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Dearborn farmers market changes time and place to better serve customers

Though in its eleventh season, the Dearborn Farmers & Artisans Market isn’t afraid to make a few fundamental changes to better serve its community. And those changes, both to the market’s time and location, come from the community itself.

The Dearborn Farmers & Artisans Market kicked off the 2018 season at its new time and place on Friday, June 1. The market remains on Fridays throughout the summer, but rather than happening in the morning, the market now occurs from 2 to 7 p.m.

Jean Smith, events manager for Downtown Dearborn, says that the new time means more customers. Previous years had the market beginning every Friday morning, taking place in the heart of the workday.

Another major change for the market is its location, moving out from behind Bryant Library to the more high-profile West Village Commons.

"There are a lot of events that happen at the Commons. It only made sense to move the market there," Smith says. "There’s more foot traffic. The business owners there will benefit from the increased foot traffic from the market and vice versa."

In addition to hosting more than 30 vendors each week, market days include food trucks and live entertainment. Special events include an ice cream social on August 17 and monthly cooking demos.

The market is also a member of the Power of Produce (POP) Club, a program that encourages young people to make healthy food choices for themselves.

Add it all up, and the market is more than a market, but an event unto itself.


"Come and sit a spell," Smith says.

The Dearborn Farmers & Artisans Market occurs every Friday through September, from 2 to 7 p.m. You can find it at West Village Commons in downtown Dearborn.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Auction house celebrates grand opening in Ferndale, looks to make events out of collecting

A Birmingham-based estate sales company has expanded its business with the establishment of a new auction house affiliate complemented by a physical presence in Ferndale.

Aaron’s Estate Sales celebrated its new affiliate Block Auction House with a soft-opening event Sunday, June 3, at its new Ferndale location. A month’s worth of renovations will result in a warehouse sale at the end of the month, followed by an auction specializing in mid-century design items.

Block Auction House is a result of the success of Aaron’s Estate Sales, says owner Aaron Siepierski. But estate sales, he says, have limited markets, namely the people that attend. Auctions, on the other hand, draw on a much wider customer base, allowing Siepierski to list more valuable items at both the auction house and online.

"I always like to say that venue determines value," he says.

Establishing a physical presence allows Siepierski to make events out of the auctions. He plans on offering live entertainment and food trucks at the auctions, a move he believes will attract more young people to the events.

Additional programming will include educational seminars on antique collecting, as well as pop-up flea markets.

The Ferndale location is important, too. The city already has an established reputation for antique and vintage stores, and Siepierski hopes to draw on that customer base. Ferndale’s central location within the metro Detroit region is also viewed as an advantage.

"I named it Block because we’re getting items from the community, and selling them to the community," Siepierski says. "We’re servicing clients from our own neighborhoods."

Block is headquartered in an 8,000 sq. ft. building that includes a 4,500 sq. ft. warehouse showroom and 1,500 sq. ft. in office space.

Block Auction House is located at 2345 Hilton Rd. in Ferndale’s Iron Ridge district.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Garden City plans outdoor fitness court for City Park

An underused area of Garden City Park is set to be redeveloped as an outdoor fitness court, this thanks to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Public Spaces Community Places placemaking initiative.

The rather large park, located at the intersection of Merriman and Cherry Hill roads, features a range of amenities, including picnic areas, horseshoe pits, baseball diamonds, and more. The proposed Garden City Fitness Court would make use of an unused expanse adjacent to park running trails.

As part of the MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help raise funds necessary for building the outdoor fitness court. Should organizers reach their crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by July 17, the MEDC will then contribute a $50,000 matching grant.

The campaign is being hosted on Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

The fitness court is a model designed by the National Fitness Campaign. The design integrates digital platforms with workout equipment to provide seven-minute workouts in bodyweight circuit training.

Amenities include 30 pieces of workout equipment and shock-resistant sports flooring. The outdoor court accommodates up to 28 people at one time.

The National Fitness Campaign also provides recommended routines, though the fitness court can be utilized as users see fit.

"Garden City is excited to bring free fitness to its residents with the National Fitness Campaign's outdoor Fitness Court," says Garden City Mayor Randy Walker.

"The Public Places Community Spaces program will help transform an underutilized space in Garden City Park and create a free fitness club without walls for people of all fitness levels to enjoy."

Click here to view the current status of the crowdfunding campaign.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


New restaurant in downtown Dearborn celebrates fresh ingredients and friendship

Four childhood friends. Three favorite foods. And all the fresh ingredients they can gather. Add all that up and you get Trio Eats, a new restaurant in west downtown Dearborn.

Though they opened last November, Trio Eats recently celebrated its grand opening. Trio takes over the old Brera Pizza spot downtown.

The restaurant gets its name from its four co-owners’ three favorite foods: Pizza, wraps, and salads.

"We’ve all been friends since elementary school. We all grew up in Dearborn," says co-owner Nasser Beydoun, a local businessman who has opened 42 restaurants in the Middle East, including Rainforest Cafes in Cairo and Dubai. “We remember restaurants that use fresh ingredients.

"We wanted to bring that back."

Beydoun and his friends also wanted to bring something else back: One of their friends who had moved to Florida, who has since been convinced to move back to Michigan to become head chef at Trio.

According to Beydoun, the ingredients at Trio are fresh and all-natural. The pizza is wood-fired, and uses Contandino flour, San Marzano Italian tomatoes, fresh basil, and pure olive oil. Salads and wraps are made fresh; the falafel is a professed stand-out.

The Trio group is high on downtown Dearborn, and their success there.

"Ford is building new office buildings here, there are lots of great new restaurants opening here. The area’s booming," Beydoun says.

"For this area, Dearborn is the only city with that downtown feeling people are looking for. We have that walkable, exciting downtown experience here."

Beydoun and his group are already planning to expand the Trio brand. A pop-up falafel location in the works for downtown Detroit.

Trio Eats is located at 1002 S. Military St. in west downtown Dearborn.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Art gallery and coffee shop nears opening date in Dearborn

In theater, the term Black Box refers to a flexible performance space. In engineering, there are inputs and outputs; you put something into the Black Box, and out comes the product.

Somewhere where those two worlds meet, theater and engineering, is Ray Alcodray. The Dearborn resident has spent three decades in professional and community theater, and recently retired from a career in engineering and IT work. Now his focus is on a 4,800 sq. ft. space on Monroe Street, in what’s soon to become the Black Box Gallery.

Alcodray is currently renovating and building out the soon-to-be art gallery and coffee shop. He’s planning a June 22 grand opening.

"I was born and raised here and I’ve always been very keen on our city. There’s a lot of history with Henry Ford, with being a center of innovation. A lot of people from here have that same attitude. It’s a work ethic," Alcodray says.

"I’ve always been an innovator myself, whether in engineering or theater. This is another opportunity to do just that."

It's with that work ethic that Alcodray is doing much of the construction himself; he had to delay the interview because he was in the middle of applying a fresh coat of polyurethane.

Much as in the theater world, Black Box Gallery will be a flexible space. Alcodray plans on showcasing an array of art styles, from paintings to sculptures, and anything else that fits.

He has three bottom lines, he says. The gallery must make enough money to stay open; the items displayed must have high artistic value; and the Black Box will be an ethical organization, upholding the standards of the community and treating artists fairly.

In addition to the art gallery will be a coffee shop, featuring specialty drinks and baked goods.

Black Box Gallery is located at 3700 Monroe St. in Dearborn.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Artisan flower studio celebrates expansion in downtown Northville

It’s been just seven months since its initial opening, but Adorn Fine Flowers is already expanding in downtown Northville. The flower design studio has purchased Chocolates by Renee, the company with which it previously shared the storefront at 118 E. Main St.

Adorn, a full-service florist, also carries home goods and offers floral design for events. It will soon add chocolate-making to its list of services.

"We are looking forward to the new space which will allow us to offer more to our guests," says Alicia Racine, owner of Adorn Fine Flowers. "We plan on adding more flowers, plants, pots, home decor as we continue our emphasis on entertaining. We are especially excited to add chocolates to our offerings.

"We will be bringing in some of our favorite brands of chocolate like Sucre from New Orleans and eventually start making our own chocolates with an artisan touch. We are currently doing lots of research and developing flavors."

The re-designed space will more accurately reflect the Adorn brand, with eclectic and whimsical, yet vintage European themes.

A grand opening is scheduled for Thursday, May 24 at the Adorn storefront. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 5 p.m., and refreshments will be served until 8 p.m.

"We are excited to have Adorn Fine Flowers expand in Downtown Northville," says Lori Ward, director of the Northville Downtown Development Authority. "Their unique and quality floral designs fills a niche in town that many residents, visitors, and neighboring businesses have welcomed."

Adorn Fine Flowers is located at 118 E. Main St. in downtown Northville.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Hazel Park restaurateurs bring notable Chicago coffee roasters to town

Hazel Park is on a roll. Mabel Gray and Cellarman's in 2015. joebar and frame in 2017. Doug’s Delights earlier this year. And, of course the old standbys like Loui’s Pizza, which some consider to be the best pizza-maker in all of metro Detroit.

The latest hubbub to come out of this southern Oakland County ‘burb is the addition of Chicago’s Dark Matter Coffee to joebar. We asked joebar partners Cari Vaugh, Joe Vaughn, and Rebecca LaMalfa what it means to land the respected Chicago roasters.

Q: joebar is bringing Dark Matter Coffee to Hazel Park. How does the Chicago company fit into your vision for joebar and its place in the neighborhood?

A: It’s a simple succession for our neighborhood: An amazing cup of coffee by a remarkable indie brand, Dark Matter Coffee, on a neighborhood corner. joebar has a dog-friendly patio, bike racks and more outside cafe seating to soak up the warm temps as well as city-approved 15-minute parking spots for morning ease.

Dark Matter Coffee at joebar will be brewing our signature espresso drinks and coffees (both hot and iced) as well as light grab and go breakfast options for sit down and take away. Most rousing is the Dark Matter barrel-aged iced coffee on draft, which has been added to joebar's tap lines.

Q: What's exciting about Dark Matter coming to Hazel Park and metro Detroit?

A: Being able to share Dark Matter's Chocolate City Cold Brew with our joebar patrons. It's super crazy good as it isn't cold brewed, but rather extracted with heat. When poured over ice, you taste nutty, fruity, and chocolatey flavors. Our go to: drink it straight from the can or add a splash of cream (or coconut milk, yum) for balance.

Also, being able to buy a bag of Dark Matter's espresso or coffee beans any time of the day. We open are open seven days a week now. The beans are not sold anywhere in Michigan, and we will stock a full retail line of Dark Matter Coffee beans.

Q: Dark Matter joins pop-up restaurant frame as additional features of the joebar experience. Why provide multiple components to your business, rather than a singular concept?

A: We love experience. Coffee adds a morning buzz trifecta to joebar and frame.

Q: Doug's Delights recently opened across the street. Dark Matter is coming soon. What's it like in Hazel Park these days?

A: It's fun! It's diverse. It's casual. There is no pretense. There are no chain stores. There are no meter-maids handing out parking tickets. You can park once and simply hang out. We love Hazel Park.

Q: What's an important lesson learned since first opening joebar in March 2017?

A: To be flexible and listen to what the neighborhood wants. Partnering with Dark Matter adheres to our main philosophy and focus: They are an innovative culinary family fueled by community and passion to deliver the most intellectually honest coffee you will experience. Sustainability and fair business practices are very important to us at joebar. We are beyond honored to widen our family to house Dark Matter Coffee inside joebar.

Please join us and meet the Dark Matter Coffee team on the weekend of June 2nd and 3rd as they will be in town to launch our collaboration and first weekend of brewing.

joebar is located at 23839 John R Rd. in Hazel Park.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
 


Two transformative park projects take shape in Rochester Hills

Two parks are under development in Rochester Hills, one humble in size and one more grand in scope and scale.

A gravel pull-out near the intersection of Avon and Livernois roads is being transformed into a fully-developed park. Work on the Eagles Landing trailhead has begun, with picnic tables, trash cans, and a well-defined parking lot recently put in place. With access to the Clinton River, the shore functions as a kayak launch, as well.

Ken Elwert, director of Parks and Natural Resources for Rochester Hills, says that the improvements are just beginning and that a fully-developed park, along with proper kayak launch, are scheduled to be completed in the next three to five years.

Southwest of Eagles Landing is Innovation Hills, a 110-acre eco-park that is being developed in six phases. The $7 million project, a combination of public and private funding sources, will take several years to be completed, though some features could debut by the end of summer.

Both parks are currently accessible.

"I think with Rochester Hills in general, the citizens, politicians, and businesses, they’re all here for the livability of the city," Elwert says. "These parks are something that the residents and businesses wanted, and the government responded."

One intriguing aspect of the Innovation Hills project will be the development of a playground that is friendly to those with autism. While the playground should appeal to all, this one will avoid using bright colors and will incorporate calming "cocoon-like" spaces, both features designed with autistic children in mind.

Other amenities will include a 2,000-foot boardwalk, four miles of walkable trails, two new ponds, a community building, and much more. Elwert is hopeful that the first mile-long trail loop and boardwalk will open by late summer or early fall, and perhaps some water features by late fall.

Construction of the playground will begin in 2019.

"Innovation Hills will complement the other larger parks, not duplicate them," says Elwert. "It’s going to be a more Up North experience."

Innovation Hills is located at 2800 W. Hamlin Rd. in Rochester Hills.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Bike Dearborn uses Walk n Roll events to promote bike-friendly businesses, encourage others

In an effort to encourage Dearborn businesses to become more bike-friendly, the cycling group Bike Dearborn is now meeting at local businesses rather than parks for its weekly rides.

This is the third season for the weekly Healthy Dearborn Walk n Roll event, which opened its season the first Wednesday of May. More than 100 bicyclists and 45 walkers gathered at Brome Modern Eatery for the opening ride.

Healthy Dearborn Walk n Roll events take place every Wednesday, May through October.

By meeting at local businesses, Bike Dearborn co-founder and ride leader Tracy Besek hopes that business owners will see the purchasing power of bicyclists. The simple installation of a bike rack can make a business bike-friendly, she says.

It’s a move that benefits both sides.

"The Walk n Roll events introduce riders to new businesses, and it shows business owners the positive impact of having bicyclists as patrons," Besek says. "And it showcases the sheer amount of potential customers."

Bicycle parking options also benefit employees, she says.

Bike Dearborn lists bike-friendly businesses on its website, including Blick Art Materials, Dearborn Brewing, Downey Brewing Company, Ford’s Garage, and Jack’s Bicycle & Fitness. Each has bike parking available.

Dearborn’s size and infrastructure barriers, like the Southfield Freeway, can hinder biking options in the city, but Besek is undeterred. And she believes it’s getting better, too.

"I’m optimistic about biking in Dearborn, but we have a ways to go. You can get anywhere by bike; it’s not easy sometimes, but it’s doable," she says. "Hopefully the city’s multi-modal transportation plan will help improve everything."

Visit Bike Dearborn online for a full-lineup of Healthy Dearborn Walk n Roll events and locations.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Weekly run club encourages thirst for vitality in Pontiac

Daniela Walters makes an excellent point about beer and running: they go well together.

 

That’s why Exferimentation Brewing Company, Pontiac’s scientific-sounding brewery, is the perfect place to host a weekly grass-roots run club.

 

“If you figure each glass of beer is 120 to 150 calories, and each mile you run can burn about 100 calories, you don’t feel so guilty,” says Walters, a local patent attorney with the Dobrusin Law Firm who, together with Exferimentation, is coordinating the run club.

 

Open to every experience level from absolute beginner to seasoned marathoner, run club is an opportunity for people to gather, share training wisdom, and see the neighborhoods of Pontiac from a pound-the-ground perspective.

 

“This will be a comfortable, welcoming setting with different pace groups, advice, and motivational support. Community running is a big help to overcome the barriers in your own mind, and it’s a group of people to motivate and distract you so you can do the extra half mile or mile,” says Walters, who runs regularly, and has participated in a few competitive distance events.

 

Launching on May 8, run club will start each Tuesday evening at 5:30, and continue through the end of October. The club is a collaborative effort between Exferimentation and Main Street Pontiac, a downtown-promoting nonprofit that focuses on arts and culture, makerspaces, and health and wellness efforts in the city of Pontiac.

 

“With Healthy Pontiac, We Can! and McLaren Oakland here in Pontiac, this is the perfect ecosystem for health and wellness, and the run club is one of our first health initiatives here in Pontiac,” says Walters, president of Main Street Pontiac.

 

A downtown filled with runners makes the city appear vibrant and healthy, too, an important optic for revitalization. And all participants are welcome relax and refuel with friends at Exferimentation after every run.

 

“We do try to have a healthier angle at the brewery,” says Exferimentation general manager Seth Leininger, pointing out the antioxidant value of their hibiscus wheat beer’s pink-purple hue.

 

Leininger will be the one who stays behind to mind the brewery and serve customers their favorite craft beers and ciders, but he says run club is a perfect fit for pub co-owners and fitness enthusiasts Scott Boughton, Eric Benton, and Andy Stamper. They originally started a run club when they opened the Pontiac brewery in 2016, and fit in a weekly run, in between growing their brewing business and working their full-time jobs in the automotive industry.

 

“[The club] didn’t really pick up again last spring. Everyone was too busy, or there was too much going on. Now Healthy Pontiac has helped us gain some momentum by researching what night of the week and what time would be best,” Leininger says.

 

While he wants runners to come back to Exferimentation, to quench their thirst after running, Leininger hopes the club starts strong and grows quickly.

 

“I know that about 20 people responded to the interest survey, and I would love to see 20, but an average of about a dozen people running each week would be a successful group, too.”

 

Join the run club by showing up at Exferimentation, 7 N. Saginaw, Pontiac. 5:30 p.m. on May 8, and every Tuesday through October.

 

Discover Michigan's parks and waterways with SEMCOG's ParkFinder app and Water Resources Plan

SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, wants southeast Michigan--and everyone else, for that matter--to know just how special its natural resources are. The regional planning partnership is championing two recent developments that work to inform people of our parks and waterways systems.

Released March 22nd, the Water Resources Plan for Southeast Michigan emphasizes that not only are issues like water cleanliness and stormwater management vital to our region, but that water is also a powerful economic driver, as well. The report champions the Blue Economy, connecting quality of life issues to waterfront accessibility.

"We know that for our region, the Great Lakes, rivers, and streams are important to our quality of life, to retain residents and to attract new ones," says Kevin Vettraino, Manager of Plan Implementation at SEMCOG. "What is the main selling point for southeast Michigan? Our water."

Vettraino points to waterfront reclamation projects in places like Detroit and Port Huron, where once inaccessible industrial sites were replaced with popular riverwalks that attract people and help reinvigorate local economies.

SEMCOG also recently released the Southeast Michigan ParkFinder app, available for Apple and Android smart phones. The app is free to download.

The app provides information on 2,600 of the region’s parks, including lists of amenities. Users can pull up a map and drop a pin, and the app shows the different parks nearby.

Users can also search for park by amenities desired, whether they’re looking for a quick visit to a playground or dog park, or an overnight trip with camping facilities and more.

"The state is already doing a good job with tourism programs like Pure Michigan. It’s time for southeast Michigan to promote its wonderful amenities," Vettraino says.

"It shouldn’t be a secret that we have really robust park systems."

The ParkFinder map is also available online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Auburn Hills hopes to build new park at former Country Kitchen site

The city of Auburn Hills is crossing its fingers these next few weeks as it awaits word from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. City officials are hoping that the DNR approves its application for matching grant money to build a new park.

Operating under the working title of Kayak Point Park, the city would like to transform eight acres of vacant land at the northeast corner of Auburn and Opdyke roads, the former site of the old Country Kitchen restaurant. The site has 800 feet of river frontage on the Clinton River.

"City council put together a Green Team to look at potential properties for redevelopment," says Stephanie Carroll, manager of business development and community relations for Auburn Hills. "And then they found this perfect passive park with river access."

A passive park means that the site would lack amenities like playground equipment and instead focus on creating a more natural setting, with plants and landscaping that control erosion and don’t require a lot of maintenance.

Auburn Hills applied for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund matching grant of $199,600 to build Kayak Point Park. Carroll believes that the city will find out the status of its grant application within the next few weeks.

Should the city win the grant, construction of the new park would wrap up in 2019 or 2020.

With access to the riverfront, officials envision the park as a great fishing spot or launch pad for kayaks.

"Since 2009, we’ve been working on our riverwalk masterplan. We look at it every year to see how we can meet our goals. Kayak Point Park does that," Carroll says.

"It’s a longstanding goal of ours to highlight the Clinton River as an asset of our community."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Ferndale issues RFP for action plans on its new inclusive housing policy

In December 2017, the city of Ferndale adopted its inclusive housing policy. Now the city is actively searching out interested parties in helping to further define and put that policy into action.

A May 11, 2018, deadline has been set for an RFP that calls for the development of a measurable action plan for the policy. Jordan Twardy, community and economic development director for the city, says that firms are encouraged to team up to present the best proposal possible.

With its inclusive housing policy, Ferndale is now requiring that new residential projects of 25 units or more must set aside 25 percent of their units for affordable housing. Ten percent of the units must cost equal or less than 80 percent of the area median income, ten percent must cost equal or less than 60 percent, and five percent must cost equal or less than 50 percent.

"There’s a lot of development happening in town. It’s great to be a quote, unquote, "Hot area," but we want to make sure we retain what is great about us in the first place: We’re accessible," Twardy says. "We want to make sure that our core values remain intact."

For developments unable to reach the 25 percent requirement, the inclusive housing policy allows them to pay a penalty. Similar to a new business that can’t meet a parking spot requirement, developments can offer the city a payment in lieu of creating the affordable units.

Twardy says the RFP is about being pro-active and meeting the challenges of rising rents before it becomes too late.

"It’s easy to say we want these things but this is about having accountability," he says. "This is a point to rally around and say this is where we want to go."

Click here to view the city’s RFP.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


UM-Dearborn celebrates the groundbreaking of new Engineering Lab Building

Tony England has good reason to be excited. As the dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, England gets to take part in what could be a transformative moment for the university: The construction of a new Engineering Lab Building.

A $90 million project, groundbreaking for the new Engineering Lab Building, or ELB, was celebrated this past Friday, April 20. England expects an opening date of May 2020.

For Tony England, a new Engineering Lab Building was long overdue. The original ELB was one of the oldest buildings on campus. And while it was designed well, it was designed well for 50 years ago. UM-D and its students need a modern building with modern amenities, says England.

All in all, through a combination of demolition, new construction, and partial renovations, the Engineering Lab Building will have grown from 93,000 sq. ft. to 123,000 sq. ft. of modern applications.

"Even though the building is a third larger, because of the flexibility built in, it will service twice as many students as the old building did," says England.

Once opened, the new ELB will have collaborative spaces, hybrid classrooms, and adaptable labs. Clean rooms, essential to contemporary engineering, weren’t available at the old building, and students would have to travel to the Ann Arbor campus to access them. The new ELB will have those, as well.

The new ELB is the biggest of three improvements to the College of Engineering and Computer Science. A student project center was finished in 2016 and a prototyping building in the fall of 2017.

"These upgrades will make our facilities comparable to any modern engineering college of our size in the country," says England.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Haircuts, massages, and beer: The Men's Chair opens in Pleasant Ridge

Nearly 750 miles separate Detroit from Birmingham, Alabama, and Allison Drake travels it every two weeks.

It’s the sort of dedication found in the most motivated of entrepreneurs. In this case, it’s Drake, owner of two barber shops in two different places. 

A native of Jackson, Michigan, Drake moved to Birmingham roughly five years ago and opened The Men’s Chair in 2015. The full-service barber shop soon took off, and Drake was able to hire employees and grow the business.

Despite her success in Alabama, Drake’s goal was always to get back to Michigan. “It’s my home and my heart,” she says.

She recently celebrated the grand opening of her second location and this one in her home state. The Men’s Chair celebrated its grand opening on Woodward Avenue in Pleasant Ridge this Tuesday, April 17.

Drake’s philosophy is to create a smaller, more intimate experience than your average chain barber shop. She aims to create a quality experience for each customer, with more emphasis on conversation than the number of televisions on the wall. Customers might expect a can of beer during their visit, too.

The Men’s Chair is catering to the "modern professional man," though all are welcome, says Drake. She doesn’t like to use the word pamper, but customers can expect deep neck and shoulder massages when ordering a straight razor neck shave, or a hand massage when ordering a manicure.

Drake hopes her second The Men's Chair is the first of many additional locations. But despite the busyness of running her own company, don’t expect Drake to put down the scissors any time soon.

"I love people. I love barbering. I love seeing the transformation in people, from when they walk into when they leave," says Drake. "I feel like that’s part of the reason I was put on this earth, to have that impact on people, on the daily."

The Men’s Chair is located at 23908 Woodward Ave. in Pleasant Ridge.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

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