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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

Wolverine State Brewing Co expands operations in Ann Arbor

Wolverine State Brewing Co grew its kitchen last year and is planning on expanding the rest of its business this year.

The Ann Arbor-based brewery specializes in producing, which means it requires more time and resources to produce its brews. The 8-year-old craft brewery opened up its own tap room on West Stadium Boulevard in the old Big George's space in 2010. Last December it added a kitchen, which meant it needed to hire another six people to serve as kitchen staff. It now employs 18 people.

"It's like two totally different businesses," says Josh Evans, house manager for Wolverine State Brewing Co. "In terms of the way it runs, the way it looks, it's just so much more polished."

He adds that the expansion prompted Wolverine State Brewing Co to become more professional in its appearance and operations. That is setting the table for an even bigger expansion for the brewery later this year. The firm currently produces 2,200 barrels of beer a year, a number Evans expects to go up significantly next year.

"We plan on ratcheting that up substantially in 2015," Evans says. "We're expanding everything but the retail space. Basically everything you don’t see."

Source: Josh Evans, house manager for Wolverine State Brewing Co
Writer: Jon Zemke

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Great Lakes Cycling moves to new, permanent location on Stadium

What was once a building that serviced cars is now the new home of Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness - a transition owner Oscar Bustos finds appropriate, given how many Ann Arborites are choosing cycling over driving. For him, the new Stadium Blvd. location was an opportunity to find a permanent home for his business, something he'd been pursuing for some time.

"We'd been trying to buy our previous building, but the owner was unable to sell it," Bustos says. "We wanted to purchase a building, and this was a good fit. Our basic model is a shell, a big open environment, so it worked out well. We just gutted it."

After months of renovations, Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness opened in the 8,000 square foot building in early June. With the change in location, Bustos has also taken on some new brands. For the most part, however, he says the service and staff people have come to expect from his former location are the same in the business's new home. 

So far, the reaction has been positive.

"Things have been going great," says Bustos. "Our traffic count is a lot higher on this side of town, so our visibility is improved. We're very happy with it."

Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness is open seven days a week, from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekdays, 10:00am to 6:00pm on Saturdays and noon to 6:00 pm on Sundays. 

Source: Oscar Bustos, Great Lakes Cycling
Writer: Natalie Burg

Motawi Tileworks to expand into downtown retail at Ann Arbor Art Center

Retail is nothing new for Motawi Tileworks. The art tile company has been selling their tiles online at at their Enterprise Dr. location in Ann Arbor for some time, in addition to their wholesale work. But owner Nawal Motawi decided it was time to investigate retail in a more visible location. 

"Every once in a while it dawns on me how hard to find our place on Enterprise really is," Motawi says. "But looking at the parts of our business that are most successful, our retail has been quite successful." 

Opening a dedicated retail location in downtown Ann Arbor can be expensive, however, so Motawi is partnering with the Ann Arbor Art Center to ease into the downtown retail game. Beginning in late August, about 500 square feet of the Center will be dedicated to Motawi Tileworks, which will be merchandized by the tile company. 

Though the tile will be sold on consignment like any other art sold at the center, Motawi will share the cost of staffing with the Ann Arbor Art Center and the dedicated space and control over their inventory will help Motawi experiment with downtown retail location. 

"They're feeling really great about it because it's a different way of helping a local artist, so it's still true to their mission," Motawi says. "And really, I want to learn by doing. It would be a great thing to see it grow into own space, and to see if the concept is strong, and if it can be started in other locales."

Motawi Tileworks enthusiasts will find extra incentive to visit the downtown location, as Motawi says she'll market test new tiles there, as well as host periodic events during which visitors can watch tiles being created. 

Motawi hopes to begin operations in the Ann Arbor Art Center space on Aug. 20 and celebrate a grand opening Sept. 5. 

Source: Nawal Motawi, Motawi Tileworks
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ann Arbor Running Company to open in Oak Valley Shopping Center

Ian Forsyth and Nick Stanko met as cross country runners at the University of Michigan, and they've been friends ever since. They've also both stayed connected to running through their careers, and those ties will become even deeper as the now business partners prepare to open their first venture: Ann Arbor Running Company

"We think we have a lot to offer," says Forsyth. "We can give advice on any kind of training. No tricks, no gimmicks, just a nice place to go and get advice and get shoes, and a comfortable place to be."

That place will be located in the Oak Valley Shopping Center. Forsyth says they chose the location because it's one side of town without a running store currently, and because they expect growth in the area will bring more traffic to the store. 

"We looked around a bunch of different places, including different cities. I heard from numerous people that Jackson was a good place to go, but Nick was very passionate about Ann Arbor," Forsyth says. "Running is a huge thing in Ann Arbor these days."

The 3,200 square foot Ann Arbor Running Company will feature handmade racks and furnishings. Renovations on the space are underway, and Forsyth hopes to open the shop by early August. Though he and Stanko will initially run the store themselves, he anticipates hiring three full-time employees and a few part-time employees during their first year. 

Source: Ian Forsyth, Ann Arbor Running Company
Writer: Natalie Burg

Grand Rapids-based HopCat to open in downtown Ann Arbor, create 140 new jobs

A Grand Rapids favorite that has been popping up across Michigan will soon make an appearance in downtown Ann Arbor. BarFly Ventures, the firm behind more than one popular Grand Rapids bar recently announced their fifth HopCat location will open at 311-315 Maynard Ave. The $2 million investment in the former Borders space will result 140 new local jobs.
"Ann Arbor is such a great town for dining, entertainment and culture, it was a really logical fit," says Chris Knape, marketing and communications director for Barfly Ventures. "We think that adding HopCat to the mix will add to the excitement downtown." 

Just when Ann Arborites though they'd seen it all, HopCat will offer the largest draft system in the city with 100 varieties of craft beer on tap. A year after opening in East Lansing, work will soon begin on the 8,600 square foot space. But visitors to other HopCat locations shouldn't expect to see a cookie cutter remake.

"We're going to completely gut the space and add a unique design to it," says Knape. "Whenever we open a new location, each place feels different. Ann Arbor is going to feel a lot different from the location in East Lansing, just like East Lansing feels different from Grand Rapids."

The Ann Arbor HopCat is expected to open in January of 2015.  

Source: Chris Knape, HopCat
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ann Arbor native revives Blue Front with craft beer focus

The life of a longtime Ann Arbor establishment is getting extended and refreshed with the reopening of the Blue Front on Packard under new ownership and a new look. Ann Arbor native Adam Gottschalk opened his completely renovated version of the beer store last week after receiving a hot tip about the business opportunity just five months ago from his father. 

"It's been kind of a weird and very quick journey," says Gottschalk, whose parents manage the residential units above the store. "My dad said, 'Blue Front closed, why don't you move back and open up your own store? You have to decide by Monday.'"

Gottschalk was already following his passion for beer working for a beer retailer in Chicago, so it didn't take much for he and his wife to make the decision to take the leap. Since then, the approximately 1,500 square foot building has been totally renovated, including new floors, walls, ceilings, coolers and more. 

"People are always saying, 'I used to come in there all the time,'" Gottschalk says. "We want it to be that again. We're trying to bring back that neighborhood feel."

Along with that cozy aesthetic, the new Blue Front offers about 600 different beers and 150 wines. Gottschalk hopes to eventually expand his wine selection more, as well as offer weekly beer tastings in the shop. He recently hired his first employee, and expects to hire one to two additional staff members in the future. 

Source: Adam Gottschalk, Blue Front
Writer: Natalie Burg

Rock Paper Scissors keeps retail on Main Street with new Bed & Butter shop

Lisa Roberts loves being a part of the retail scene on Main Street with her shop Rock Paper Scissors — so much so, that she'll soon open her second venture on street, Bed & Butter

"As we've grown, we've listened to our customers, and we've heard they'd love to have a place to get a great wedding gift or get a great baby gift," says Roberts. "We thought it was a natural progression for us to offer great gifts for people."

Though the opportunity to take over the space soon to be vacated by La Belle Maison only came about recently, Roberts says the idea to create a store around home goods, kitchen, baby items and gifts has been in the works for years. The focus of Bed & Butter, she says, will be to sell items that are as beautiful as they are useful. 

Key to Roberts's decision to open her new store on Main was her desire to keep retail an important piece of the downtown business mix. 

"We love being a part of Main Street in Ann Arbor," she says. "We're so excited to have the opportunity to provide people with a place to shop locally. As Main Street continues to change, one thing we hope to contribute to a great mix of retail and restaurants."

The 333 S. Main store is approximately the same size as Rock Paper Scissors, and Roberts hopes to open by the Wolverine's first home football game in late August. A store manager has already been hired, and Roberts estimates four to six additional employees will join the team. Roberts also plans to eventually add classes to Bed & Butter's offerings, such as calligraphy and cocktails. 

Source: Lisa Roberts, Bed & Butter
Writer: Natalie Burg

Grillcheezerie brings fancy cheese, artisan bread and new jobs to Packard

It's hard to imagine anything better than a grilled cheese sandwich made with gourmet cheese and artisan bread, but Nick Costos has one idea: having that toasty, gooey sandwich delivered right to your door. Grilled cheese delivery, as well as dine-in eating, is coming to Packard St. in August with Grillcheezerie Sandwich Shoppe

"We're so used to American cheese and Wonder Bread," says Costos, who previously owned Mr. Greek's Coney Island. "We're going to use artisan bread and different types of cheddars, munsters, goudas, provolones and other specialty cheeses, and then coming up with different signature sandwiches." 

Those could include pizza-style grilled cheeses with pepperoni or wild mushroom with pesto, parsley and goat cheese. Costos came up with the idea after living in Montreal for the past eight years and being inspired by the small cheese shops and bakeries there.

"I've always wanted to get back into the business," he says. "And I love this town. I don't think you can get this vibe in too many places." 

The 1,500 square foot Packard St. space is now under renovation, which Costos hopes to complete by the end of the month. He plans to open Grillcheezerie the first or second week of August. The restaurant will initially employ a staff of about four, and will offer dine-in seating for 12 to 15 diners, as well as delivery.

Source: Nick Costos, Grillcheezerie Sandwich Shoppe
Writer: Natalie Burg

Renovated Sushi.com to reopen as Miya with new foods and larger staff

Sushi.com closed its doors on June 4, but fans of the restaurant need not worry. It's soon to return as Miya, a Japanese and Korean food restaurant with a new look, new staff and new foods... as well as most of the old favorites. 

"We did the renovation for the whole restaurant," says owner Don Kim. "Everything is changed to a modern, Japanese style. We're building a whole new restaurant."

Kim says the menu will largely be the same but with the addition of some new appetizers and a wider selection of Korean foods than were offered previously. He decided on the name Miya, as that is how most Americans pronounce his wife's name, and it also translates in Japanese to "palace."

One thing that will definitely stay the same, says Kim, is his commitment to quality, healthy food.

"We are try to make everything fresh," he says. "It's clean and fresh and high quality food. Everyone knows Korean and Japanese food is healthy, and healthy is our main concern." 

The total renovation of the space began a few months ago, and Kim expect work to be completed and the restaurant open within about a week. The 1,300 square foot space will seat about 55 diners. Kim is now hiring two to three additional employees to staff Miya. A new website for the restaurant is forthcoming. 
Source: Don Kim, Miya
Writer: Natalie Burg

Jersey Mike's brings East Coast taste and 20 jobs to Ann Arbor

When Peter Shipman and Mike Wagner opened their first Jersey Mike's Subs on Carpenter Rd. in 2012, it was also the first of its kind in Michigan. The franchise now has 11 locations in the state and the Ann Arbor natives have opened their third, in Westgate shopping center. 

"We're just looking to expand as quickly as we can, but also taking our time to choose a good area," says Wagner, who is an operating partner with franchisee Shipman. "It was the right time in terms having space available in Westgate."

The Huron and Pioneer High School graduates blend the authentically East Coast sub style of fresh baked New Jersey bread, hand-sliced meats and cheeses and a vinegar and oil blend with Ann Arbor sensibilities of getting fresh produce from local supplier Frog Holler. Getting friendly with local customers is also a part of their store culture.

"We make our subs in front of the customers, and we like to get to know them," Wagner says. "We encourage banter back and forth. We like to think we give friendly service."

The new Jersey Mike's in Westgate opened last weeks after six to eight weeks of renovation work to the former pet shop space. The restaurant seats about 30 diners and employs a staff of about 20. Wagner and Shipman also own a location in Canton and plan to continue to expand their business.

Source: Mike Wagner, Jersey Mike's
Writer: Natalie Burg

Lucky's Market to bring value-oriented natural food to S. Industrial

There's no doubt that the Ann Arbor has a demand for healthy, natural foods. But with so many upscale grocers catering to that market, Boulder, CO-based Lucky's Market saw an opportunity to offer something that different: a natural foods at a lower price. 

"Ann Arbor also shares our love of quality, local foods and products—but also in bettering the community through doing good, which benefits all of us," says Lucky's Market founder Bo Sharon. "Moreover, there are no value oriented natural supermarkets in Ann Arbor, so we felt we would be a positive addition.

Lucky's Market is slated to open in the 32,000s square foot space on S. Industrial formerly occupied by Kroger. A complete remodel of the space will include the addition of a juice bar, scratch bakery, butcher shop, produce section with roll-up garage doors and more.

"Lucky’s is a special kind of store," Sharon says. "It’s a place people tell us they enjoy shopping. It’s fun. It’s helpful…It’s a true community experience."

The new store is slated to open in the first quarter of next year with about 150 employees. According to Sharon, the store demonstrates its commitment to employees as well as the community with employee benefits and paid community volunteer hours. The store will also feature tours, classes and food events with live music.

Source: Bo Sharon, Lucky's Market
Writer: Natalie Burg

Beer Grotto plans second tasting and retail location in downtown Ann Arbor

As the first Beer Grotto prepares to open in Dexter next week, owner Sam Short is already working to open the craft beer and wine retail and tasting concept's second location on S. Ashley in downtown Ann Arbor. 

"It's an ideal location, right across the street from Grange, and all of these other wonderful businesses," says Short. "And more importantly, the building is just so unique. We don't usually have a patio arrangement, but we're changing our concept slightly so we can serve out on the patio." 

The 1,500 square foot space won't be seeing too much renovation on the exterior, as preserving on the building's historic integrity is an important factor for Short. On the inside, however, decades of former renovation work will be peeled back to take the interior back to some of its original features. 

"We want to maintain some of the spectacular historic elements of building," Short says.

Similar to the Dexter location, the Beer Grotto will offer beer and wine for purchase as well as tastings, with seating for enjoying a beverage at the store, including the patio, which will be unique to the Ann Arbor store. Wine and 48 beers will be on draft for customers to take home in growlers. 

Short intents for renovations to begin in the next two to three weeks with the hope of opening by mid-September. He plans to hire 10 to 15 employees to operate the Ann Arbor Beer Grotto, and will open at least one more Michigan location this year in Lansing. 

Source: Sam Short, Beer Grotto
Writer: Natalie Burg

New U-M apparel and gifts coming to State St. with The Victors Collection

For some time now, the owners of M Den have had their eyes on some pretty cool new merchandise they've been wanting to offer customers — they just didn't have the room for them. After coming to an agreement with their State St. neighbor, All About Blue, they'll now be expanding into the 3,000 square foot space with a new M Den shop called The Victors Collection.

"We'll be able to bring a collection of women's fashions that people have never seen before," says M Den co-owner Scott Hirth. "It's just going to knock people's socks off. That's our goal, to do a bette job for Michigan ladies." 

Though the shop will begin at about 70 percent men's apparel and 30 percent women's, Hirth says that breakdown will eventually move to 60 percent female and 40 percent male. In addition to fashion forward apparel, customers will find crystal glassware, Swiss watches, genuine pearls and in blue and yellow, as well as other fine goods. 

"There will be a little bit more of a business causal feel for both men and women," says Hirth of The Victors Collection merchandise. "Brooks Brothers will be a big partner at the store."

Renovation is now underway at The Victors Collection space, with a goal of being open by the time students arrive in August. Hirth expects to hire one or two full-time and 10 to 20 part time staff to operate the new store. The Victors Collection will be the sixth M Den location. 

Source: Scott Hirth, M Den
Writer: Natalie Burg

Peachy Fitness opens on Huron Pkwy with Zumba, yoga and more

As an adult, Zaini Lateef has learned a lot about fitness and nutrition, but she doesn't want her kids — or any others, for that matter — to wait that long to get healthy. That's why she started Peachy Fitness, a fitness business offering Zumba, yoga, dance and more to both kids and adults. 

"We have teen yoga class, kids' Zumba, kids' yoga, mother-daughter classes, and in the fall I will have more," says Lateef. "My goal and my passion is to have more kids classes, and brining some nutrition classes in as well."

After hosting classes in various locations around town for two years, Leteef recently opened a permanent space on S. Huron Pkwy. for better visibility and to grow her business. 

"For people coming from Ann Arbor, and even from Saline, it's a pretty central location," she says.

Lateef began adult classes in the approximately 1,100 square foot space last week, and will kick off children's programming with an open house on Saturday. In addition to regular classes, summer camps for children will be offered throughout the summer. 

Peachy Fitness offers many classes and special events for adults as well, including Zumba fundraising events, corporate fitness classes and Zumba bachelorette parties. Lateef employs about seven different instructors to teach her various classes and events.

Source: Zaini Lateef, Peachy Fitness
Writer: Natalie Burg
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