Development News

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Neighborhood oriented Bake Me Crazy brings cookies and pizza to E. Madison

If there's such thing as the perfect resumé for a pizza and cookie bakery entrepreneur, Harold Solomon has it. He began his career working for a French bakery before spending a decade in research and development for Dominos, working for and being a franchisee for Cottage Inn and then bringing the Insomnia Cookie truck to town. Now, he's shed those big business names and has opened his very own twist on all of it: Bake Me Crazy on E. Madison. 

"I liked the Insomnia Cookie concept, but I'm a pizza guy," Solomon says. "We're, in effect, complicating their business model with other items we think people would like delivered." 

Though the menu is still under development, that will include pastries, shakes, lunches, breakfast sandwiches, and, of course, pizza. Both with his full pizzas and the pizza by the slice he sells now, he plans to follow through on the "crazy" part of his company name with such pies as pot roast pizza, spaghetti and meatball pizza, Asian fusion pizza and more. 

Solomon's experience in the food industry has taught him the importance of a good, long slow opening, during which he can perfect his menu and get everything up to snuff. He's been quietly serving to residents and workers in his neighborhood for a couple of months now, but is looking forward to a big roll out soon. 

"We're almost there now, at the final menu stage" he says. "I'm thinking a couple of weeks." 

Bake Me Crazy currently employs a staff of four in the 900 square foot location near the corner of Main and Madison. As his delivery services and grand opening gets underway, Solomon estimates he'll employ between 10 and 20 workers. 

Source: Harold Solomon, Bake Me Crazy
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Milan pharmacy extends a more personal touch

After opening the Saline Pharmacy three years ago, Ziad Ghamraoui started hearing that his brand of customer-focused pharmacy services were in demand elsewhere as well. 

"A lot of doctors and patients were very happy with us, and a lot of Milan residents told us if we moved closer to Milan they'd give us more business," Ghamraoui says, "because we help bridge the gap in healthcare."

Ghamraoui met that demand, opening Little Pharmacy in Milan about two weeks ago. Like the Saline Pharmacy, he plans to serve customers in a variety of ways, including carrying over-the-counter medications as cheaply as possible, helping those who struggle to meet their copays, allowing people to pay with store accounts when their cash flow is short and more. 

"Brand names can be expensive," Ghamraoui he says. "We get them coupons so we can save them on their copays. We want to make sure people get their prescriptions and make sure they're on the road to health with no restrictions whatsoever."

Little Pharmacy currently occupies about 1,600 square feet of a 2,500 square foot space on Dexter Rd. in Milan. Ghamraoui has hired two employees to manage the new business. 

Source: Ziad Ghamraoui, Little Pharmacy
Writer: Natalie Burg

Original Moxie expands haircare business into Ypsi storefront

It all started because Ypsilanti resident and landscape architect Rachel Blistein wasn't satisfied with the hair product options she found in stores. She wanted something natural, but also needed the quality and complexity of the products sold in salons. So she started experimenting with making her own.

"I was doing a no-foam shampoo, and after about a year I was connected with a stylist who was willing to try out my products on her clients," Blistein says. "Then, by word of mouth, I got into Plum Market in Ann Arbor." 

Now, that experiment has grown to a full-scale haircare manufacturing and retail business, Original Moxie. And because it just won't stop growing, Blistein is now moving the business from her home into a downtown Ypsilanti storefront. 

"We found places way out in no man's land, but they had no connections to pedestrian traffic," she says. "I had my eyes on this space, and I didn't even know they had manufacturing space in the back. Then it came up for lease, and everything just sort of came together unexpectedly."

Blistein aims to open the 1,800 square foot retail and manufacturing space by Black Friday. In addition to growing into the new space, Original Moxie has grown in staff as well. First run entirely by Blistein alone when it all started five years ago, she now works with two employees, two freelancers, and, should the retail end of the new storefront demand it, she'll add another employee as well. 

With her proximity to the Ypsilanti Coop and her own business's commitment to sustainability, she hopes to partner on events and initiatives in the future. 

Source: Rachel Blistein, Original Moxie
Writer: Natalie Burg

Groovy Hopster Farm to feed craft brew industry with local, organic hops

Just when it seemed Michigan entrepreneurs had found every way to be involved in the regional craft brew movement, Louis Breskman found another: hops farming. The University of Michigan MBA already runs real estate and manufacturing businesses and was looking for a way to expand into agriculture that would be unique to Michigan. The answer was Groovy Hopster Farm.

"Michigan has one of the most exciting craft brew industries in the nation, and I wanted to find a way to enter this growing market segment in a way that I could support the industry and not just be another competitor," Breskman says. "Ann Arbor itself has a successful micro brewing scene and it made sense for there to be a local source of hops so that the Ann Arbor breweries could produce a product that was truly unique to the area."  

Breskman found that small local brewers have a need for new sources of hops, something his boutique hop farm, slated to produce its first harvest in the summer of 2015, could provide. He plans to grow varieties that are in demand in the local market, and remain flexible to continue to meet local brewers' needs. 

"Our long term plans are to establish ourselves as an integral part of the supply chain to the local brewing industry," he says. "As a local farm we plan to be able to deliver hops to our local customers with a minimal carbon footprint."

Groovy Hopster Farm will soon launch a Indigogo campaign to help with the business' startup costs. Breskman plans to hire two full-time employees to manage the farm and additional employees during their harvest.

Source: Louis Breskman, Groovy Hopster Farm
Writer: Natalie Burg

Dexter gets new Sushi Time restaurant

Until recently, when anyone from Dexter wanted to dine in a fresh sushi restaurant, they had to drive to Ann Arbor. Now, they only have to zip over to Dexter Plaza on Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd. to Sushi Time, which was opened about four weeks ago by long-time sushi chef Min Kang. 

"So many of my friends said Dexter is a nice place where many people like sushi," Kang says. "Then, I found a good place here." 

Sushi Time offers both dine-in seating for about 30 customers, as well as carryout. Kang says the restaurant's specialties are their signature rolls, which include the Dexter roll, Chelsea roll and the Lemon Wedge roll. 

"We have some plans to make more special rolls, and more appetizers," says Kang, "We have a lot of things to do, and it's getting busy." 

Kang has worked as a sushi chef in the area for 14 years, and recently decided it was time to start his own restaurant. Sushi Time is a family business, employing himself and his wife, as well as about three additional employees. 

Source: Min Kang, Sushi Time
Writer: Natalie Burg

Collier Financial opens Ann Arbor office

In January, Collier Financial will celebrate 25 years in business in Fort Wayne, but here in Ann Arbor, they'll be fresh off the heels of another celebration: establishing a new office. Though Caleb Collier has been living in Ann Arbor and serving clients of his family's business here for several years, the new, 1,200 square foot office on E. Eisenhower will give the growing financial services company a permanent presence in the area. 

"The office space is beautiful. The back offices have floor-to-ceiling windows," Collier says. "I was going back and forth between downtown and Eisenhower, but I ended up here, because for those clients in Chelsea, Dexter or even in Novi, this would be easier access for them."

The new Collier Financial office opened on Sept. 22. Collier has already hired one new support staff member and plans to hire another financial adviser and two more support staff employees. 

"My goal is to become a recognizable name in the financial services industry here," says Collier. "What we do is unique to some of the national brokerage houses. We have a different approach, and for some folks, it's really what they're looking for."

The Ann Arbor office comes at a time of growth in general for Collier Financial. The family business has recently purchased and extensively renovated a building in Fort Wayne and will soon be moving their headquarters into the much larger location. 

Source: Caleb Collier, Collier Financial
Writer: Natalie Burg

Manchester mom to inspire others into healthy living with The Distance gym

After having three kids in four years, Sarah Andrews wanted nothing more than to be able to keep up with them. In order to do so, she knew she had to start focusing on her physical fitness. What she learned during her quest to get into better shape, is that getting healthy isn't about reaching a goal weight, but about lifestyle change. That is what she hopes to teach her clients next year when opening her own gym, The Distance, in Manchester. 

"If you have a goal to live a better life, weight loss is going to happen," says Andrews. "If weight loss is your focus, it's so easy to get derailed. My purpose is to give [clients] ta focus on being healthy and training for life, not training for a size or number on the scale."

Andrews will open The Distance in an approximately 1,500 square foot space on Main Street in Manchester. It is a part of the building her husband's business Andrews Family Chiropractic, will soon occupy as well. She will teach bootcamp-style classes and will eventually expand into a variety of fitness courses. 

"They'll get a full body workout, all in one hour with different stations that will be customizable for each person," Andrews says. "You can be standing next to an elite athlete on side of you and a grandma on the other side, and all of you will get the best workout for yourselves."

Andrews hopes to open The Distance as soon after the first of the year as possible to help clients tackle their New Years' fitness goals from the get-go. She plans to grow her business over the next two years, with plans to bring on three to five additional instructors to offer additional fitness classes.

Source: Sarah Andrews, The Distance
Writer: Natalie Burg

Local fitness and tennis coach rallies support for new FitLife gym

Dominika Wozniak has already had a pretty impressive career, including playing tennis both in college and professionally, as well as being a tennis coach and personal trainer. Now, she's planning to add "business owner" to that list of titles with her own gym, FitLife. 

"I did a lot of independent training in the past," she says. "I just rented a gym and ran my class in different locations. Now I feel like I have a pretty good base of clients and want to spread the word to come and joint the studio."

Wozniak plans to open her fitness studio in a 3,500 square foot space near State St. in Ann Arbor, but first, she's planning to raise part of the funds to launch FitLife through the crowdfunding website Indigogo. Because she requires such a large space and commercial property can be difficult to come by locally, she's hoping her campaign will prove her business's viability to her prospective landlord. 

As far as plans for the business itself, she has a clear vision of what she's hoping to create.

"We want to do group classes, and we'll have a separate area for personal training. Or they can do a buddy session where two people share one training session," says Wozniak. "Variety is key. I want to make sure the people who are coming to class, can pick what would make them happy."

Though the campaign will run for 30 more days, Wozniak hopes to move as quickly as possible to open FitLife. She hopes to open in January, and plans to employ a minimum of five trainers at the facility. 

Source: Dominika Wozniak, FitLife
Writer: Natalie Burg

Manchester chiropractic office to double in size with early 2015 move

Though Andrews Family Chiropractic's upcoming move in Manchester won't be a far one, it's been a long time coming — and will be a dramatic jump in size for the clinic. 

"When I first came to town in the beginning of 2007, there was a building across the street from me that I've always looked at and thought, 'That is an awesome building,'" says Andrews Family Chiropractic owner Dr. Dana Andrews. 

Soon, that awesome building will be the new home of his office, doubling his current space, thanks to the current tenant moving out. 

"I'll be able to mange my clients and patients a lot better having more space," says Andrews. "We'll have a nice, big waiting area so people aren't standing and waiting."

Andrews has significant renovations planed for the space, which will include the creation of a private office, exam room, two adjustment rooms, an x-ray room and two massage therapy rooms. In addition to his current massage therapist, he plans to hire another massage therapist, and the increased space will allow him to add an associate to his practice in the future. He plans to complete renovations and open in the new location in February. 

Source: Dana Andrews, Andrews Family Chiropractic
Writer: Natalie Burg

Midwestern Consulting continues growth spurt with four new jobs

The fact that residential and commercial development is on the rise is good news for a lot of folks, but perhaps few more than Midwestern Consulting, an engineering services firm. Though their staff dipped to 32 employees during the recession, that number has risen to 55 over the last 24 months, including four newly added positions. 

"The residential and commercial development is up about 40 percent of what it was last year," says Scott Betzoldt, a partner with Midwest Consulting. "These people we've added are directly involved in residential and commercial development."

Midwestern Consulting has provided engineering services such as civil, environmental and transportation engineering, as well as surveying, planning, information technology and landscape architecture to both private and public clients since 1967. The new positions include  a senior project manager, project engineer, project landscape architect, and engineering and ACAD Technician. Between them the four new employees have more than 60 years of experience in their fields — they don't represent the end of the Ann Arbor firm's growth. 

"We would like to increase our client base in Washtenaw County and Southeast Michigan and try to return to what we were before 2005 and 2006," says Betzoldt, referring to the company's pre-recession staff of 85, "and at that point, we'll then consider branching out into other parts of the state." 

Source: Scott Betzoldt, Midwestern Consulting
Writer: Natalie Burg

At Home celebrates new, 91,000 sq ft Ypsilanti location, 20 new jobs

Homes throughout the Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor area now have the opportunity to look more chic for less money. At Home, a Texas-based home decorating retail chain with 77 stores across the U.S. has opened its latest store on Washtenaw Ave. in Ypsilanti. 

"At Home has a significant growth strategy in place and we saw a great opportunity to expand into Ypsilanti to continue to increase our share of the home decor market," says Director of Public Relations and Corporate Communications for At Home, Stacey Sullivan. The Company also operates stores in Dearborn, Jenison, Kalamazoo and Utica, Michigan, which has enabled us to really get to know and understand the market."

The 91,000 square foot former Kmart location has been renovated and At Home celebrated a grand opening on Oct. 3. According to Sullivan, the store is known as a place customers come to shop for home decor items, as well as be inspired with new ideas. She says the average customer spends two hours in At Home. 
"At Home also has an expansion selection of holiday and seasonal products," Sullivan says. "We believe we occupy a unique niche of the home decor industry providing unmatched breath of traditional and trend-driven merchandising options for every style at accessible price points."

Along with low prices on home decor items, At Home brings 20 new jobs with it to Ypsilanti. Being the 77th new location still makes the Ypsilanti store an early addition to the growing company. At Home aims to grow into to 600 locations.

Source: Stacey Sullivan, 

Mota Thai Yoga transitions from private practice to public studio

It used to be, the only way to benefit from Luiz Mota's Thai massage and yoga therapy was to either know him, or be referred by a current client. In fact, that's how he got his start, simply by working on fellow martial arts competitors in his early 20s. But the growth of his clientele and their demand for more access to his services has led to Mota Thai Yoga expanding into class offerings and opening to the public. 

"I've always been word of mouth," says Mota. "But the more clients I had the more it has been them demanding more."

Mota Thai Yoga's transition has been gradual, beginning with Mota's move to an 1,100 square foot studio on W. Huron about a year and a half ago. After slowly adding more offerings, he has now hired an additional instructor and declaring his studio open to the public. 

Mota says Thai yoga therapy means something different to different practitioners. He offers it as as an assisted yoga practice that helps clients with injuries, illnesses or physical disabilities. Though he has long offered this and Thai massage, he now offers classes in aerial yoga therapy, other yoga types, small group yoga therapy and male ballet class. 

"I'm all about anatomy," says Mota, who is also a certified mortician. "I'm about the energy work too, but I take it to a whole different level. Even after my clients leave, I'm still researching their injury."

With the recent hiring of a new instructor, he hopes to soon offer mediation classes as well. Mota's goals are to continue to work with more clients and help them work through their injuries. He plans to hire additional instructors in the future. 

Source: Luiz Mota, Mota Thai Yoga
Writer: Natalie Burg

Blimpy Burger reopens with more seats, new jobs and same legendary burgers

It's been about 13 months since the Ann Arbor landmark Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger closed it's doors, and burger lovers can once again breathe easy: Blimpy Burger is back. The business reopened last week in its new location on Ashely. 

"So far, I've seen a lot of familiar faces," says Emily Magner, whose family owns Blimpy Burger. And the customers weren't the only familiar part of the shop's reopening. "We were able to replicate the Blimpy experience and the ordering experience that makes us so unique."

Though the burgers, diners and experience may be picking up right where they left off, one change in the new Blimpy Burger location is additional seating. With seats for more than 50 diners, they're up between 10 to 15 seats from the original location. As early as Monday of last week, financial supporters of the restaurant's new space were treated to sneak preview dining experience that Magner says was well deserved. 

"They were the key to us being here today," she says. "Not only did they support us in just helping with our morale, but they gave us incentive to make this happen."

Though still hiring and training employees Magner estimates the new Blimpy Burger will employ about 20 workers. She says though getting up and running is their first goal — the restaurant is currently operating on limited hours — long term goals for the business could include adding a catering component. 

Source: Emily Magner, Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger
Writer: Natalie Burg

Beezy's Cafe to expand downtown Ypsilanti operations into dinnertime

People just can't get enough of Beezy's Cafe in downtown Ypsilanti. The nearly six-year-old restaurant has both customers who want access to their meals a later hours, and employees looking for a new challenge. To accommodate both, owner Bee Roll has decided to expand her hours on Fridays and Saturdays and add a dinner menu. 

"The Beezy's focus of simple, honest food remains the cornerstone of the menu philosophy," says Roll. "Big bonus for a lot of folks will be the ability to get breakfast for dinner too. We currently only serve breakfast entrees until 2 pm daily. On Friday and Saturday, breakfast will be nonstop. Late risers, rejoice!"

For those without a hankering for breakfast at dinnertime, the new hours will include such hearty dinner dishes as pot pies, tuna noodle casserole and lasagna. Despite new hours and new foods, however, the cafe will remain the same physically, retaining its cozy, eclectic seating arrangement and self-service areas. 

"It's intentionally designed for people to literally bump into each and promote interaction and conversation, community," Roll says. 

There are more growth opportunities for Beezy's on the horizon as well. Roll hopes to soon launch a "plate club," in which customers would have their own vintage plate that lives at the restaurant, and she also plans to expand both her catering services and retail offerings. 

Source: Bee Roll, Beezy's Cafe
Writer: Natalie Burg

Brookie's Cafe serves up affordable food in Ypsilanti

College students don't always have a lot of spare money sitting around for food, but that won't be a problem at the new Brookie's Cafe on Washtenaw Ave. near Eastern's campus. 

"What I'm trying to do is target the college students who want pretty decent food for pretty good prices," says manager Echo DaShuane.

Students and Ypsilanti residents alike will find chicken, chili dogs, burger, cupcakes, cookies and more at the cafe, which opened last week in a storefront that sits about 13 diners and offers takeout. What foods and events Brookie's Cafe offers could evolve as well, as DaShuane says she's open to new ideas. 

"I'm making a suggestion box because a lot of college students have been coming in with suggestions," she says. "It s a fun, friendly atmosphere here."

Brookie's Cafe currently operates with a staff of six. DaShuane says the business is looking to hire additional staff and grow along with their clientele. 

Source: Echo DaShuane, Brookie's Cafe
Writer: Natalie Burg
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