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Ann Arbor : Development News

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Pita King brings Middle Eastern sandwiches to E. Stadium

Just across the parking lot from Trader Joe's, a new restaurant is hoping to attract some of the popular grocer's fresh, natural food-loving audience. Pita King joined the neighborhood on Dec. 17, offering a healthy, American twist on Middle Eastern sandwiches. 

"Because what we serve is so healthy and fresh, we thought it would be great location," says Assistant Manager Fidaa Kasham, who operates Pita King with her husband, manager Moe Shalabi. "We also use organic chicken that has no antibiotics. It's what we've been using at home for years, and we wanted to share it with others."

A family affair, Pita King is owned by Shalabi's father, and two of the sandwiches on the menu are named after the couple's children. A longtime restaurant worker, Kasham says her husband saw opening a restaurant as an opportunity to do the work he enjoys in a new way. 

"He's always loved the food industry," she says. "He never wanted to leave his spot, but he always said if he were ever to leave, it would be for his own place. We found this great location and felt very fortunate."

While diners will find familiar Middle Eastern titles on Pita King's menu, Kasham says the American twist comes in with the ingredients, including cheddar cheese, banana peppers, lettuce and tomato, as well as chicken. She and her husband currently operate the restaurant with the help of her brother-in-law. As their delivery service and business grows, they plan to hire a delivery driver and additional kitchen worker. 

Source: Fidaa Kasham, Pita King
Writer: Natalie Burg

The Lunch Room to open second downtown Ann Arbor location next week

Just a few years ago, The Lunch Room was but a food cart. As of next week, the popular vegan eatery will be an established and growing restaurant chain with two downtown locations. 

"The Kerrytown location probably wasn't big enough from the first day we moved in there," says co-owner Joel Panozzo of The Lunch Room's first permanent location, which opened in 2013. "We've been making things work, but on a weekly basis, we'd say no to large catering orders and wedding cakes and one thing after another. So we've been trying to figure out how we could say yes."

The answer turned out to be a second location with a larger baking space. The new restaurant in Huron Towers on Fuller Ct. will include a 1,037-square foot dining room and adjoining kitchen large enough for the owners to expand their baking operations enough to cover both locations, catering and wholesale orders.

The new Lunch Room will feature grab-and-go options to cater to the student and hospital worker crowds buzzing around Huron Towers, while the Kerrytown location will continue to focus on made-to-order meals. Sit-down dining, however, will definitely still be available at the new restaurant, in addition to their deli case offerings. 

"With the sandwiches, we'll unwrap it and grill it to order," says Panozzo. "We'll play and experiment with how far we can take the grab-and-go concept."

Panozzo expects to begin with a soft opening of the new location over this weekend, with doors officially opening some day next week. He and co-owner Phillis Engelbert plan to employ about 15 part- and full-time workers at the new restaurant.

Source: Joel Panozzo, The Lunch Room
Writer: Natalie Burg

Plum Market brings second store to Ann Arbor, 125 new jobs

A new grocery store planned for the former Cleary University property on Plymouth Rd. will be a familiar sight for many Ann Arbor shoppers. Plum Market, the Farmington Hills-based grocer that opened their first Ann Arbor location in 2008, aims to open the doors on a second area location in the space this fall. 

“This location will be the most exciting Plum Market yet!,” says CEO & Co-Founder of Plum Market Matt Jonna. “We have previously operated a store in this area, so we think of this as a homecoming and are very excited to return to the neighborhood with Plum Market.”

The new location will indeed be very nearby the former Merchant of Vino Marketplace, which was owned by Jonna’s father. The family’s Plum Market venture, which now operates four locations in Michigan and Illinois, is known for its commitment to local, fresh and sustainable produce. And their plans for growth won’t stop with the new Ann Arbor location.

“We plan to grow in the Midwest and continue to offer our guests the best selection of natural, organic, specialty, and local products,” Jonna says. “We are also opening a new location inside the Detroit Metropolitan Airport this fall.”

The new Plum Market will be 25,000 square feet. The company expect to employ 125 workers at the location when it opens this fall. 

Source: Matt Jonna, Plum Market
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Arbor Hills Crossing salon to offer fine art with hair artistry

Clair Broderick has long been an artist of hair, but she’s also a mixed-media, painting and crafts artist too. That collection of talents will all be on display at her new saline boutique, Sprig Hair Studio 21, in Arbor Hills Crossing. 

“I see my salon as a high-end, boutique salon,” says Broderick. ”Others that work with me in the space will have that skill and customer care for our clients as their absolute first priority.”

Sprig Hair Studio 21 opened on Jan. 6, though Broderick is developing her vision for the space as she works in it. She anticipates having her full line of products, including her own art and jewelry, in place by the end of February. 

“I have brought in local art by friends and myself to decorate along with a few vintage pieces,” Broderick says. “I am having custom work made by clients who were willing to help and trade for their fantastic abilities.”

In addition to herself, Broderick will work with two other stylists at Sprig Hair Studio 21. She is also looking for one additional employee. Her future plans include becoming involved in community efforts such as volunteering in schools, community events and non-profits. 

Source: Claire Broderick, Sprig Hair Studio 21
Writer: Natalie Burg

Three sisters, one new wedding-focused studio in downtown Ann Arbor

Julie Hill and her sisters Hannah Butler and Whitney Keeler have three distinct talents, and yet they've found a way to combine them into one business. Imagine Three Beauty Studio opened in November on E. Liberty in downtown Ann Arbor, offering what each sister does best: event hair styling, photography and makeup services. 

"We are just taking three of our talents and going with it," says Hill, who is the hairstylist of the trio. "If I'm working with clients, my sister can meet with her photography clients here, and they can see the work and flow of what we do on a daily basis."

Weddings are a natural fit for Imagine Three Beauty Studio, which offers a trio of needed services to brides and their wedding parties. Prior to opening their studio together late last year, Hill, Butler and Keeler met with wedding clients in a rented room, but the full studio allows them to expand their services and expose clients to each others' work. Though they specialize in weddings, they cater to an array of events. 

"We did a New Year's special," says Hill. "And through that, we ended up meeting two people who are getting married in the next year. Word spreads that way."

In addition to offering hair, makeup and photography services, Imagine Three Beauty Studio specializes in natural, organic, vegan and gluten-free products for clients with an interest or need in specialty hair products or makeup. They also plan to offer makeup and hair classes. In addition to the three sisters, the studio employs a client services coordinator, and Hill hopes to add another stylist and makeup artist in the near future. 

Source: Julie Hill, Imagine Three
Writer: Natalie Burg

Maize and Blue Deli plans second location on Main and Liberty

Fans of S. University's Maize and Blue Deli will have something new to cheer about on Main Street this spring. Coming in early March will be the longtime restaurant's second location on the other end of downtown. 

"We were trying to expand and we thought it was a great marketing opportunity to be right on Main Street," says Maize and Blue Deli's Hamsah Sukkar. "Honestly, it doesn't get better than Main and Liberty."

Work on the 1,600 square foot space has already begun. As the restaurant owners are starting with a completely empty space, there's much to do to transform a portion of the building once occupied by the Selo/Shevel Gallery into a deli. 

According to Sukkar, the deli will be very similar in both look and menu to the original Maize and Blue Deli location. He hopes the appeal of the locally-owned eatery will be as strong on Main Street as it has been on S. University.

"I'm a local, Ann Arbor resident trying to expand in my city, and hopefully we'll get some businesses supporting us," he says. "We're not a big franchise, so we're hoping to see a lot of local interest."

The new deli will seat between 50 and 55 diners and Sukkar estimates he will initially employ between five and 10 workers at the new restaurant. 

Source: Hamzah Sukkar, Maize and Blue Deli
Writer: Natalie Burg

Blue Lion Fitness to open on Stadium Ave this spring

Ryan Van Bergen and Danny Roth both love fitness and Ann Arbor, so it's appropriate that the friends who met at the University of Michigan are now the co-owners of the forthcoming Blue Lion Fitness, a gym with a team-approach to working out. Their gym opens on W. Stadium Blvd. in early spring. 

"For us, working out, is so much more than getting to gym, putting your headphones on and doing your own thing. You can only get so far that way," says Roth. "What we're doing really brings people together and gets rid of that fear of trying anything new and pushes them to the extreme."

The class-oriented gym will offer one-hour team training sessions including high-intensity interval training, strength and conditioning, core strength training, suspension training and plyometric training.

Renovations to the 4,000 square foot facility have just begun, and will include a complete reconstruction of the space with top-of-the-line equipment and astroturf flooring. The partners expect construction to be complete by early February and to open the facility between mid-March and early April.

"In the fitness industry, location is key," says Van Bergen. "We think it will be highly visible and  centrally located from all the high schools. I also like cruising down Stadium and passing the Big House on my way to work."

Blue Lion Fitness will employ three reception staff and a gym manager in addition to Van Bergen and Roth as trainers. The business will also place a focus on community involvement, offering clients a free one-hour session for five hours of community service in a month.

Source: Ryan Van Bergen and Danny Roth, Blue Lion Fitness
Writer: Natalie Burg 

Babo Market expands with 2 new locations in Nickels Arcade and on Boardwalk Dr.

It's been a busy year for babo, A Market by Sava. After opening babo: Farm Fresh Meals to Go on Boardwalk Dr. in late November, the Savco Hospitality company is launching babo: Real Food Fast in Nickels Arcade. Both locations will offer grab-and-go food options. 

"People have busy, hectic lives," says Joanne Navarre with marketing and public relations for Savco Hospitality. "The grab-and-go concept at babo makes it easier for people to have healthy meals and snacks."

In addition to offering grab-and-go food, the 9,600 square foot Boardwalk location will be home to Savco University, a meeting room for classes and staff training and babo Central Kitchen, which will serve as creation space for babo products and Savco Catering. 

The new location will give residents options for quick food for any time of day, says Navarre. 

"After work, when you’re thinking about what to serve for dinner, we can help with meal starters, side dishes, salad dressings, sauces, and great ideas to make dinner easy and delicious," she says. " In 2015, we’ll add packaged ice cream to the offerings."

Babo: Farm Fresh Meals to Go is now open on Ann Arbor's south side. The Nickels Arcade shop is opening soon. 

Source: Joanne Navarre, Savco Hospitality
Writer: Natalie Burg

Lua Makeup & Hair Studio celebrates grand opening in Arbor Hills Crossing

Lua Makeup & Hair Studio got its start just over a year ago when owner and stylist Dalal Farha decided to break out on her own and open a studio at Hair Essentials Salon Studios on Washtenaw Ave. Though her Dec. 6 move to Arbor Hills Crossing may not have been physically far, the expansion in to her own 450-square foot space represents a big step for Farha's growing salon. 

"I've been looking to get to that area and have been looking to expand," Farha says. "My clientele was getting bigger and I needed a larger space." 

The Saturday grand opening of the new Lua Makeup & Hair Studio location featured the launch of Farha's new oil bar. A longtime fan of oils, Farha creates oil cocktails for clients customized for their hair. Her mixes address various hair issues such as frizz, shine and growth. 

"I wanted to be a little different," she says. "There are eyebrow bars and blowout bars. We are starting something new that is exclusive to the area."

Lua Makeup & Hair Studio offers a variety of services. While Farha maintains the salon herself, she also provides space to a laser hair specialist at the studio as well. She hopes to continue to grow her business as well as launch her own oil product, Lua Midnight Oil. 

Source: Dalal Farha, Lua Makeup & Hair Studio
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ultra-efficient movement/performance studio proposed for N. Main St

Peter Woolf doesn't consider himself a developer, but everything else about his background and interests has led him to become just that. The former University of Michigan chemical engineering faculty member, human health-based software entrepreneur, as well as dance and movement hobbyist has proposed plans for an energy-efficient, 12,104-square foot movement and performance studio on N. Main called Moving on Main.

"My goal is less to create a building as a pile of bricks, but instead to create a symbiotic organism that works to connect and nourish the people that occupy it," says Woolf. "Some of this symbiosis involves environmental stewardship."  

Woolf's goal is for the building to produce all of its own electricity, and possibly use the rainwater as well. It will be built with materials that have "lower embodied energy," are recycled and recyclable. The Movement on Main business will include both large and small spaces for dance, circus arts, classes, lectures, micro-cinema, weddings and performance on the first floor. The second will include space massage and spa-type uses. Hostel space will also be included.

Woolf envisions such activities taking place Moving on Main as meditation, tango lessons, Japanese-style baths and massage. 

"There is no single place in Ann Arbor — or anywhere for that matter — where you can do all of this," he says, "so we are creating the space for the business."

Though the plans are just in the proposal stage, Woolf hopes for construction to begin in the spring of next year, and be complete by spring of 2016. He plans for Movement on Main to employ both eight to 12 human employees, as well as a virtual staff member named Sammi. 

Source: Peter Woolf, Moving on Main
Writer: Natalie Burg

Toledo-based architecture and planning firm to open Ann Arbor office

Downtown Ann Arbor's creative talent pool is set to grow deeper in 2015. Toledo-based architecture, design and planning firm The Collaborative has announced plans to open their second office at 206 S. Main St.

"One of our main goals in opening this new office is to become a integral part of downtown Ann Arbor as well as the University of Michigan," says The Collaborative Director of Marketing Brook Jones. "The Main Street location allows for just that."
Renovations on their space have already begun and some employees are already working there. The Collaborative aims to complete work by end of January and have a soft opening in late spring of next year. Renovations to the space include interior work and social workspaces.
"The Collaborative is an amazing place to work," Jones says. "We are a forward-thinking design company rooted in the belief that delivery of an excellent product will always set you apart."

The total number of jobs to be created by the new office is not yet known, though Jones says the firm is always looking for new talent. The new office will contribute to The Collaborative's plans to continue to grow their higher education and corporate client relationships, and to retain and recruit exceptional people.   
Source: Brook Jones, The Collaborative
Writer: Natalie Burg

VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System opens $2M heart value replacement suite

Before now, when veterans anywhere in the Midwest needed a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR procedure, they had to travel out of state or to a private hospital, as the minimally-invasive surgical procedure heart valve surgery wasn't available at a nearby VA hospital. With the opening of the $2M, 1,000-square foot TAVR Suite at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, that will now change. 

"Aortic stenosis is a disease of elderly patients and it's not uncommon," says Dr. Claire Duvernoy, professor of medicine
with University of Michigan Hospital and Health Systems and cardiology section chief for VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. "Because our veterans tend to have other, co-existing medical conditions, they may be too high risk for open heart surgery. This procedure was developed those for whom doing an open heart operation is too risky." 

Beginning in January, these veterans will have access to the TAVR procedure here in Ann Arbor. Duvernoy expects the suite will begin with about one procedure a week an ramp up to two to three each week over time. The VA Ann Arbor Healthcare Systems celebrated a ribbon cutting at the site this week. 

"This is a big step forward," Duvernoy says. "We have our first patient scheduled for January, to allow time for the room to be used and for everyone to get comfortable working there."

One nurse and one nurse practitioner will be hired to manage TAVR patients pre- and post-procedure. University of Michigan Hospital physicians with extensive experience with TAVR will be performing the procedures at the VA. Currently, the university hospital performs more TAVR procedures than any other facility in Michigan. Bringing this service to veterans in the Ann Arbor area and beyond is expected to open up the benefits of TAVR to many veterans with aortic stenosis who might otherwise not have qualified for help with their condition. 

Contact: Dr. Claire Duvernoy, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System
Writer: Natalie Burg

Arbor Hills Crossing gets Real Irish store

In a new Ann Arbor shopping center there's a new store, but it's actually been around town for more than a decade, selling crafts that carry on cultural traditions from much, much longer before. 

Real Irish got its start in a small kiosk downtown about 15 years ago. After taking its handmade, authentic Irish goods business online 10 years ago, owner Stuart Marley has now opened a new storefront in Arbor Hills Crossing. 

"I've thought I about doing retail again in Ann Arbor for some time," he says. "I appreciate Ann Arbor a lot, and I've lived here since 1993. But I've been reluctant to try it because of the overhead costs." 

The 800-square foot store was just the right opportunity for Real Irish to branch out into a physical location, not to mention being close to Marley's Ann Arbor home. The new store opened last week with offerings perfect for the holiday season.

"Throughout the winter we'll be focusing a lot on woolens and woolen clothing," Marley says. "At the end of January we'll decide what items to bring over after the wool season. I'm thinking pottery and home gifts and more Irish gifts as well."

Marley currently operates Real Irish with the help of family members, but plans to hire about two employees soon to help manage his new operations. He says the foot traffic in Arbor Hills Crossing has already brought in a good number of customers and he's looking forward to being a part of the community of businesses there. 

Source: Stuart Marley, Real Irish
Writer: Natalie Burg

New, 25-unit condo development planned for Kerrytown

If anyone needs proof that demand for downtown living is still on the rise in Ann Arbor, the announcement of Huron Contracting's third Kerrytown condo project in various stages of development should suffice. As his North Main condos near completion and the Kingsley Lane project should break ground in a few weeks, a new, 25-unit condo project has been proposed for N. First St. 

"We're excited," says Tom Fitzsimmons of Huron Contracting. "As long we we can continue to find land in or near Kerrytown and the demand remains strong we'll continue to develop. "

And people seem willing to continue to buy. The North Main development is sold out, and the Kingsley St. project is about 75 percent sold before groundbreaking. Similar to the previous projects, the new N. First development will include on-site parking and a mix of unique, one- to three-bedroom units ranging from 900 to 2,000 square feet each. 

"You're going to be two blocks from Kerrytown, and two to three blocks from downtown," says Fitzsimmons. "With parking on site, it's going to be a fantastic spot." 

Though prices for the new units have not yet been set, Fitzsimmons says his current near-downtown condos are selling for approximately $375 to $400 per square foot. Though the new plan is in the proposal stage, should all go well, Fitzsimmons hopes to break ground in late summer of next year and complete construction in 2016. 

Source: Tom Fitzsimmons, Huron Contracting
Writer: Natalie Burg

Massage Mechanics expands footprint, adds five new workers in Depot Town

Make no mistake, Massage Mechanics is not a spa. And that is working for them. The Depot Town business has been operating since 2011, and during that time it has grown from a 225 square foot space employing only the two owners to a 1,000 square foot operation with seven massage therapists. 

"Our big tagline is, 'We are not a spa.' We don't have the extras or do the fluff an buff massage," says Andrea Gruber, who owns Massage Mechanics with partner Becky Smith. "We're here to provide excellent quality therapeutic work to our area. We really want to help people and be a staple, not a luxury item. 

That means they can keep their prices affordable to those they feel need massage the most — working class people who are often on their feet or sitting at desks all day. That attitude has served them well. They moved from their original location more than two years ago into a larger space across Cross St., and this spring, expanded that 700 square foot space to accommodate even more growth. Since that time, they've added five additional massage contractors to their business. 

Smith and Gruber plan to continue the growth of Massage Mechanics with the same philosophy that had led to their current success: listening to the needs of the community. 

"Ultimately we want to keep growing as the customer base allows," Gruber says. "Every so often we look at the world around us to see that it needs."

Source: Andrea Gruber and Becky Smith, Massage Mechanics
Writer: Natalie Burg
959 Ann Arbor Articles | Page: | Show All
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