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Brookie's Cafe serves up affordable food in Ypsilanti

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chelsea gets new breakfast/lunch joint, Plaid Melon Cafe

Dave Gallinat has possessed two things for a long time: a desire to open his own restaurant and "plaidmelon" as an online nickname. Beginning on Sept. 17, those two facts took on a new meaning with the opening of Plaid Melon Cafe in Chelsea. 

"My wife worked in Chelsea for a number of years, so we were hanging around here a lot," says Gallinat, a resident of Manchester. "I saw a need for a breakfast place downtown - both breakfast and lunch, and I like Chelsea."

When he saw a 2,200 square foot storefront become available on Main St., he knew it was the right place to realize his dream. Plaid Melon Cafe focuses on quality ingredients, unique menu item and food made carefully and to order. 

"If you order the omelet, we're cracking the eggs," Gallinat says. "Our bread is coming from Stone Hearth down in Brooklyn, and there's no junk in it. I'm trying use good stuff. It takes a bit longer, but my omelets are a bit fluffier."

Gallinat operates the restaurant with a staff of six, and, with his son helping out and wife in charge of his graphic design and website, is building Plaid Melon Cafe to be a family business. ?

Source: Dave Gallinat, Plaid Melon
Writer: Natalie Burg

The Espresso Bar to grow into new home above Literati Bookstore

When The Espresso Bar first started, it was intended to fill a few months of Sanford Bledsoe's time before leaving town for a job in Houston. The pop-up cafe below The Bar at 327 Braun Court quickly became a neighborhood favorite, and Bledsoe decided to devote himself to the growing business. That growth will soon continue in a new space when The Espresso Bar moves to the new third floor of Literati Bookstore. 

Bledsoe had been acquainted with Literati owners Hilary and Mike Gustafson for some time. When their desire for a larger events space aligned with Bledsoe's thoughts on expanding and The Bar at Braun Court wanting to do more with with first floor, the idea of moving The Espresso Bar to an events/cafe/retail space above Literati was a win for everyone. 

"We've been talking with Literati for several months, and now we're moving forward and getting all our ducks in a row so we can move as quickly as possible," says Bledsoe. "We thought this was a great opportunity for everybody."

To prepare for the move, he recently hired one new employee, and intends to hire about three additional workers in the future. Though opening will be dependent on many factors including the time needed for the build-out, Bledsoe hopes to be open before Thanksgiving. 

Though in a new location, Bledsoe says his focus will always remain on serving excellent coffee and espresso drinks to customers with uniquely personal service.

"It frustrates me about the coffee shop industry is we treat our customers like they're spending three dollars," he says. "I think it's important to make people feel like they're spending a million dollars."?

Source: Sanford Bledsoe, The Espresso Bar
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ypsilanti parents have new childcare option with Visible Learning Center

Visible Learning Center is just a few weeks old, but the family who opened the new Ypsilanti childcare and education facility has decades of experience in the business. Hanan Dari co-owns the center with her father, Hisham Dari who has been in the childcare business for 21 years in Ann Arbor. When it came to opening a facility together, however, Ypsilanti just made sense. 

"We'd get phone calls from families who needed care, and there is a lot of care available in Ann Arbor," says Hanan Dari. "We wanted to expand in Ypsilanti because there is more need for care there." 

The 4,500 square foot Visible Learning Center opened on Sept. 15. In addition to childcare, children participate in a creative curriculum and assessments from birth to five years old. The center also offers expanded hours in the evenings to cater to families with non-traditional schedules. 

"A lot of families need to have evening care to finish their education," Dari says. "Some don't finish their bachelors or masters because they work in the morning and they don't have care at night when they would go to class."

Visible Learning Center accepts children from infancy to 12 years old, and has the capacity to care for up to 74 children. Dari says she hopes to continue to grow the facility and perhaps eventually open multiple locations. ?

Source: Hanan Dari, Visible Learning Center
Writer: Natalie Burg

Affordable fashions come to State St. with Verbena boutique

If you asked Kate Duerksen what she might be doing in August of 2014 a year ago, she wouldn't have guessed opening a retail store in downtown Ann Arbor. But what began as a small idea mentioned last winter to her father, owner of the former All About Blue store on State St., quickly grew into a plan when M Den offered to buy out All About Blue. 

"Part of that deal was that I would keep 1,500  square feet to do my own thing," says Duerksen. "It all happened really fast." 

The result was Verbena, a women's retail shop that opened on Aug. 15, offering clothes, accessories and some apartment decor such as succulents. With the store right on State St., Duerksen chose to keep her prices student-friendly.

"Everyone is happily surprised by our price point," she says. "We definitely still cater to the students with prices."

That hasn't limited her customer base. Since opening a month ago, Duerksen has served women of all ages in the shop. She hopes to soon expand her operations with e-commerce, and currently employs eight workers.

Source: Kate Duerksen, Verbena
Writer: Natalie Burg

Authentic Greek olive oil company grows into Ann Arbor storefront

Having gallons of pure, authentic Greek extra virgin olive oil around the house never seemed out of place for Grigorios Stamatopoulos, whose family has been farming olives and making oil for centuries in Greece. After bringing over an extra large supply and sharing it with some friends, however, he realized just how rare such high quality olive oil was to others. 

"They said that there was something different about my olive oil," Stamatopoulos says. "They thought I should start selling it."

A few years later, he began to do just that. His family in Greece began supplying him with the oil, and after bottling it, he began to sell it at a farmers market in Pittsfield Twp. After finding success there, he had market managers from all over the area approaching him to be a part of their market as well. 

While he will continue to offer his Stamatopoulos and Sons olive oil at area markets, that demand inspired him to look for a more permanent place to sell his products. In a couple of weeks, Colonnade Mall on E. Eisenhower will become that place as the first Stamatopoulos and Sons store opens in a 1,700 square foot space. 

"My goal in the beginning was just to raise awareness that in order to get the good stuff you have to know where it comes from," says Stamatopoulos. But people wanted to know where they could get this olive oil all the time."

What makes his olive oil different, he says, is it's purity. Accoriding to Stamatopoulos, so much of what is sold as extra virgin olive oil in stores are in fact olive oil blends, some of which aren't actually extra virgin. His oil, coming from his family's farm in Greece, is superior in a way people can taste. 

Stamatopoulos will offer a variety of olive oils in his store, at which he plans to employ a staff of five. He hopes to continue to grow his wholesale operations as he becomes established in retail as well. 

Source: Grigorios Stamatopoulos, Stamatopoulos and Sons
Writer: Natalie Burg

Saline studio dances into new, 4,000-square-foot space closer to downtown

It's been nine years since Robert Kubis took over Come Dancing, and since that time, the studio has fostered a great number of competitive and hobbyist ballroom dancers. Now the business is making a new kind of move, with a relocation to a 4,000 square foot studio on E. Michigan Ave. in Saline. 

"It's closer to downtown Saline, and we thought that might be more beneficial for us," says Kubis. "We will lower our monthly expenses. It is a good deal for us." 

That's an exceptional deal, considering the new home of Come Dancing will be 500 square feet larger than the last, giving teachers and students a full 2,300 square feet of dance floor. The expanded space will allow Kubis and his instructors to continue their commitment to serving both casual and competitive dancers. 

"We are a studio that has produced a lot of competitive dancers," he says. "Ballroom has lots of competition across around the country and we are probably one of the best competitive studios in the area, and even of Michigan. That is about the quality of our teachers."

Kubis is now in the process of transitioning from his former location to the new. He plans to open for classes and the beginning of October, and complete his renovations by the end of that month. 

Source: Robert Kubis, Come Dancing
Writer: Natalie Burg

Longtime barista breaks into entrepreneurship with Carrigan Cafe

When it opens this Friday, Carrigan Cafe will be Saline's newest coffee spot, but it will come with lots of coffee know-how. Karen Carrigan, who will open the cafe with her husband Jason Carrigan brings her experience as a barista at the former Drowsy Parrot Coffee Shop and Brewed Awakenings Cafe, as well as a degree in hospitality. 

"I've always wanted to do my own business, I just didn't know what," says Carrigan. "Over the years, aging and experiences I've worked in so many different restaurants and kitchens, and coffee is just where I was the happiest. I think it's the interaction with the people."

Though Carrigan Cafe isn't yet open in the space formerly occupied by My Favorite Cafe, Carrigan has already had the opportunity to interact with some of the people who could become her future customers.

"I was out the past two Saturdays passing out coffee, meeting new faces and seeing some of the faces from my previous work," she says. "It's nice to say 'hey' to them again." 

Though some of her vendors and offerings will be the same as My Favorite Cafe, Carrigan will serve Coffee Express beans from Plymouth and will use other local vendors such as Ed's Bread, Benny's Bakery. Carrigan Cafe will open with a staff of five. The cafe website will go live soon. 

Source: Karen Carrigan, Carrigan Cafe
Writer: Natalie Burg

Taste Kitchen to bring locally sourced yet global cuisine to Liberty

Though the owners of the new restaurant coming into the W. Liberty location vacated by sushi place Tamaki will be the same, that's about the only thing Taste Kitchen will have in common with its predecessor. The new, multi-faceted eatery will offer light breakfast, light lunch, afternoon tea service and fine dining in the evenings, all under the theme of thinking globally and acting locally. 

"We aren't pigeonholing ourselves into a certain kind of food," says Michelle Hinze, pastry chef and general manager for Taste Kitchen. "Our menu is going to be fresh and vegetarian and vegan friendly. If we feel like cooking Thai one day, we'll do that. If we want to cook  African the next week, we'll do that." 

The ever-changing menu will be sourced as locally as possible. According to Hinze, their priority is to use ingredients first from Michigan, and then within a 200 mile radius when possible. The ambiance of the restaurant will move from casual dining early in the day and during afternoon tea service, and then move into a more formal experience at night. 

"We want to hit as many target markets as we can," Hinz says. "Our location provides us great access to the college students, and we want to step things up for dinner service to draw in other clientele from the Ann Arbor area." 

The goal is to open Taste Kitchen in about two weeks. Hinze expects to hire 10-15 staff members to operate the restaurant. Future plans include getting involved with the community and partnering with local artists and musicians. 

Source: Michelle Hinze, Taste Kitchen
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Braun Ct. cafe to be whatever patrons make of it

The owners of the Bar at 327 Braun Court are about to launch a new offering at the same address. The Ground Floor Cafe, which will open this week in the location indicated by its name, will offer espresso drinks, wine and beer and light foods such as panini sandwiches and house-made pastries. 

"This will be much more like a cafe than the Espresso Bar," says owner Eric Farrell, referring to the pop-up business that recently relocated from the space. "We'll have people eating, having some drinks and hanging out - a place to linger and meet people. Hopefully people kind of make it their own and figure out what they want the space to be." 

In the two weeks since the Espresso Bar left, Farrell has been working on light cosmetic upgrades to the space to prepare it for its new purpose. 

"The room before was pretty spartan," he says. "It was always intended to be a pop up. We're just upping the aesthetics a little bit. I think it's going to be a welcoming space. I've added some color and texture to the room."

Farrell expects the Ground Floor Cafe to open this week. He's hired a staff of three, including the talents of former Zingerman's Next Door and Mighty Good barista Dana Blaisdell. He also anticipates the offerings of the cafe to evolve and grow with the business, just as the Bar at 327 Braun Court has evolved over the years. 

Source: Eric Farrell, Ground Floor Cafe
Writer: Natalie Burg

Mentor2Youth grows into Ypsilanti office space, looks to add staff

While in graduate school at Michigan State University, Emmanuel Jones conducted a study to determine the impact of mentorship on the grades and behavior of middle school aged children. His findings led him to a new career. The positive results inspired him to create Mentor2Youth, a non-profit organization serving kids primarily in the Ypsilanti area. Three years later, the growing organization has found a new home in the newly renovated Ypsilanti Town Center on Ecorse. Rd. 

"I felt this location would be prefect because there's not really a lot of support services on that side of town," says Jones. "Being on a bus line allows families who might not have transportation to come learn more about our programs." 

And Mentor2Youth needs the space. What began as one program serving 15 student has grown into multiple programs during the school year and summer offered in multiple locations, having 350 kids so far. Programs include everything from life skills and career planning to fun field trips the students wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to experience. 

"We want them to get thinking long term about what they wan to do with their lives," Jones says. "We try to expose students to their potential and what they're capable of doing."

The new office will help support six to 10 part-time staff Jones hopes to soon hire to help manage the growing program. Through the help of grants, he plans to eventually expand his staff to include permanent employees. As the organization is always in need of volunteers, in-kind and financial contributions and other means of support, those interested in helping out can find more information on Mentor2Youth.com 

Source: Emmanuel Jones, Mentor2Youth
Writer: Natalie Burg

Coval Fitness expands into 4,500 sq ft Phoenix Dr. space

Coval Fitness and Sports Performance has been on a growth path for some time. After growing its staff last year, the semi-private fitness and sports performance facility has relocated to a new, 4,500 square foot location on Phoenix Dr. 

"We expanded due to a growing client base and because we wanted to have a space that fit with our vision," say owner Mike Coval. "In a nutshell, our vision is to have a high-end facility that clients can come to for their fitness and performance needs, massage therapy, physical therapy, and nutrition coaching."

Prior to opening in May, Coval renovated the new space to include a bathroom with a shower and two changing rooms, in addition to cosmetic renovations. His next step will to be to get rid of the drop ceiling. The new location he says, will allow Coval Fitness and Sports Performance to mode their vision. 

"Its also ideal because once this building is full, there will be so many other companies that we share the space with," he says. "This allows for more exposure and opportunities to connect with people."

Though his staff remains at four employees, the continued growth of the business has expanded their hours. Coval's three-year vision includes becoming go-to fitness and sports performance center in the Ann Arbor area. 

Source: Mike Coval, Coval Fitness & Sports Performance
Writer: Natalie Burg

Dance with Heart studio to bring dance to Manchester

Anya Noveskey had long wanted to make a career out of dance, then a hip injury derailed her plans. But even after putting down her dream to study counseling and receiving a masters degree, it only took a few years of returning to dance as an instructor to resurrect her original plan. Now fully certified to teach dance, Noveskey is opening her own studio, Dance with Heart Studios, in Manchester this week. 

"I want to be a different type of studio," Noveskey says. "I really want to teach the passion of dance and the feeling it can give you. I want to kids to learn how to act appropriately and kind, and still get to their goals without having the negative feelings that can come with competitiveness."

Noveskey began dancing and also taught dance in Adrian. When looking for a place to open her own studio, she found Manchester had fewer dance offerings than other communities in the area. In addition to offering classes in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern dance, musical theater, yoga and Zumba, she plans to give the community different ways to experience dance. 

"I have ideas about movie nights, to play a full-length ballet to educate the community," she says. "A lot of people don't realize what you can do with dance. You can make it a career if you want to."

Dance with Heart will open this week on Main St. in Manchester. Noveskey and her sister will teach the dance classes, and will be joined by two Zumba and one yoga instructor. She hopes to grow the business enough to expand into a second studio in the basement of her current location. 

Souce: Anya Noveskey, Dance with Heart
Writer: Natalie Burg

Study finds demand for 1,800 more residential units in downtown Ann Arbor

The recent rush of new residential buildings in downtown Ann Arbor might lead some to believe that the 716 more units under development might overkill. Those folks might be surprised to learn that a new study commissioned by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority has found that not only are those apartments and condos needed, but by 2019, 1,800 more housing units will be needed to meet downtown demand. 

Not surprised by this is the DDA itself. According to DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay, they hear from people all the time who want to live downtown but found the number of available units to be low. A study like this, Pollay says, not only gives the DDA the ability to advocate for the kind of development needed downtown, but also demonstrates demand for future developers, such as the need for 90,000 to 100,000 square feet of additional office space. 

"It gets the numbers out there -  vacancy is lower all the time and office rents continue to rise," she says. "While we may not see a new office building immediately, these numbers help to communicate to developers and business owners to keep an eye on things, because there is a growing opportunity in downtown Ann Arbor."

Also mentioned in the report is an average price tag of $1,500 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Ann Arbor, which is out of reach for households earning between 50 and 80 percent of downtown's Area Median Income. Study author 4ward Planning attributes the elevated rents to the growing desirability of living there. Whether or not meeting the demand with additional units will result in more affordable options, Pollay says, is difficult to tell. A forthcoming Washtenaw County Housing Needs Assessment will hopefully shed more light on the topic later this year. 

Source: Susan Pollay, Ann Arbor DDA
Writer: Natalie Burg

Real Ryder Revolution relocates cycling studio, expands number of classes

Just five years old, Real Ryder Revolution indoor cycling studio has already grown to four locations in Birmingham, West Bloomfield, Chicago and Ann Arbor. After first operating on N. Main for three years, the Ann Arbor location will soon be even closer to its core clientele with a new studio on E. University. 

"We wanted to be as close to campus as possible," says Leslee Blatnikoff, owner of Real Ryder Revolution. "We just want to feature it more toward the students." 

The approximately 1,500 square foot E. University location will open next week. The new location will offer an expanded number of classes for the 18-bike studio. The business is now running a pre-grand opening special on classes. The goals of Real Ryder Revolution, says Blatnikoff, will remain the same in their new space.

"We just want to make sure it's busy and we can give the students the workouts they want, and continue to be good, healthy influence in the fitness arena," she says. 

Real Ryder Revolution operates with eight to ten instructors. Updates on the business and new studio can be found on the business's Ann Arbor Facebook page.

Source: Leslee Blatnikoff, Real Ryder Revolution
Writer: Natalie Burg
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