadre has been in the works for about a year as Quintana and his partners have renovated about 90 percent of the former Ann Arbor Subs space. Updates have included everything from plumbing to new seating. Tables for 48 diners have been installed in the new restaurant. After all that hard work, Mi Compadre finally opened for business last week. 

"Eveyrthing has been very good so far," Quintana says. "We had people who come and say they like it because everything is made to order."

In addition to the owners, Mi Compadre employs a staff of four. 

Source: Nicolas Quintana, Mi Compadre
Writer: Natalie Burg

Mishigama Craft Brewing to add more variety to Ypsilanti's growing beer scene

After more than two decades with General Motors. David Roberts was looking for a new challenge. It just so happened that his daughter's father-in-law, a longtime craft beer brewer, was looking for the same thing at the same time. Their resulting project will soon take place in the form of Mishigama Craft Brewing in downtown Ypsilanti. 

"There is a lot of good beer made in the Ann Arbor/Ypsi area, and we hope to add to it," Roberts says. "There is a market in Ypsi for this type of product." 

Mishigama Craft Brewing will feature a variety of craft beers, including wheat beers, ales and stouts. The goal is to eventually serve food as well, though the business may begin small with six to eight beers on tap. 

"I'm hoping people will come and find us, and hopefully they'll have a nice, enjoyable experience for people in downtown Ypsilanti," says Roberts. 

The 5,700 square foot location, part of which was a former Buffalo Wild Wings, is well-suited to Roberts' vision of a downtown brewery and restaurant with room for growth. He expects Mishigama Craft Brewing to seat between 100 and 125 customers. Initially, he anticipates hiring a brewery staff in the range of five to 10 workers. Once restaurant operations are underway, however, that number could range up to 40 employees. Roberts hopes to open Mishigama Craft Brewing late summer of 2015.

Source: David Roberts, Mishigama Craft Brewing
Writer: Natalie Burg

Popular Ann Arbor Indian restaurant Cardamom to expand

It wasn't long ago when, Binod Dhakal and his wife opened Cardamom Restaurant on Plymouth Rd. in Ann Arbor. Less than two years later, the popular place with the tagline "Fresh Indian" is expanding, allowing them to serve more customers more quickly. 

"The expansion area design will allow folks to wait for a table or carry out order comfortably, and grab a drink while they wait," says Dhakal. "It will also make the dining room more comfortable for seated guests because there won't be all the in and out traffic. And perhaps most importantly will be what you won't see: an expanded kitchen so we can produce more food."

The Courtyard Shops restaurant is currently 1,709 square feet, plus an adjacent outdoor patio. The closing of the Biggby Coffee shop next door is allowing them to expand into an additional 1,105 square feet.

"We knew after about two weeks in business that if we ever had the opportunity to expand we would need to grab it, so when this space came open next door we had to go for it," Dhakal says. "It's a risk since we've only been in business 20 months, but we have really great regular customers and we hope they will lend us their patience through this construction and transition."

Dhakal is waiting for his plans to be approved by the city, but should everything move forward as expected, he hopes to open for business in the new area sometime this summer. He anticipates remaining open as much as possible throughout construction. 

Dhakal anticipates growing his staff by eight to 10 workers after the expansion. In terms of future plans, he hopes to continue to grow and eventually add catering to Cardamom's offerings. 

Source: Binod Dhakal, Cardamom Restaurant
Writer: Natalie Burg

Coffee roasters to set up shop in Ypsilanti's Depot Town

There is no shortage of coffee experience among the partners behind the forthcoming Hyperion Coffee Company in Ypsilanti. Dan Kubera has been a barista, roaster and manager in the coffee business for more than five years, Alex Merz is a longtime coffee connoisseur and Eric Mullins has spent more than a decade in the industry. Together, they plan to create micro-roasted coffee with a focus on relationships, science and education. 

"Our specialization will be in working as much as possible with farmers when we can and to develop that work into lasting relationships that our local community can invest into," says Mullins. "We are trying to focus on educating our customers and wholesaling our coffee so that we can reach a wider audience and to get great coffee into more hands." 

Hyperion Coffee Company will be located on N. River St. in a 1,200 square foot space Depot Town location. As Kubera and Mullins are both former managers at the Ugly Mug Cafe, the Ypsilanti location was a great way to capitalize on their established local network of coffee lovers, a well as position themselves well between Ann Arbor and Detroit. 

"When we first took a tour of the place a few months ago we kind of fell in love with the old brickwork, the giant green doors, great location in Depot Town, and amazing neighbors," Mullins says. "When we all met up after our initial walkthrough we were in awe that such a cool spot had gone unused in Depot Town for so long, we fell in love with it and immediately picked it up."

The Hyperion Coffee team hopes to have their roasting operations underway by mid- to late March. While their focus will be entirely on roasting initially, they hope to eventually add a small cafe to the business. Mullins says they expect to hire two to three employees in the first year, and can foresee employing 10 to 12 workers in the future. 

Source: Eric Mullins, Hyperion Coffee Company
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ann Arbor's Tiny Buddha Yoga opens and grows quickly on Pauline Blvd.

After graduating from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor native Risa Gotlib had a great job in business management in New York. And she just wasn't happy. Missing her family and looking for another way to make a living, the longtime yoga practitioner moved back to Ann Arbor and trained to be a yoga instructor. Once certified, she built up a large network of students, both in various studios and through private clients in town, but found she was again missing something. 

"I realized that the kind of vibe I wanted to feel, I didn't feel at any of the studios I was working at," she says. "I had a personal relationship with my students, but not with the studios. I decided that I was just going to sort of go for it."

Go for it she did, leasing space on Pauline Blvd. in Ann Arbor and opening Tiny Buddha Yoga in 1,200 square foot space in January. Attracted by the high ceilings and large windows, she had finally found a space where she could create the yoga space she had envisioned. 

"This is not like a business; it's a personal experience," says Gotlib. "I know my students, I know about their lives, and I want it to be that way. Instead of trying too sell them something, we're practicing this beautiful thing together and and building a community."

Others are clearly into the vibe as well. In her first month, Tiny Buddha Yoga saw more than 300 students come through the door, keeping Gotlib and her team of four other yoga instructors busy. She hopes to continue to grow the business, as well as her involvement in the community.

Source: Risa Gotlib, Tiny Buddha Yoga
Writer: Natalie Burg

Pita King brings Middle Eastern sandwiches to E. Stadium

Just across the parking lot from Trader Joe's, a new restaurant is hoping to attract some of the popular grocer's fresh, natural food-loving audience. Pita King joined the neighborhood on Dec. 17, offering a healthy, American twist on Middle Eastern sandwiches. 

"Because what we serve is so healthy and fresh, we thought it would be great location," says Assistant Manager Fidaa Kasham, who operates Pita King with her husband, manager Moe Shalabi. "We also use organic chicken that has no antibiotics. It's what we've been using at home for years, and we wanted to share it with others."

A family affair, Pita King is owned by Shalabi's father, and two of the sandwiches on the menu are named after the couple's children. A longtime restaurant worker, Kasham says her husband saw opening a restaurant as an opportunity to do the work he enjoys in a new way. 

"He's always loved the food industry," she says. "He never wanted to leave his spot, but he always said if he were ever to leave, it would be for his own place. We found this great location and felt very fortunate."

While diners will find familiar Middle Eastern titles on Pita King's menu, Kasham says the American twist comes in with the ingredients, including cheddar cheese, banana peppers, lettuce and tomato, as well as chicken. She and her husband currently operate the restaurant with the help of her brother-in-law. As their delivery service and business grows, they plan to hire a delivery driver and additional kitchen worker. 

Source: Fidaa Kasham, Pita King
Writer: Natalie Burg

The Lunch Room to open second downtown Ann Arbor location next week

Just a few years ago, The Lunch Room was but a food cart. As of next week, the popular vegan eatery will be an established and growing restaurant chain with two downtown locations. 

"The Kerrytown location probably wasn't big enough from the first day we moved in there," says co-owner Joel Panozzo of The Lunch Room's first permanent location, which opened in 2013. "We've been making things work, but on a weekly basis, we'd say no to large catering orders and wedding cakes and one thing after another. So we've been trying to figure out how we could say yes."

The answer turned out to be a second location with a larger baking space. The new restaurant in Huron Towers on Fuller Ct. will include a 1,037-square foot dining room and adjoining kitchen large enough for the owners to expand their baking operations enough to cover both locations, catering and wholesale orders.

The new Lunch Room will feature grab-and-go options to cater to the student and hospital worker crowds buzzing around Huron Towers, while the Kerrytown location will continue to focus on made-to-order meals. Sit-down dining, however, will definitely still be available at the new restaurant, in addition to their deli case offerings. 

"With the sandwiches, we'll unwrap it and grill it to order," says Panozzo. "We'll play and experiment with how far we can take the grab-and-go concept."

Panozzo expects to begin with a soft opening of the new location over this weekend, with doors officially opening some day next week. He and co-owner Phillis Engelbert plan to employ about 15 part- and full-time workers at the new restaurant.

Source: Joel Panozzo, The Lunch Room
Writer: Natalie Burg

Plum Market brings second store to Ann Arbor, 125 new jobs

A new grocery store planned for the former Cleary University property on Plymouth Rd. will be a familiar sight for many Ann Arbor shoppers. Plum Market, the Farmington Hills-based grocer that opened their first Ann Arbor location in 2008, aims to open the doors on a second area location in the space this fall. 

“This location will be the most exciting Plum Market yet!,” says CEO & Co-Founder of Plum Market Matt Jonna. “We have previously operated a store in this area, so we think of this as a homecoming and are very excited to return to the neighborhood with Plum Market.”

The new location will indeed be very nearby the former Merchant of Vino Marketplace, which was owned by Jonna’s father. The family’s Plum Market venture, which now operates four locations in Michigan and Illinois, is known for its commitment to local, fresh and sustainable produce. And their plans for growth won’t stop with the new Ann Arbor location.

“We plan to grow in the Midwest and continue to offer our guests the best selection of natural, organic, specialty, and local products,” Jonna says. “We are also opening a new location inside the Detroit Metropolitan Airport this fall.”

The new Plum Market will be 25,000 square feet. The company expect to employ 125 workers at the location when it opens this fall. 

Source: Matt Jonna, Plum Market
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Arbor Hills Crossing salon to offer fine art with hair artistry

Clair Broderick has long been an artist of hair, but she’s also a mixed-media, painting and crafts artist too. That collection of talents will all be on display at her new saline boutique, Sprig Hair Studio 21, in Arbor Hills Crossing. 

“I see my salon as a high-end, boutique salon,” says Broderick. ”Others that work with me in the space will have that skill and customer care for our clients as their absolute first priority.”

Sprig Hair Studio 21 opened on Jan. 6, though Broderick is developing her vision for the space as she works in it. She anticipates having her full line of products, including her own art and jewelry, in place by the end of February. 

“I have brought in local art by friends and myself to decorate along with a few vintage pieces,” Broderick says. “I am having custom work made by clients who were willing to help and trade for their fantastic abilities.”

In addition to herself, Broderick will work with two other stylists at Sprig Hair Studio 21. She is also looking for one additional employee. Her future plans include becoming involved in community efforts such as volunteering in schools, community events and non-profits. 

Source: Claire Broderick, Sprig Hair Studio 21
Writer: Natalie Burg

Three sisters, one new wedding-focused studio in downtown Ann Arbor

Julie Hill and her sisters Hannah Butler and Whitney Keeler have three distinct talents, and yet they've found a way to combine them into one business. Imagine Three Beauty Studio opened in November on E. Liberty in downtown Ann Arbor, offering what each sister does best: event hair styling, photography and makeup services. 

"We are just taking three of our talents and going with it," says Hill, who is the hairstylist of the trio. "If I'm working with clients, my sister can meet with her photography clients here, and they can see the work and flow of what we do on a daily basis."

Weddings are a natural fit for Imagine Three Beauty Studio, which offers a trio of needed services to brides and their wedding parties. Prior to opening their studio together late last year, Hill, Butler and Keeler met with wedding clients in a rented room, but the full studio allows them to expand their services and expose clients to each others' work. Though they specialize in weddings, they cater to an array of events. 

"We did a New Year's special," says Hill. "And through that, we ended up meeting two people who are getting married in the next year. Word spreads that way."

In addition to offering hair, makeup and photography services, Imagine Three Beauty Studio specializes in natural, organic, vegan and gluten-free products for clients with an interest or need in specialty hair products or makeup. They also plan to offer makeup and hair classes. In addition to the three sisters, the studio employs a client services coordinator, and Hill hopes to add another stylist and makeup artist in the near future. 

Source: Julie Hill, Imagine Three
Writer: Natalie Burg

Maize and Blue Deli plans second location on Main and Liberty

Fans of S. University's Maize and Blue Deli will have something new to cheer about on Main Street this spring. Coming in early March will be the longtime restaurant's second location on the other end of downtown. 

"We were trying to expand and we thought it was a great marketing opportunity to be right on Main Street," says Maize and Blue Deli's Hamsah Sukkar. "Honestly, it doesn't get better than Main and Liberty."

Work on the 1,600 square foot space has already begun. As the restaurant owners are starting with a completely empty space, there's much to do to transform a portion of the building once occupied by the Selo/Shevel Gallery into a deli. 

According to Sukkar, the deli will be very similar in both look and menu to the original Maize and Blue Deli location. He hopes the appeal of the locally-owned eatery will be as strong on Main Street as it has been on S. University.

"I'm a local, Ann Arbor resident trying to expand in my city, and hopefully we'll get some businesses supporting us," he says. "We're not a big franchise, so we're hoping to see a lot of local interest."

The new deli will seat between 50 and 55 diners and Sukkar estimates he will initially employ between five and 10 workers at the new restaurant. 

Source: Hamzah Sukkar, Maize and Blue Deli
Writer: Natalie Burg

Church-backed coffee shop and craft beer bar to open in Ypsilanti

Coming this spring, Ypsilanti residents and visitors will have a new place to sip a cup of joe, meet with like-minded people and fill up on craft beer, all thanks to a local church. Though churches and bars aren't typically in business together, the forthcoming Cultivate is set to break the mold. The social enterprise, backed by Grace Ann Arbor Church, will offer drinks, snacks and community connections, but not, says director Ryan Wallace, any type of agenda. 

"The church is the people. And the first thing that people are called to do is to create good in the world," says Wallace. "The whole point of this is how do we love our community?"

For Cultivate, creating good includes having a transparent business model and open books, as well as hosting community events, sourcing locally, creating a community garden, supporting clean water efforts worldwide and more. It also means offering patrons genuinely good products.

"The team we have gathered is obsessed with quality," Wallace says. "We want to make sure that we have the best service and products. They need to be excellent."

The public will be able to test that quality this spring. Now under renovations, the 2,400 square foot Depot Town location is set to open for coffee on May 1, with the bar operations to follow in the summer. Wallace estimates Cultivate will employ, in addition to its current three staff members, up to six part-time staff. Its web presence, including a website, Facebook and Instagram accounts, will launch this Friday. 

Source: Ryan Wallace, Cultivate 
Writer: Natalie Burg

Mother and daughter open Très Beau Salon in Manchester

After Manchester residents and mother-daughter duo Carrie Neff and Brianna Bulley had been working in the hair industry for a number of years, they decided it was time to branch out. This fall, just the right spot opened up for them in downtown Manchester. 

"It was the perfect opportunity and we went for it," says Bulley. "It's been great. We've been really busy."

Trés Beau Salon opened on Nov. 1 after about a month of renovation to the space. According to Bulley, the women modernized the space, exposing the building's brick walls and removing an old ceiling. Their stylish space reflects their philosophy on hairstyles. 

"We keep up on the trends and try to go to hair shows and classes to stay up-to-date with the newest techniques," Bulley says. "Education is really important to us."

With a busy clientele already, the women are already looking toward growth. In the short term, Bulley would like to hire another stylist in the next few months. Eventually, she hopes to add spa services to the growing salon. 

Source: Brianna Bulley, Trés Beau Salon
Writer: Natalie Burg

Blue Lion Fitness to open on Stadium Ave this spring

Ryan Van Bergen and Danny Roth both love fitness and Ann Arbor, so it's appropriate that the friends who met at the University of Michigan are now the co-owners of the forthcoming Blue Lion Fitness, a gym with a team-approach to working out. Their gym opens on W. Stadium Blvd. in early spring. 

"For us, working out, is so much more than getting to gym, putting your headphones on and doing your own thing. You can only get so far that way," says Roth. "What we're doing really brings people together and gets rid of that fear of trying anything new and pushes them to the extreme."

The class-oriented gym will offer one-hour team training sessions including high-intensity interval training, strength and conditioning, core strength training, suspension training and plyometric training.

Renovations to the 4,000 square foot facility have just begun, and will include a complete reconstruction of the space with top-of-the-line equipment and astroturf flooring. The partners expect construction to be complete by early February and to open the facility between mid-March and early April.

"In the fitness industry, location is key," says Van Bergen. "We think it will be highly visible and  centrally located from all the high schools. I also like cruising down Stadium and passing the Big House on my way to work."

Blue Lion Fitness will employ three reception staff and a gym manager in addition to Van Bergen and Roth as trainers. The business will also place a focus on community involvement, offering clients a free one-hour session for five hours of community service in a month.

Source: Ryan Van Bergen and Danny Roth, Blue Lion Fitness
Writer: Natalie Burg 

Local pharmacy to open in Downtown Ypsilanti storefront

Clark Pharmacy on Washtenaw Ave. in Ann Arbor has long taken a service-oriented approach to healthcare. The business delivers prescriptions to clients' homes or caretakers free of charge, and works with service organizations throughout Washtenaw County to extend services to low-income individuals. That approach has led to growth, which has prompted the opening of a new location in downtown Ypsilanti. 

"We ran a report and found that about 60 percent of our clients live in Ypsilanti," says pharmacist and co-owner Nathan Worthing. "We found it was a favored market from an investment standpoint as well."

That's why, for the last three to four months, Worthing and Ed Salamen, also a pharmacist and co-owner, have been working to renovate the former Angel Food Catering location in downtown Ypsilanti. The interior and exterior renovations have gutted and rebuilt the 4,000 square foot building, which had been vacant for a couple of years. The large amount of space, says Salamen, will be put to good use. 

"We are planning on expanding our services," he says. "We are in the works of making some business decisions to help make us more accessible to the community. It's a valued service we're providing.

The new Clark Pharmacy is set to open soon after the first of the year. The Ypsilanti location will initially employ two pharmacists, a technician and two drivers, and the owners plan to hire an additional technician to help with their expanded services. The pharmacy will be the business partners' third, as they also own a location in Wayne. 

Source: Nathan Worthing and Ed Salamen, Clark Pharmacy
Writer: Natalie Burg
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