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Blimpy Burger reopens with more seats, new jobs and same legendary burgers

It's been about 13 months since the Ann Arbor landmark Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger closed it's doors, and burger lovers can once again breathe easy: Blimpy Burger is back. The business reopened last week in its new location on Ashely. 

"So far, I've seen a lot of familiar faces," says Emily Magner, whose family owns Blimpy Burger. And the customers weren't the only familiar part of the shop's reopening. "We were able to replicate the Blimpy experience and the ordering experience that makes us so unique."

Though the burgers, diners and experience may be picking up right where they left off, one change in the new Blimpy Burger location is additional seating. With seats for more than 50 diners, they're up between 10 to 15 seats from the original location. As early as Monday of last week, financial supporters of the restaurant's new space were treated to sneak preview dining experience that Magner says was well deserved. 

"They were the key to us being here today," she says. "Not only did they support us in just helping with our morale, but they gave us incentive to make this happen."

Though still hiring and training employees Magner estimates the new Blimpy Burger will employ about 20 workers. She says though getting up and running is their first goal — the restaurant is currently operating on limited hours — long term goals for the business could include adding a catering component. 

Source: Emily Magner, Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger
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

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

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

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

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

Ganger Dermatology grows into new building, doubles staff in just two years

When Dr. Laura Ganger and her husband A.C. Ganger opened Ganger Dermatology in November of 2012, the goal was to create a different kind of practice. Less than two years later, their results are certainly out of the ordinary. They've grown from a small office of five staff into a new, 6,500 square foot location with four providers and 10 support staff, and a new satellite office in Wixom is forthcoming. 

"We decided to rethink everything we could," says A.C. Ganger. "It's paperless, high-tech and we really focus on the patient experience." 

That means patients rarely wait longer than five minutes for their appointment to begin, and never have to fill out a clipboard full of paperwork. Ganger Dermatology staff takes everything possible off of the patients' plate, from contacting insurance companies to working with pharmacies. 

"We build in buffer so patients don't end up waiting," Ganger says. "We see a lot fewer patients than the typical practice in a day, but we want to spend a lot of time with them."

That philosophy had Dr. Ganger booked out three months in advance after her first month in business. The growing practice moved to their current location on Huron Parkway in February after extensive renovations. Ganger plans to begin operations in their new Wixom location in mid-October. They hope to attract other medical specialists to join them in the 15,000 square foot facility. 

In addition to growing their business, Ganger Dermatology has also grown into the Ann Arbor community. They have sponsored such events as the Colors of Cancer run and The Event on Main. 

Source: A.C. Ganger, Ganger Dermatology
Writer: Natalie Burg

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

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

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

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

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
933 Ann Arbor Articles | Page: | Show All
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