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Elevation Burger aims for early 2015 opening of second Ann Arbor location

When UM grads Michael and Sarah Tayter were looking for a way to return to Ann Arbor from Austin, Tex., their favorite burger restaurant ended up being the key to their return. 

"There were a couple of Elevation Burgers in the area, and that became our family's favorite restaurant," Michael Tayter says. "I always had an entrepreneurial itch, and it kind of felt like a perfect fit."

That led to the opening of their first Elevation Burger restaurant on Washtenaw Ave. in July of 2013. Now, the husband and wife team will be expanding by adding another branch of the environmentally friendly burger franchise downtown on Liberty.

"We definitely have always wanted to open one up on campus somewhere," Tayter says. "Having no restaurant experience for the first one, it was very difficult to convince anyone to lease us space on campus. But now the concept has proven itself."

The 1,800-square-foot space will be under renovation for several months, with January 2015 as Tayter's projected opening date. The downtown location will receive an updated design treatment for the Elevation Burger franchise with a more modern look than previous stores. Updates on the construction will be posted on the Elevation Burger Ann Arbor Facebook page.

Elevation Burger specializes in organic, grass-fed beef that is ground in the restaurant, as well as other healthy and sustainable foods and ingredients. Tayter expects to employ a staff of between 10 and 12 workers at the new restaurant. With a three-store franchise agreement, the couple plans to open a third location in the future, and hopes to keep all three in Ann Arbor.

Source: Michael Tayter, Elevation Burger
Writer: Natalie Burg

Symba Clothing to offer fashion for women of all sizes in Ypsi

Felicia Sims has always had an eye for fashion. Her dream was to create a store where women of all sizes, particularly women of color, could find great clothes. Come October, that dream will become a reality with Symba Clothing & Fashion in Ypsilanti.

"I was trying to make a woman feel happy while she's shopping," says Sims, "and not break the bank on nice, quality pieces."

Symba has been operating online for a few months, but Sims decided adding a physical storefront was important to her clientele. As a shopper, she likes to try on clothes and have the option of making returns easily. As a business owner, she found just the right spot for her shop at the new Ypsilanti Town Center development. 

"I noticed that Ypsilanti didn't really have a store that I was trying to create," Sims says. "A couple of people have refered me to Ypsilanti as well."

Sims hopes to opens Symba Clothing & Fashion's physical location in October. She plans to operate the store herself at first, and then hopes to hire an employee in the future.

Source: Felicia Sims, Symba Clothing
Writer: Natalie Burg

Zingerman's Mail Order adds 15 jobs, plans warehouse expansion

Zingerman's Mail Order has been growing between five and ten percent each year. As that growth is expected to continue, that means the catalog and online sales member of the Zingerman's Community of Businesses is eventually going to need more space - and that physical expansion is set to begin this fall. 

"We're taking a slow approach to moving into the space," says Zingerman's Mail Order Managing Partner Toni Morell. "We're taking a little bit more strategic approach, expanding every time a tenant is moving."

With neighboring tenants ending their leases between now and 2017, Zingerman's Mail Order plans to eventually take over the entire building. The first expansion will take place in November, when the business will take over an additional 6,000 square feet. Sure, Morell could have gone out and found a larger warehouse elsewhere immediately, but she didn't want to lose the benefits of their Phoenix Dr. space. 

"We like that we're on the bus route on this side of town and there aren't a lot of warehouse spaces on bus routes," says Morell.

Along with growing in space, Zingerman's Mail Order has also been growing its staff. Fifteen new employees have been added since August of 2014, bringing their total staff to 83. The business also hires 450-500 seasonal workers during each holiday season. Morell anticipates adding more products and growing the business in other ways as they grow in size, though no specific decisions have been made yet.

Source: Toni Morell, Zingerman's Mail Order
Writer: Natalie Burg

Hispanic-focused hair salon to open in Ypsilanti Town Center development

As a hair stylist, Mareli Santiago noticed a gap in the salon services offered in Ypsilanti. 

"There are a lot of Hispanic people in Ypsilanti, but there aren't a lot of hair salon [employees] that speak Spanish," Santiago says. "Some people will go all the way to Detroit to find one." 

Soon, they won't have to. Santiago plans to open her own salon in the Ypsilanti Town Center building now under development on Ecorse Rd. As her parent already owns a small market nearby that is patronized by many Hispanic customers, it seemed like the perfect location for her niche market and beyond. 

"We'll probably have more Hispanic people come in, but anyone is welcome," says Santiago. 

Though she's currently undecided on a name for the studio, Santiago is leaning toward Studio M as a possibility. Renovations are now underway, and she hopes to open around mid-September. Initially, she plans to offer hair services only, but may expand to nails in the future. She and two other stylists will work at the salon.

Source: Mareli Santiago, Salon Owner
Writer: Natalie Burg

Pearl Yoga and Massage to open in Ypsilanti

With her mother and sister in the bodywork business, massage therapy was nothing new for Monica Boch by the time she began working in the field full-time in 2012. But when she broke her hand in late 2013 and couldn't do any bodywork for seven months, she decided it was time to expand her operation into new territory by opening her own studio. 

"I realized I needed to expand my vision of what I was doing as a business owner, and have a more diversified offering," Boch says. "I realized that there is this total picture of health stuff that I feel is valuable."

Boch plans to open Pearl Yoga & Massage in early September on Pearl St. in Ypsilanti, adding yoga, Pilates and dance instruction to her offerings. The historic, 1,200 square foot space proved to be exactly what she needed to bring her vision to life - exactly where she was hoping to open the business. 

"I wanted to offer this in Ypsi because most people have to to Ann Arbor for this," she says. "Most of our massage will be based in Swedish, therapeutic massage, but we'll also be bring in people who do Thai massage."

Boch says her focus at Pearl Yoga & Massage will be to provide quality, personalized services to clients, as well as pay her therapists and instructors livable wages. She anticipates hiring 6-10 specialists and plans to work to pair each client with the best instructor or therapist for their needs and skill level. 

Source: Monica Boch, Pearl Yoga & Massage
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ballet Chelsea moves into new, 8,000 sq ft. studio

Ballet Chelsea has a brand new home and with it will come new classes and offerings for people of all ages. The non-profit, which began as the performance arm of Dance Arts of Chelsea in 1995 has grown into quite the entity in and of itself - which eventually led to the need for its own space. 

"We were expanding our ideas of programs we wanted to add and other things we wanted to do, and we felt we needed more space," says Ballet Chelsea manager Brenda Stevens. "We didn't want to take advantage of the other organization, so we decided to strike out on our own." 

The non-profit found just the right place to do so on S. Main St. in Chelsea. The 8,000 square foot studio allows Ballet Chelsea space for three dance studios, the largest of which is the size of their performance stage. 

"It has done is allowed us to have more control over the training of our dancers, and we can establish the class offerings ourselves," Stevens says. " It's allowed us to open up different types of dance to the community. We're offering Scottish Highland step, and we're going to have ballroom dancing, yoga and Pilates." 

Ballet Chelsea opened in their new space three weeks ago after first locating the space in February. As the space was a white box at that time, the organization built their studio from the ground up with the financial assistance of many local supporters. 

The non-profit currently serves about 50 to 60 dancers during their summer programming, but Stevens expects that number to climb to more than 300 people weekly in the fall. The increase in class offerings has spurred the hire of two new instructors, brining their total to 14. 

Source: Brenda Stevens, Ballet Chelsea
Writer: Natalie Burg

Authentic Greek street food coming to S. University

Dimitri and Aphrodite Roumanis have grown up around Greek food, visiting Greece every year with their family. Now, the brother and sister team, along with their father, will bring the cuisine to N. University with Mezes Greek Grill

"What we eat there is what we wanted to bring here and introduce people to authentic Greek street food," says Dimitri Roumanis. "The amount of foot traffic and student traffic that is here every day is perfect. People will come in between classes, and there are a lot of faculty that come to the around for lunch."

Included on the menu will be gyro meat served on a stick, a recent trend Roumanis has experienced in Greece, egg lemon soup, as well as a salad made from dried bread, tomatoes and olive oil - and, of course, the traditional chicken, beef and lamb gyros. 

"Our food is not typical to what that location has," says Roumanis. "There's Greek food around here, but you have to sit down and order. We're trying to add the quickness of street food."

Roumanis plans to open Mezes Greek Grill next week with a staff of about eight after more than three months of renovations. The restaurant will be located in the former Sushi.com location, and will sit between 50 and 60 diners. 

Source: Dimitri Roumanis, Mezes Greek Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg

Woodstone Grill opens in renovated Belleville space

Brian Coker wanted a nice place to eat in his neighborhood, so he made one. His Woodstone Grill, right outside of Ypsilanti Twp. in Belleville, opened on July 25. The goal of the restaurant, he says, is to "sell delicious and remarkable food and drinks" and to serve nutritional, well-prepared meals made with quality ingredients at a fair price. 

"I've been in the restaurant business in one form or another for most of my life and always thought about opening something," Coker says. "But for me to do it, it had to be the perfect fit which meant the perfect location for me, and this seemed to be that opportunity." 

Coker has been working on the restaurant for about a year, making cosmetic changes to the building, as well as adding walls and renovating the kitchen. Woodstone Grill is currently only open for dinner, but will expand its hours to include lunch next week. 

"Our menu is in a state of evolution as we fine tune it based on the feedback from the community," says Coker. "Like any new restaurant we've had bumps in the road and bugs to work out, but the community has been very supportive and made it clear that they're happy we're here."

Coker hopes his restaurant will become a productive member of the community for a long time to come. Currently, Woodstone Grill employs a staff of 30 to 35 workers.

Source: Brian Coker, Woodstone Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ypsilanti Running Company eyes Labor Day for opening in downtown Ypsi

A longtime running and ten-year veteran of Ann Arbor's Tortoise and Hare, Mike Nix has known for some time that his ultimate goal was to open a running store of his own. Come Labor Day weekend, that plan will be fulfilled with the opening of Ypsilanti Running Company in downtown Ypsi. 

"I've got a bunch of  friends who live in Ypsi, and I thought, 'Why not Ypsilanti?'" says Nix. "There's a strong sense of identity here. People in Ypsilanti have been coming to Ann Arbor for things like this, and I thought if we put something like this in Ypsilanti, they'd be proud of it and they'd come to it." 

The 1,600 square foot store front will not only feature running shoes, apparel and accessories, but will also host circuit training-type fitness classes. As he prepare to open, he says the business community around Ypsilanti Running Company couldn't be more supportive. 

"Everybody in downtown Ypsilanti is great with one another," he says. "All those retailers downtown here have been really nice and welcoming." 

Nix plans to open Ypsilanti Running Company with his wife, sister-, brother- and mother-in-law, and hopes to add and employee in beginning of next year. 

Source: Mike Nix, Ypsilanti Running Company
Writer: Natalie Burg

North Star Reach breaks ground on 105-acre camp for children with health challenges

Children with serious health challenges must often spend a lot of time thinking about their limitations. Thanks to a new, 105-acre camp that just broke ground in Pinckney this week, about 1,500 of those kids will get a chance to focus on what they can do — including how much fun they can have. 

"They're so used to hearing 'you can't do that because of your illness.' At camp it's always, 'you can do that,'" says North Star Reach Marketing and Communications Specialist Marji Wisniewski. "They make friends and meet kids just like them. And that's important. They are being cured of their illness at their hospitals, but it's at camp where they heal."

Beginning in the fall of 2015, North Star Reach will host fall and spring weekend camps and weeklong summer camps for children with children with cancer, heart disease, ventilator dependency, organ transplants, sickle cell disease. Many will be referred from their healthcare providers, as North Star Reach has partnered with 13 hospitals for the project. 

So far, $21,000,000 of the $26,000,000 needed to construct the many buildings of North Star Reach and to maintain operations for the first two years. 

"We're going to have a complete medical center on site, a beautiful dining hall and rustic cabins," says Wisniewski. "Everything is 'state of the art rustic,' meaning it has everything these children with special needs need to have, but they won't have to think about it. For them, they're just going to camp." 

The Pinckney camp is a provisional member of SeriousFun Children’s Network, which was founded in 1988 by Paul Newman. North Star Reach will be the ninth such camp in the U.S.

In addition to 20 to 25 staffers, North Star Reach will rely on a number of volunteers to complete their programming. More than 100 volunteer opportunities will be available each week. For more information on volunteering or taking part in the capital campaign, people may visit NorthStarReach.org

Source: Marji Wisniewski, North Star Reach
Writer: Natalie Burg

Sixth area clinic in store for Probility on Plymouth Rd.

When patients need to go to physical therapy, it often means multiple trips per week for multiple weeks on end. That means a convenient location is important. Now opening its sixth area location, Probility Physical Therapy is convenient from just about anywhere in town. 

"We have offices in and around Ann Arbor, but it's tough traveling across town, so people really appreciate people having an office nearby," says owner Brandon Lorenz. "We've kind of positioned our company to cater to every area in the region geographically for our patients."

The newest Probility office will open in the Courtyard Shops on Plymouth Rd. Lorenz is aiming for an Aug. 18 opening. Like all of his existing offices, he'll begin the new location with a staff of three and will grow from there. Also like all other Probility locations, every physical therapist will be trained in manual therapy. 

"We have a more emphasis on manual therapy," says Lorenz. "Usually, if you go to a physical therapy organization, there might be one person in the company who is the manual therapy guy. Our entire company has been trained in that higher level of physical therapy."

The 2,000 square foot location is now under a total renovation. Existing Probility offices are located in Ann Arbor on S. State St. and Westgate Shopping center, in Saline, Ypsilanti and in Clinton. 

Source: Brandon Lorenz, Probility
Writer: Natalie Burg

Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics doubles its size with new location

Until recently, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea's Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics office was bursting at the seams. But running out of space gave the clinic the opportunity to address a few other issues with their downtown Dexter location.

"We were on the second floor and parking wasn't the greatest," says Chris Ray, office manager for Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. "We didn't have the greatest signage to let people know where we were. The conversation started with our providers about looking for a different space within the community."

They found it in the Dexter Crossing shopping center on Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd. The 4,500 square foot space nearly doubled their original size, allowing for their growing staff and patient population to operate with a lot more elbow room. All that space, however, won't change the office's quality of care.

"Regardless of the space of how big it looks, we're still providing the same great patient care we were before," says Ray. "We want to provide more opportunities to our patients and better access." 

Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics made their move from one clinic to the next in about five highly orchestrated hours on July 15. As the provides and staff become more acquainted with their additional space, says Ray, they'll begin considering what new those new opportunities they hope to provide to their patients may be. 

Source: Chris Ray, Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
Writer: Nataie Burg

Kiwanis Thrift Store plans to purchase larger Scio Twp facility for warehouse

A new home could be in the future for one of two Kiwanis Thrift Sale locations. The Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor is under contract to purchase a 121,651 square foot Scio Twp building that was once the location of Sheridan Books.

"We are in an agreement that says at any point, within 90 days, we could lose our location by Costco," says John Dahl, president of the Kiwanis Club. "That's why we've been looking at this for the last year. We've looked at possible sites in the Ann Arbor area."

Operations at the Kiwanis Thrift Sale downtown will continue as normal, but the new location will give the organization's warehouse facility, which has primarily focused on furniture sales, to make better use of its space. 

While part of the building is occupied by renters, Dahl says about 45,000 square feet of space is available for Kiwanis's use and to lease to additional renters. He expects the store will use about 20,000 square feet of that space, up from the 15,000 square feet utilized at their current warehouse. 

"From our customers' standpoint, what this will do is allow us to spread things out better than what we're currently doing right now," says Dahl. "Especially in our downtown location, we'ed like to make better use of our space, and this allows us to do a better job in terms of displaying our merchandise. 

Should the transaction move forward according to plan, Dahl hopes to close on the new facility in late October or early November and begin the transition from their current warehouse. He anticipates the organization would use sales to clear out excess inventory rather than transport it all from one place to the other. 

Source: John Dahl, Kiwanis Club
Writer: Natalie Burg

10,000 sq ft Ypsilanti Town Center renovated for success

A long vacant Ypsilanti Twp. property will soon be getting a makeover, and, should all go according to plans, new tenants. 

"We are going to name it the Ypsilanti Town Center," says Steve Campeau, a partner in the property's redevelopment with Beal Properties. "We want to make it the premier location for office suites in town. We're committed to fixing it up, making it look nice and continuing to add value to the community."

The 9,960-square foot building is divided into 14 suites that Campeau says can be combined or renovated to suit the tenants' needs. The partners are asking $9 per square foot for the commercial space. Formerly a medical building, Campeau says the facility is ideally suited for similar uses, but are available for other uses as well. 

"The township really wants to get this building occupied," Campeau says. "They are working with us to get any kind of business in there." 

Campeau believes the property has been vacant for about seven years. Exterior work is underway on the building now, but the partners plan to wait until tenants have been secured to renovate the interior, so each suite can be built to suit the business's needs. 

Source: Steve Campeau, Beal Properties
Writer: Natalie Burg

Excel Dental brings patient focus, four jobs to Traver Village Shopping Center

In most dental offices, patients are used to the same routine during their first visit. They fill out a long form with lots of questions. At the new Excel Dental on Plymouth Rd. in Ann Arbor, however, they do things a little differently. 

"We go out of our way and take the patients in the back and do a patient interview. It gives us a chance to get to know our patients," says Excel Dental Patient Coordinator Laura Reeves. "Dr. Sandra strives toward patient care and patient courtesy." 

A family atmosphere is the aim of Dr. Sandra Shrimankar's Excel Dental. According to Reeves, Shrimankar decided to open her own office after working in different clinics in the area and wanting to be closer to her home and two children. She accomplished that by finding a space in Traver Village Shopping Center, near Kroger.

"We are in the the best spot," says Reeves. "We have all the Kroger traffic, but we also have all of the senior complexes behind us. We've seen kids as young as three so far up to the 90s."

Excel Dental opened in April after a total renovation that began in February. The clinic currently employs a staff of four, and Reeves says she expects the staff will grow along with the clinic. They business is currently looking to hire one associate dentist. 

Source: Laura Reeves, Excel Dental 
Writer: Natalie Burg
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