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Detroit BBQ & ice cream maker Treat Dreams team up in Ferndale

Downtown Ferndale's Treat Dreams is pulling in customers not for its creative and creamy ice creams, but for barbecue from Detroit.

The two small businesses are in a partnership that has Detroit BBQ Company setting up sell-out popups inside Treat Dreams.

Detroit BBQ sets out regularly from its home base on St. Aubin in Detroit to locations around metro Detroit.

Its success at Treat Dreams brought the company back for a return engagement last week and made the barbecue caterer turned pop-up restaurant into yet another metro Detroit food biz to see the benefit of sharing space and fan bases.

Source: Detroit BBQ Company & Treat Dreams
Writer: Kim North Shine

Brewpub in the works for Michigan Ave. in Dearborn

A plan is brewing to turn a vacant storefront on Michigan Avenue in West Dearborn into a microbrewer.

Dearborn Brewing is starting renovations after months of approvals and paperwork, and after receiving brewing certification using funds from a recent completion of a Kickstarter campaign. It exceeded its fundraising expectation of $25,000 by $243, thanks to supporters, friends, family and strangers.

Founder John Rucinski wants to open the city's first brewpub and to support a city he loves.

"A lot of people have asked 'Why Dearborn?' Well, there are couple of really good reasons for it. I’m from Dearborn. I live here. I went to school here, and I believe it’s a good fit with the area," he says. "Plus, the water here is great for brewing. And that’s a big plus. And so is the huge response we've gotten from local residents who are excited for Dearborn to finally be getting a brewery."

If all goes as planned, Dearborn Brewing will open late summer. The brewing operation will be onsite as will a tap room and growler sales. The larger plan is to distribute Dearborn Brewing beer to local bars and restaurants.

Source: John Rucinski, founder, Dearborn Brewing
Writer: Kim North Shine

Construction to start this fall on Dearborn's City Hall Artspace Lofts

With most, if not all, approvals, funding sources and other demands squared away, construction on the City Hall Artspace Lofts in Dearborn can begin in the fall. Hopes are, when complete, a live-work-display-sell-perform campus will host an artists' community that has the potential to paint a rosy economic picture for the city -- if not the Metro Detroit region.

The project, which will renovate the historic Dearborn City Hall into living spaces, workspaces, retail spaces, galleries and more, recently won a $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation's Supporting Diverse Art Spaces initiative. City Hall operations will move down the street near other city offices in September or October, says Melissa Kania, of the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority.

The East Dearborn DDA and the city of Dearborn are working with Minnesota-based Artspace to renovate the old city offices into an arts campus that could be an economic stimulant for the city and the region and build on Metro Detroit's history of invention and innovation.

The plan calls for 46 affordable live/work spaces for artists and their families, work studios, co-working spaces for entrepreneurs and artists, a live/work unit for an artist-in-residency program, and galleries spread out on the city hall campus off Michigan Avenue.

In similar partnerships around the country, Artspace has developed 35 affordable artists' communities, and another 12 are in mid-development. The projects add up to about $600,000 in investment in local communities. The Dearborn development is estimated to cost $15.7 million.

Neumann/Smith Architecture and Ghafari Associates have drawn up design plans for Dearborn City Hall Artspace Lofts. They feature high ceilings, tall windows and open floor plans that play off the historic style of the building.

A public meeting to learn more about the Artspace Lofts is planned for Wednesday, June 18, in Dearborn City Council chambers.
Source: East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Seller Nation building on its auction approach to home sales

Since SellerNation's launch in January, its auction style, seller-side-focused approach to home sales has caught on and led to plans to expand beyond its Southfield office.

SellerNation, which is the real estate division of Woodward Asset Capital, uses its own OfferSubmission platform to generate multiple offers in a shorter period of time than traditional real estate sales. And unlike typical home auctions that sell distressed or foreclosed homes, SellerNation works mostly with families needing to move property more quickly due to life-changing situations such as death or divorce.

“Using an auction-style approach, we are finding that our sellers attract multiple bidders, higher prices, faster sales and have an easier process than traditional methods for selling a home,” says Ron Jasgur, president of SellerNation. “Auctions are great for sellers in those situations, but they work even better when it’s a great home. Whenever we hear of an auction that yields a record sale of antiques, artwork, classic autos or comic books, they’re always a result of a well-run auction.”

The success so far has Jasgur adding staff and considering expansion in Metro Detroit and possibly outside the state.

SellerNation reps will be spreading the word about how SellerNation works and giving free home evaluations without the need for an in-person tours this month and next at:

Tonight, May 22, Panera Bread, 6399 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield
Tuesday, June 3, Panera Bread, 37611 Twelve Mile Road, Farmington Hills
Thursday, June 19, Panera Bread, 39450 W. 14 Mile Road, Commerce.
All meetings are 10 - 11 a.m.

Source: Lynne Meredith Golodner, owner, Your People LLC; and Ron Jasgur, president, SellerNation
Writer: Kim North Shine

Northville-based Driver Buddy's technology takes on fleet management

Driver Buddy, a young tech company working to make fleet management easier, seamless, effective, affordable and more productive, has set up its sales and design operation in downtown Northville.

Driver Buddy, 114 E. Main Street, is growing as companies sign on for the service that brings handheld control of company vehicles, orders, sales, service techs and more.

CEO Ray Lark has assembled a team that brings 30 years of experience in automotive, building materials, medical devices and the hospital and transportation industries.

Driver Buddy combines handheld technology, cloud hosting and powerful computing technologies to solve all sorts of fleet and delivery management issues, from dispatch, communications, and shipping solutions to data control and retrieval.

The start-up recently added two new employees and plans to add more.

Source: Ray Lark, CEO, Driver Buddy
Writer: Kim North Shine

Grosse Pointe Park Market Square plants seed for Kercheval Ave re-do

The demolition of a liquor store in Grosse Pointe Park has made way for what will become a more permanent space for a market that attracts crowds looking for farm and hand-made goods each spring, summer and fall.

The West Park Farmers Market that comes seasonally each year to Kercheval Avenue is a success on its own, says market manager Jennifer Meldrum, but the new Market Square, which is being built about two blocks away at Kercheval and Wayburn, will give favorite vendors more permanent spots to do business.

"Our hope is to, along with the popular Saturday Market, have market items available during the week for everyone’s shopping convenience," says Meldrum.

The city's Department of Public Works has begun construction on market stalls that will line the street. Plans call for the widening of Kercheval, new landscaping and the addition of an island in the roadway that will create a roundabout for car and pedestrian traffic.

The demolition of Art's Party Store made room for additional parking in a part of the city that's experiencing a commercial renaissance as new restaurants such as Atwater Brewery and Cabbage Patch Cafe join neighborhood staples such as Belding Cleaners, Sprout House and Pointe Hardware & Lumber Hardware.

"Along with fruit and vegetable stalls, the market will feature organic produce, flower vendors and specialty items including meats, cheeses, flavored olive oils and barbecue dinners made to order," Meldrum says. "While many of our vendors will be using the new market stalls, we still plan on having the market umbrellas set up along Kercheval for gifts and seasonal items."

Market Square is the latest piece in a plan in large part driven by the philanthropic and civic-minded Cotton family to turn Kercheval Avenue at the Detroit border into a walkable promenade and magnet for locals to find quality food and shopping and public gathering spaces.

The 2014 market season runs May 24-Dec. 6.

Source: Jennifer Meldrum, market manager, Grosse Pointe Park
Writer: Kim North Shine

M-Brew gives customers a ride through Michigan's food, drink, vibe

An old VFW hall in downtown Ferndale is on its way to becoming home to a catering biz, event space and storefront and cafe centered around Michigan made goods, from to-go growlers of craft beer to food and drink from dozens of cities around the state.

M-Brew, the brainchild of Dean Bach, owner of Ferndale icon Dino's Lounge, will likely open in early July inside the renovated hall that is part bungalow-style house with a building added to the back.

It's located at 177 Vester Street, next door to nightlife designation and award-winning spirit maker Valentine Distilling. Valentine was started by a like-minded entrepreneur who left New York for a return to Michigan with the dream of building a craft business that could lift up the local economy.

Bach bought the VFW hall two years ago and in that time has come up with a multifaceted business plan that he hopes will fill the Michigan-influenced renovated house.

The building behind the house is a 2,000-square-foot kitchen and home base to Bach's Dino's Catering and Mindful Catering. The latter offers healthy foods to school lunch programs.

The basement of the house will be known simply as The Basement, Bach says, and it's where parties and special events can be held. Dart boards, paneling and all-around basement decor that came with the house will be the party backdrop.

The house is where much of the woodwork and craftsmanship is on display. It will be a "little Michigan market," Bach says. Michigan-made coffee will be brewed and 30 Michigan craft beers will be on draught for takeaway in growlers. There will also be locally- and Michigan-made products -- salsa, chips, pickles, etc. -- for sale, and cold and hot prepared foods will be made in the kitchen or purchased from Michigan entrepreneurs for takeaway or eat-in.

The house was gutted and replaced with pine walls and ceilings, wood floors, a new fireplace and repurposed Douglas fir countertops and tabletops, says Bach.

"The concept is geared around craft beer carryout," Bach says.

However, a large wraparound porch that's been added to the front of the house and gives off a Mackinac Island vibe is the "perfect place to stay and enjoy a pint or a cup of coffee."

Bach expects opening day to come around the Fourth of July. A Ferndale Downtown Development Authority event is planned for June 19.

Bach's head is churning with ideas and things to come at M-Brew, even before opening day. A big one, he says, is former Red Wing Darren McCarty's private-label root beer that will be released at an event.

"This is such an exciting time," Bach says. "It's tiring and so much work, but it's so exciting for me and and my wife."

Source: Dean Bach, owner, Dino's Lounge and M-Brew
Writer: Kim North Shine

Mahindra opens new tech center in Troy, will add 112 jobs

A Mumbai, India conglomerate has chosen Troy as the site of a tech center that will tap into engineering talent that the company chairman says is part of  a "perfect ecosystem to step up our U.S. presence."

Mahindra, which has operations in a the aerospace, defense, energy, real estate, logistics, agriculture and financial services and other industries, is expanding its automotive markets worldwide.

Mahindra USA Inc. will open the North American Technical Center on Technology Drive in Troy and hire about 112 employees, most of them engineers who will support the development of the GenZe, a battery-powered scooter that will primarily be marketed to college students. The engineers will also design and develop prototype vehicles in the renovated Troy facility.

Mahindra has an Ann Arbor manufacturing facility where the GenZe is made and where about 34 employees work.

Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group, told a group gathered last week for the announcement of the tech center opening that Michigan and metro Detroit are the ideal location for their expansion because of their unmatched talent.
“Michigan provided us the perfect eco-system to step up our U.S. presence. We were able to draw on the terrific automotive engineering and manufacturing talent available in the state to create industry leading initiatives for the United States,” says Mahidra. “The North American Technical Center and GenZe represent important disruptive product incubators for the Mahindra Group. Constant innovation focused on improving the lives of our consumers, employees and the communities they impact is at the core of Mahindra’s ‘Rise’ philosophy and we are delighted to see this come to fruition in the United States.”

Mahindra, a $16.7 billion multinational that employs more than 180,000 people in more than 100 countries, is investing $2 million in the Troy facility. The state of Michigan is pitching a $500,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to Mahindra, and the city of Troy has given the company a nine-year personal property tax abatement.

Source: Kathy Fagan, Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Writer: Kim North Shone

Plymouth Yoga Room expands into loft studio

After five years in the business based on "Namaste," the Plymouth Yoga Room is expanding into a loft studio above the yoga room that has run out of space.

Owners Brent and Sheri Rieli have developed a loyal yoga community that packed the studio at 474 Forest. The expansion doubles the space of Plymouth Yoga Room and lets the Rielis hold multiple classes at once and add to class offerings.

"Our new room is more spacious to accommodate more students, considering our yoga community is constantly growing," says Jen Brown, an instructor at Plymouth Yoga Room.

Source: Jen Brown, Plymouth Yoga Room
Writer: Kim North Shine

Salon & Spa at Macomb Place comes to downtown Mt. Clemens

Downtown Mount Clemens has a new salon and spa that wants to welcome the usual clientele for hair, body and nail treatments but also be a place for parties and group outings.

Salon & Spa at Macomb Place opened last month at 65 Macomb Place, Studio C, and celebrated with a grand opening this week.

The owners and stylists see their specialty as party hostesses and want Salon & Spa to be a destination for bachelorette parties, princess parties, birthday parties, even company outings.

Source: Salon & Spa at Macomb Place
Writer: Kim North Shine

Nature's Playhouse opens playspace and wellness center in Ferndale

Two moms have created what they see as a dream place for their own children and the community at large to come and play and learn.

Michelle McEvoy and Lisa Ball describe their recently opened Nature's Playhouse in downtown Ferndale as "an all-natural family enrichment center." Both know the craving to find a redeeming place to take their children, and what they wanted to build was a place that's good for children and their families.

Nature's Playhouse is located at 318 W. Nine Mile Road. The pair previously ran a smaller Nature' s Playhouse in the Hunter Community Center in Clawson.

Their mom-driven entrepreneurship grew out of desire to provide the entire family with enriching experiences in environmentally safe, conscious surroundings.

And while playhouse is in the business name, it's not just about kids running around having fun. Nature's Playhouse is a wellness center, a classroom, yoga studio and more.

Open playtime is a part of Nature's Playhouse. Families can drop in or buy a membership. And besides the play area of yesteryear, they will find toys made of wood and cloth and by hand. One rule: no phones. The idea is to be involved with the kids, and the surroundings are meant to be peaceful and calming.

Nature's Playhouse also has aligned itself with likeminded teachers, artists and crafters who will lead workshops and classes.  Classes in natural child-birth, prenatal, family and therapeutic yoga, workshops in belly painting, puppet making and much, more are on the menu.

Nature's Playhouse will also be home to several free support groups for breastfeeding, postpartum care, and baby-weaning, and host workshops and special events emphasizing family wellness. Handcrafted items made by Michigan families will be for sale.

Ball and McEvoy will teach as will other instructors, experts and specialists. McEvoy, a certified schoolteacher in Michigan and California, will be the lead instructor.

"One of the things I love the most about Nature's Playhouse is that the environment and the class offerings provide the opportunity for our kids to observe and participate with us while we do some things to take care of ourselves," says McEvoy, a University of Michigan graduate who has traveled the world and taught Kindergarten and fifth grade before becoming a mom.

Ball, a veteran entrepreneur and owner of Joseph K Publications, director of Clawson's Arts & Authors Festival, project coordinator for The Formation of Motherhood Project, and founder of the My Glass is Full consultancy, says the emphasis is actually on keeping moms in shape emotionally and physically so they can be the best they can be.

‘Women are still the heart of families today, which is why our programs focus on family wellness through physical health, enriching classes to help bond with your child and free support groups to help women on their new journey through motherhood.”

Source: Lisa Ball & Michelle McEvoy, owners, Nature's Playhouse
Writer: Kim North Shine

Giuseppe's International Oils & Vinegars opens Grosse Pointe store

Stainless steel dispensers, ceramic decanters, and glass bottles make up much of the decor of Giuseppe's International Oils & Vinegars, but it's what's inside the containers that is the lifeblood of the business that has opened a second location in metro Detroit.

The first store, at Partridge Creek Mall in Clinton Township, has found enough success selling olive oils, aged vinegars and accessories that the owners decided to open a store in Grosse Pointe this week.

The newest Giuseppe's is located in the Village business district at 16841 Kercheval Avenue, on the second floor of the Dawood Building. The second floor retail location is a rarity for the Village, but may become more common as rules on building uses ease up and become more welcoming to businesses.

Besides its olive oils in flavored, regional, organic and specialty varieties dispensed from stainless steel canisters, and its vinegars imported from Modena, Italy that come in dark and white balsamic and wine varieties, Giuseppe's sells herbs and spices, olive oil skin products, handmade ceramic decanters and dishes, and other home products.

Giuseppe's also works with chefs who visit the store to share food and recipes that use oils, vinegars and other spices, including many that focus on health benefits.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce

Scavolini by Cucina Moda to host Art of Giving fundraiser

Scavolini by Cucina Moda in downtown Birmingham is first and foremost a high-end kitchen and bathroom design business, but several times a year it becomes an art gallery, party space and multi-purpose backdrop for special events that support all sorts of causes while also promoting Scavolini's business.

On May 22, about 250 guests will come to Niki and Alisha Serras's store at 202 E. Maple for the Art of Giving Fundraiser. It'll be Scavolini's fourth year of hosting Art of Giving, the brainchild of Tom Maniaci, senior VP and creative director of advertising at the Sussman Agency in Southfied. He is also an artist and painter who started Frame Your Face in 2005 as a way to use his celebrity pop art to raise money for small charities. Since it began, Frame Your Face has been invited to more than 40 non-profit fundraisers and has helped raise more than $175,000, says Maniaci.

At Art of Giving at Scavolini, Maniaci's 50-by-50 paint by number of Albert Einstein (John Lennon and Frank Sinatra have been featured in previous years) will take its place near sleek, modern kitchens. Guests can buy a square and paint it . When the night is done the work is complete, and a small Southeast Michigan charity walks away with $10,000 or $15,000. "For a small charity that can be very impactful," says Maniaci.

He is grateful to Scavolini for hosting the event, which was at capacity last year. Instead of moving to a larger space, ticket prices went up to $75. Proceeds go to a different charity each year. This year the recipient is SOUL, Support Our Unique Learners, a cause dear to Kim Adams, a former Detroit meteorologist who is the master of ceremonies at this year's Art of Giving.

"It's a great way to promote their store and also be a part of the community," says Maniaci, who also gives thanks to Sussman agency president Alan Sussman. " There are art openings, charity events. It's a smart way to show the beautiful work they do and also do some good."

Source: Tom Maniaci, creative director of Sussman Agency and founder of Frame Your Face
Writer: Kim North Shine

Peace Pedalers offers pedi-cab rides in downtown Plymouth

There's a new way to get around downtown Plymouth. Peace Pedalars, a pedicab business started by Diane and Andy Webster, is the latest and most energy efficient way to get to and fro.

The first rides in the white and black tricycle cabs that come with convertible covers started on St. Patrick's Day weekend. In recent weeks as weather has started to warm, families are taking rides around the square, late night crowds are getting from restaurant to bar or to their cars with a ride on the leather seat of the pedicab.

Besides providing a taxi service, Peace Pedalers is also an advertising service. The Websters, who completed a special drivers' training and expect other pedicab drivers to do the same, want it to be a regular part of the downtown Plymouth scene, and get to know locals as they show them around town.

Source: Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Walsh College campus to get $15M addition, renovation

An expansion of space and a refinement of business programs is coming to Walsh College in Troy as part of $15 million in renovations, additions and improvements.

The changes include a two-story, 27,000-square-foot renovation and addition to Walsh's original 1970s-era campus building and the redesign and modernization of 28,000 square feet of interior spaces on campus.

Construction will begin in late summer and is expected to be completed within 18 months. When finished, distinct pavilions will offer a business communication-focused student success center, a student lounge and a student services center.

The project will be guided by Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, the renovator of Walsh's Barry Center that opened in 2007.

The student success center will offer technologically advanced services and equipment meant to respond to the demand of employers and students for more business communication skills and leadership training.

Inside the center, students can work on presentations in various digital and electronic formats at new work stations, practice presentations and other projects in simulated workplace environments and have access to videoconferencing.

The new student lounge will have interactive meeting spaces and additional study areas and the new student services center will house all the departments of Walsh College, making taking care of college business faster and easier. There will also be more private meeting space for students and advisors.

Source: Lateshia Dowell, Airfoil PR
Writer: Kim North Shine
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