Dining / Food :Development News

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Growing Hope launches affordable rental venue and incubator kitchen, announces new director

Growing Hope has expanded its mission of improving access to healthy food by creating an affordable rental space in downtown Ypsi, complete with a licensed incubator kitchen that can be rented by small food businesses.

 

The new space is inside Growing Hope's Robert C. Barnes Sr. MarketPlace Hall at the Ypsi Farmers Market, 16 S. Washington St. The new space was announced at about the same time Growing Hope's new executive director, Cynthia VanRenterghem, came on board. Founding director Amanda Edmonds retired from the nonprofit at the end of 2017, and Renterghem came on board May 29.

 

The hall is named after the head of the family-owned Barnes & Barnes property management business in Ypsilanti, who rented the South Washington space and later sold the two lots that now house the Tuesday farmers market and the rental venue to Growing Hope.

 

The hall has been remodeled so the entrance faces the existing farmers market plaza space, but a few more changes are yet to come. Administrative offices will be moved out of the back of the hall to create more storage space for food businesses, and the small building at the front of the lot, a former KeyBank drive-thru location, will become Growing Hope's Welcome Center.

 

The MarketPlace Hall will be able to seat 105 or accommodate 166 for a standing reception. The outdoor plaza where the farmers market is held can also be used as outdoor space when the venue is rented, and the building includes a conference room and a commercial kitchen that became fully licensed the first week of June.

 

Prices will range from $75-$125 per hour from November to March and $100-$150 per hour for the rest of the year.

 

Kristen Teasdale, Growing Hope's interim director of engagement, says the organization's staff did a lot of research on market rates to make sure the space was affordable. Rates will also be lower for those using the space for a series of events or for food tenants who use the commercial kitchen multiple times a week. That structure is meant to encourage Ypsi residents to use it as a community gathering place.

 

Getting the new rental space finalized is important, but VanRenterghem says she is eager to return to the organization's original focus: its urban garden that began as a teaching garden for Perry Childhood Development Center.

 

VanRenterghem is originally from Flint, though she spent about a decade out of the state. She ran a small garden products company with a partner, which was launched in 2007 and sold in 2015. She hopes to bring her business savvy and entrepreneurial mindset to Growing Hope.

 

"At this time in Growing Hope's life development, my focus will be on operations, financial management and people management, and strategic planning, as we're moving from more of a relationship-based organization to more of a mission-based foundation," she says, referring to the fact that many nonprofits are started by charismatic people who grow the organization by creating personal relationships.

 

Van Renterghem says Growing Hope's urban farm at 922 W. Michigan Ave. is still the organization's "center of gravity."

 

"Once we get the MarketPlace up and running, I want to shift back to that core and what can come out of it in terms of education and community access, … empowering the community with both the practical aspects and the regeneration aspects of gardening," she says. "To me, in a way, as we move forward, we are also getting back to what Growing Hope has always been."

 

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in southeast Michigan. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

 

Photos by Sarah Rigg.


Chelsea Alehouse to move to downtown Chelsea, expand brewpub offerings

The owners of Chelsea Alehouse Brewery will be moving into the heart of downtown Chelsea this spring and changing their business model to emphasize a variety of new offerings in their brewpub.

 

Chris Martinson, who owns the business with his wife Aubrey, says the public space in the new location at 115 S. Main in Chelsea is about the same as in the current location at 420. N. Main St., Suite 100. However, the move will provide about 30 percent more non-public space. That will allow Chelsea Alehouse to expand its kitchen and provide a more diverse menu.

 

The new customer space will also feel "cozier," Martinson says, with hardwood floors and exposed brick giving it more of a pub feel than the current location's warehouse atmosphere.

 

Martinson says he had always wanted to be downtown, but it didn't work out six years ago when he was establishing the business.

 

"Chelsea has a really busy downtown, and we're only a five-minute walk from downtown, but we find that people who might be downtown for the farmer's market don't venture down to where we are," Martinson says.

 

The new location is across the street from the Common Grill and shares a back parking lot with the Purple Rose Theatre. Martinson says he expects that being "right in the mix" downtown will attract new walk-in business.

 

With the five-year lease on the brewery's current space running out, Martinson says it made sense to move and make some operational changes the Martinsons had been planning all at the same time, including switching from a microbrewery license to a brewpub license. That change reflects a lower legal limit to the brewery's production volume, and prioritizes on-site business over distribution.

 

"We will still make our own beers that people love and come in for, but we'll also have beers on tap from other breweries, along with wine and cider and spirits," Martinson says. "We really want to expand what we do with beer education and be able to bring in different beers and do more tastings."

 

Those tastings will focus on Michigan and regional breweries, which is in line with Chelsea Alehouse's core mission to focus on local ingredients when possible, Martinson says.

 

"We want to have events that highlight how beer is made and the different styles," he says. "We could bring in maybe a variety of lagers or New England-style IPAs from five different breweries for a tasting."

 

Live music by local musicians will continue at the new location, with bluegrass band Thunderwüde performing on Wednesdays and jazz on Sundays, but Martinson also thinks the new space might lend itself to experimenting with different types of music.

 

The current location will close in late February, and the owners are aiming to open the new space sometime in April, after remodeling is finished.

 

Updates will be available on the brewery's website and Facebook page.

 

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.


Photo by Doug Coombe.

Babo, Tiny Buddha Yoga expand brands from Ann Arbor into Ypsilanti

Ypsilanti's Depot Town will welcome two new Ann Arbor transplants next month, when specialty market Babo and Tiny Buddha Yoga move into the former Fantasy Attic costume store.

The new location is expected to open Friday, April 7 at 19 E. Cross St. Sava Lelcaj, owner of Babo as well as Sava's restaurant and other food businesses under the Savco Hospitality brand, says the Ypsi location will serve as a "sanctuary for locals and students seeking health and wellness." Customers can pick up "grab and go" health foods and cold-pressed juices or take a yoga class.

"Tiny Buddha Yoga will have a yoga studio and retail space for yoga gear and clothing, and we'll have a shared meditation space where all are welcome to come and relax and find balance," Lelcaj says.

Lelcaj is the business brains behind five food-related businesses that have so far all been located in Ann Arbor. She says that when Tiny Buddha Yoga owner Risa Gotlib found an ideal studio space in Depot Town, it opened up an opportunity for both businesses.

"It seemed the perfect opportunity for collaboration with this like-minded brand, to build something meaningful together in the heart of Ypsilanti," Lelcaj says.

The announcement of the move has drawn mixed reactions on social media and in the Metro Times, with some expressing concerns that the introduction of the two businesses in Ypsilanti is part of a trend toward gentrification.

Lelcaj isn't commenting on the naysayers. She says she's always evolving her business model and plans to adapt to the Ypsilanti market. She and her employees have been handing out free cold-pressed juices in Depot Town to build excitement for the opening of the businesses.

"This model will be very different from our former market model but will remain tried and true to our health food grab-and-go model," she says. "We are reaching out to the local community about their needs, but really we will learn how to cater to the community because we plan to become a part of the community."

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Café Ollie to relaunch and expand with fine dining and craft cocktails

The owners of Ypsilanti's Café Ollie have closed their popular Depot Town restaurant and ice cream spot to make way for two new ventures: a craft cocktail bar and fine-dining restaurant in the former café space, and a café and bakery coming to the storefront next door.

Mark Teachout, who opened the café six years ago with his wife Danielle, says the changes suit the Teachouts' "very broad concept" for the business.

"It just makes sense to separate and split into two separate entities, albeit side-by-side," he says.

Teachout says the new restaurant, simply called "Ollie," will help fill the gap for an "affordable, unpretentious fine-dining experience" in Ypsi.

"I see a real opening for a cozy place, where you can get great food and a stiff drink and actually hold a conversation," he says. "Boozy breakfast [and] brunch will also be our focus."

Classic cocktails will be a staple for Ollie, with an emphasis on Michigan-made spirits, but the restaurant will also continue serving Michigan beers and wines that will rotate seasonally.

Chef Travis Schuster (formerly of Spencer and Corner Brewery) is handling the food menu, which will also have a seasonal, local focus. Established favorites like mac and cheese aren't going anywhere, but Schuster also plans to bring in lots of fresh, local ingredients and special dinner and brunch surprises.

The café and bakery space next door, dubbed the Cream and Crumb, will offer the ice cream, coffee, and scones Café Ollie has been known for since opening. Zingerman's Bakehouse breads and sweets will also be available and Teachout plans to host live music in the space.

Café Ollie had been listed for sale about a year ago because of Teachout's degenerative arthritis, but he and his wife changed their minds about selling after his health improved last fall.

"The café was doing well, but we knew that in order to grow the business, I would have to be well also," he says. "Long story short: I got on some better meds, and we turned down the offers we had on the business, and here we are."

The owners hope to get the new businesses open by mid-March, and Teachout is optimistic about how people will respond.

"There is a perception that Ypsi is solely a 'shot and a beer' town — no wine, nothing challenging in a culinary sense — and that reflects how people in this industry invest," he says. "It takes a lot of money to open a place, and if you miscalculate you lose. So folks stick to tried and true. But I believe that Ypsi is a place where people have more diversity of thought, and I'm confident in our future."
 
Eric Gallippo is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.

BTB Cantina goes farm-to-table with new taco menu

Ann Arbor's newest farm-to-table restaurant is already a familiar name for many students and townies: BTB Cantina.

The casual Mexican restaurant, bar, and dance venue reopened last week with a new menu and an updated look from Ann Arbor's Synecdoche Design Studio.

Perhaps the biggest shift for the popular student hangout is the retooled menu, which features numerous locally sourced ingredients including products from Chelsea's Tantré Farm, Ann Arbor Seed Company, Milan's Wasem Fruit Farm, and more. The menu was developed with the help of James Beard Award-nominated chef Magdiale Wolmark. Cantina partner Adam Lowenstein met Wolmark, who moved to the area last year, through a family member whose kids attend the same school as the chef's.

"She introduced us just as two people in the restaurant industry," Lowenstein says. "[Wolmark] had recently moved from Columbus, and she thought we should meet, and we hit it off."

A successful pop-up dinner the Cantina hosted with Wolmark over the summer inspired further collaboration with the chef, whose background in farm-to-table dining helped shape the new concept.

"That jump started the conversation about incorporating some of those changes into Cantina's regular menu," Lowenstein says. "Taco-focused, local sourcing, et cetera. Also, our best and biggest day has always been Taco Tuesday, so we wanted to build on that, too."

Lowenstein also owns the Last Word and student favorites BTB Burrito and Good Time Charley's with business partner Justin Herrick. He says says the menu change at Cantina was also driven by student interest.

"We're always going to be a casual place, so we're not changing that, and students love great tacos," Lowenstein says. "And we want our companies to always stand for value, which Cantina still does.

"As far as farm-to-table, it's something we believe in that's good for the community, the planet, and the quality of the ingredients is just better. But that's really behind the scenes. We want the tacos to stand on their own."

There are no plans at this time to make similar moves at BTB Burrito, which Lowenstein says has been successful for the last 13 years, has a great niche, and "will always have burritos at 4 a.m."

"We aren't going to change anything that doesn't make sense," he says. "At the same time, working with Magdiale's approach to cooking has opened our eyes to some new possibilities, so if something pops out that would translate well to BTB, we're open to it."

Eric Gallippo is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.
 

Beezy's to open café at Ypsi District Library's Whittaker Road branch

Popular Ypsilanti eatery Beezy's Café will expand its business into Ypsilanti District Library's (YDL) Whittaker Road location next week, as Beezy's takes over operations of the library's vacant café space.

Starting Jan. 9, Beezy's Library Café will offer coffee, tea, and cold bottled beverages, as well as snacks and lunch options including the freshly made soups and sandwiches patrons are used to getting at Beezy's main location in downtown Ypsi. Seasonal items, like smoothies, could be added later.

Since adding the café space in 2008, YDL has contracted local businesses to run it — first Primo Coffee and then B-24's Espresso Bar, which left in October. Library spokesperson Gillian Ream Gainsley says generating enough customers can be a challenge.

"We have around 6,000 visitors a week [at YDL-Whittaker], but most of them are not here for coffee and, of course, it is much lower traffic than you'd get in downtown Ypsilanti," she says.

But she thinks Beezy's reputation outside the library will help make it a destination.

"Beezy's has a real regional draw," she says. "I know people from metro Detroit who make a special trip to Beezy's whenever they are in Washtenaw County. I think Beezy's at the library will attract people who work nearby and just want to stop in for lunch."

Gainsley says Beezy's success as a homegrown business serving high-quality food make it a great partner for the library. The café will also keep hours that more closely mirror the library's than previous tenants had.

"We have people here all hours of the day, whether they are working on projects or bringing their kids to a program or applying for jobs," Gainsley says. "The fact that library patrons can rely on being able to grab a snack or coffee anytime without needing to leave the library really adds to the level of service that we offer."

Beezy's motto of "simple, honest food" also fits well with YDL programs aimed at promoting nutrition, Gainsley says, including gardens at two locations, cooking classes for teens and tweens, a seed library, and free lunches for kids in the summer.

"We believe in supporting the health of our community, and one way to do this is increasing awareness and access to fresh foods," she says. "It's great to have a café that shares that philosophy."

The library café follows another big move for Beezy's, which recently expanded its catering and banquet business into the building across the street from its North Washington Street home.

Café hours are 9 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Eric Gallippo is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.

McShane's Pub opens second location in Ypsilanti

Bob Roberts and Sean McShane enjoyed spending their football Sundays at the Roundtree Bar & Grill. They became regulars and then they became owners, taking over pub at 2203 Ellsworth earlier this year. They changed the name to McShane’s Irish Pub & Whiskey Bar last month.

"The first thing that attracted us to the place was the people," Roberts says. "We have a great group of regulars."

Roberts and McShane, along with Ryan McShane, own a McShane's Irish Pub & Whiskey Bar in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood near the old Tiger Stadium site. They opened the new location in Ypsilanti with the idea of recreating that same atmosphere in Washetenaw County.

The New McShane's has a bar, restaurant and charity poker room. It can seat up 180 people an d employs 18 people. It's location near U.S. 23 was attractive because there is not a lot of competition nearby, the closest being downtown Ypsilanti just to the north. The central location by the highway also makes it easily accessible to a broad range of people.

"You can get to us from pretty much any location," Roberts says.

Source: Bob Roberts, co-owner of McShane’s Irish Pub & Whiskey Bar
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Zingerman's opens The Greyline in downtown Ann Arbor

Zingerman's is moving forward on plans to build out a special events venue in downtown Ann Arbor called The Greyline.
The 5,000-square-foot space will occupy the first floor of the new Marriott Residence Inn at the corner of Huron and Ashley streets and serve as headquarters for Zingerman's growing catering services.

"It's going to be gorgeous," says Grace Singleton, managing partner of Zingerman's Delicatessen. "With the old bus depot facade and glass turret and all of the glass facing the sidewalk."

There has been a significant demand for Zingerman's to cater its culinary creations for years. Zingerman's Delicatessen, which operates the catering service, took over the old Eve restaurant in Kerrytown in 2011 to help meet the catering demand with better service.

"We cater all over southeast Michigan," Singleton says, adding that equals a lot of schlepping stuff everywhere. "We realized we could do a better job of it we had our own space."

Zingerman's catering doubled its business by its second year and then doubled it again by its third year. That meant it needed to find a bigger, more centralized space. The new Marriott Residence Inn’s commercial space proved too good of an opportunity to pass up to create The Greyline.

The Zingerman's team plans to make The Greyline a versatile urban venue available for private events, meetings, and training sessions operated exclusively by Zingerman's Catering and Events. It will have its own street entrance to the building, and it will also have access to the venue from the lobby of the hotel. About two thirds of its square footage will be utilized for events.

"The size is perfect for what we need," Singleton says. "It will have a large, full kitchen that will allow us to cook very specific menus for this space, things that are currently too much of a challenge to do at an offsite event."

Source: Grace Singleton, managing partner of Zingerman’s Delicatessen
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Arbor Brewing Co debuts "gastro street fare" in renovated brewpub

Arbor Brewing Co is not only showing off its newly renovated space in downtown Ann Arbor, but also an eclectic new menu to go with it. Rene Greff, who co-owns Arbor Brewing Co with her husband Matt Greff, describes the new menu as "gastro street fare," that emphasizes fresh, locally sourced food made from scratch. Think everything from vegetarian dishes to burgers to shared plates to a selection of French fries.

"The most decadent one is fries fried in duck fat," Rene Greff says.

Arbor Brewing Co recently turned 20 years old and celebrated by renovating its downtown Ann Arbor brewpub after the holidays ended. The project includes a revamped bar, dining room seating, entryway, kitchen, and bathrooms.

The overall theme is to modernize the facilities and make it more accessible. The entryway was reconfigured so the door is on the side of the entry vestibule. The bar was redesigned into a U shape by removing a faux wall behind the existing bar, opening it up to more seating and more room for people to navigate the dinning area.

"We are 98 percent done," Rene Greff says. "We are waiting for our new stools to arrive and a few other things like that."

Source: Rene Greff, co-owner of Arbor Brewing Co
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

U-M alumni put mustard on nostalgia with new Pretzel Bell restaurant

Nostalgia is in the air in downtown Ann Arbor and soon it will be served hot on plate with a side of delicious when Pretzel Bell returns to the center of Tree Town.

Three University of Michigan alumni are resurrecting the storied restaurant from the mid 20th Century in the old Lena space at the corner of Main and Liberty streets. The trio want to bring back their memories of what the restaurant was like when they graduated from U-M in the 1950s-60s-70s.

"It's going to be a throwback restaurant," says Jon Carlson, manager & owner of Pretzel Bell. "It's going to have a feeling of a restaurant from the 1960s and 1970s."

The new Pretzel Bell will occupy 8,000 square feet of space that housed the Latin-inspired Lena and Habana, both of which are supposed to close after this weekend. Carlson declined to elaborate too much on what the new/old restaurant will look like or what the menu will taste like, but he he did says it will draw upon Ann Arbor's past and its close proximity to the University of Michigan and its athletic heritage.

"It (the old Pretzel Bell) has an amazing feel at the time," Carlson says. "It has a huge connection to the university and the city."

The new space will have room for 240 seats. The new restaurant is set to open this spring, and Carlson plans to release more details about it within the next month.

Source: Jon Carlson, manager & owner of Pretzel Bell.
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Ann Arbor Distilling Co opens doors in downtown Ann Arbor

Patrons began walking into the newly opened Ann Arbor Distilling Co's tasting room in downtown Ann Arbor a few days ago and Rob Cleveland hopes they notice one thing, the combination of industrial and rural aesthetics.

"We're industrial meets farm," says Cleveland, managing director of the micro distillery. "It's a turn-of-the-century building. It has a lot of brick and concrete. It's a very robust building. We also built out the building with wood from Urban Ashes and Recycle Ann Arbor that was salvaged."

Cleveland and Ari Susssman have been working on opening the craft distillery for the last two years. It is located at 220 Felch in the same building as Icon Interactive, a digital marketing agency Cleveland serves as the founder & CEO. Cleveland and Sussman saw a demand for locally made craft cocktails in downtown after watching decades of success from local craft brewers.

Ann Arbor Distilling Co is currently selling bottles of its vodka, gin and rum cocktails or serving cocktails made of those liquors in its tasting room. It is also working on making its own whiskey and bourbons, liquors that traditionally take years to distill.

"We are also looking at having apply brandy in the not-too-distant future," Cleveland says.

The craft distillery held a soft opening last Saturday and opened its doors to the public yesterday.  Its tasting room encompasses 1,000 square feet and has a capacity of 35 people. It has another 5,000 square feet of production space that can produce up to 60,000 gallons of liquor annually. Cleveland expects to start distributing Ann Arbor Distilling Co's liquors by the bottle in local retailers by second quarter of next year.

Source: Rob Cleveland, managing director of Ann Arbor Distilling Co
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

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

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
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