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The Paint Station brings entertainment and education to amateur artists

Entrepreneurs Kendra Wilkins and Katrina Vaughn are out to prove that anyone can enjoy the fun and artistic expression of being a painter – with or without proven art skills. At their new business, The Paint Station, patrons can join classes or arrange painting events with friends during which an artist leads attendees through the process of completing a painting. 
 
"I haven't painted since elementary school," says Vaughn, pointing to a lovely painting she completed in one of her business' classes. "I'm surprised by my own talent. If I can do it, you can too."
 
Though not artists themselves, Wilkins and Vaughn know a thing or two about business and teaching. Wilkins has taught business marketing for Detroit Public Schools and in Ann Arbor, and Vaughn currently teaches social studies for Ann Arbor Tech High School. 
 
"Teaching economics, I talk to the kids about the economy and business," says Vaughn. "Instead of just talking about it, I thought we should do it ourselves." 
 
The Paint Station opened above Panera Bread on Washtenaw Ave. on Sept. 6. The partners work with three artists who instruct the classes and parties. People can choose between attending a pre-scheduled class in which the painting has already been chosen, or, if scheduling a private event, they may select a painting from The Paint Station gallery. 
 
Wilkins and Vaughn hope the Ann Arbor area finds the paint studio to be a fun place to create and make memories. Their private events are ideal for girls' nights out, team-building sessions for businesses and family outings. Eventually, the pair would like to expand to multiple locations and franchise their business. 

Source: Kendra Wilkins and Katrina Vaughn, The Paint Station
Writer: Natalie Burg

Unique healing and health experiences offered at Shakti Yoga and Massage

A new business on Fourth Ave. is bringing a new kind of yoga and massage services to downtown Ann Arbor. Shakti Yoga and Massage specializes in massage for spinal injuries and desk workers, as well as incorporates community outreach into their business. 
 
"It's been going really well," says co-owner Leah Kasle of the new business. "Our yoga classes are growing. We just did a Groupon, and I had a quite few people buy massage packages right after using it."
 
A former massage therapist for the University of Michigan, Kasle partnered with yoga instructor Nicole Teufel to expand her clientele. They were drawn to the 1,300 square foot space on Fourth Ave. after looking for about six months. 
 
"We got really lucky when we found this space," Kasle says. "It is a little bit small for Nicole's student body, but it has a storefront, and it's on a first floor."
 
Kasle's massage techniques focus on spinal and rotator cuff injuries, as well as aches and pains common among those who work at desks for long periods of time. Two additional massage therapists and one additional yoga instructor work for Shakti Yoga and Massage.
 
The studio celebrated its grand opening two weeks ago. In addition to massage and yoga classes Shakti Yoga and Massage offers free self-defense classes for women in need.

Source: Leah Kasle, Shakti Yoga and Massage 
Writer: Natalie Burg

Maple Village will be home to new Bikram yoga studio

Bikram Yoga changed Lora Rosenbaum's life 13 years ago, and she's been committed to bringing others to the practice ever since. After the hot yoga regime inspired her to quit smoking and become healthier, she became a certified teacher, offered the first Bikram Yoga classes in Michigan, and is now opening a new studio in Maple Village Shopping Center, Bikram Yoga Ann Arbor West
 
"I think that the demographics in Ann Arbor support two studios," says Rosenbaum, who recently sold her eastside studio, Bikram Yoga Ann Arbor to open the new location. "It's the same type of yoga, all the teachers will be certified to teach Bikram Yoga, we just have different ownership." 
 
The 4,000 square foot studio will offer a large practice area, lounge, men's and women's showers, patio area and more to create a space for healing and relaxation. The Maple Rd. location appealed to Rosenbaum because of its size, parking, as well as proximity to Plum Market
 
"I think that this is a great space for the health conscious people on the west side," Rosenbaum says. "I like to be able lead yoga and go get a juice from Plum. It's also a really pretty space that has nice eastern exposure."
 
Work on Bikram Yoga Ann Arbor West began about a month ago, and Rosenbaum hopes to begin classes in November. Her classes are available on a drop-in basis, and she says every class is suitable for beginners, as well as all levels of yoga practitioners. Rosenbaum anticipates bringing in additional instructors to teach classes as the studio gets closer to opening.  
 

Source: Lora Rosenbaum, Bikram Yoga Ann Arbor West
Writer: Natalie Burg

Today Clothing brings men's attire to Fourth Ave. retail community

In his previous job in the wholesale business, Kevin Pearson used to travel frequently. It was during these trips that he typically did his apparel shopping, as he just couldn't find the types of clothes he wanted in Ann Arbor. Now that he and partner Eric Harden have opened Today Clothing on Fourth Ave., he doesn't have to go far at all. 
 
"There are stores similar to this around the world, but we'd like to curate a slightly different mix of products," says Pearson. "We've got a strong focus on clothes make in the US, and handful of European designers mixed in. It's mostly items you can't get anywhere else."
 
Today Clothing opened about a month ago in the former location of the Gallery Project. While it was the white-walled, hardwood-floored space that attracted Pearson and Harden to the location, the burgeoning retail community on Fourth Ave. turned out to be the perfect location for the store. 
 
"Literati is a great addition to the block," Pearson says. I think there's a lot more foot traffic on Fourth than people give it credit for. Sava's new restaurant around the corner is going to be great, hopefully, the development across the street is coming. Within a year or two these intersections of Fourth will look pretty great."
 
Pearson and Harden have been hard at work on the space since taking over the space in May. Though they opened quietly with no advertising, or even a sign, Pearson says word about Today Clothing has gotten out through social media, and they've been happy with business thus far. 
 
Today Clothing carries men's apparel including young professional and casual attire. The store also offers bags, accessories and shoes. Their online store is in the works, and Pearson expect it to be up and running in the new few weeks. 
 

Source: Kevin Pearson, Today Clothing
Writer: Natalie Burg

V2V opens Arbor Hills Crossing location with new look, brands, 10 new jobs

If you think you know everything longtime Ann Arbor retailer V2V has to offer, then you haven't been to the store's newest location in Arbor Hills Crossing. The 3,200 square foot store not only has a more modern design than its Kerrytown predecessor, it also carries a new array of products. 
 
"I think Tes [Haas, V2V owner] was looking for a different feel," says Mia Bell, store manager of the new V2V location. "She also wanted to carry things that are different from Kerrytown. We have some of the same brands but more products, as well as different brands like Fossil and Vince Camuto." 
 
Entirely new types of products can be found as well, including lingerie, more body products and home goods. The new V2V opened about two weeks ago in the new Washtenaw Ave. shopping center. A few finishing touches are still in the works, such as a forthcoming chandelier for the center of the store, and the shop's official grand opening will take place Oct. 5. 
 
"Coming here was a kind of a no-brainer," says Bell. "Washtenaw Ave. is busy, people have a place to park, and we're next to some national brands we can compete with."
 
V2V Arbor Hills Crossing currently employs a staff of 10 workers, and some hiring is still underway. According to Bell, the ultimate goal of the new V2V location is simple: to become every woman's favorite place to shop. 


Source: Mia Bell, V2V Arbor Hills Crossing
Writer: Natalie Burg

Online Tech doubles footprint in expanded, 10,000 sq ft Ann Arbor office

Ann Arbor data center operator Online Tech has been in a growth pattern for some time. Finally, the firm has grown right out of its own office space. Fortunately, Online Tech's Burlington Office Center home on Eisenhower Parkway offered them the opportunity to stay in one place doubling their footprint to 10,000 square feet. 
 
"We were hiring so quickly that we needed more space to keep our team together, and keep that creativity and collaboration going," says April Sage, marketing director for Online Tech. "We really wanted it to be as least disruptive as possible, so when the opportunity came about to add space here, we took it." 
 
Work to renovate the neighboring space in their third floor suite began about six months ago. Knocking out walls has allowed Online Tech to create collaborative spaces for teams, some of which were previously separated into offsite data centers. 
 
The firm eventually plans to take of the entire 13,000 square foot floor, and it's looking like they're going to need it. After hiring 9 staffers earlier this year, Online Tech intends to hire another ten staff members in the third quarter. 
 
"We have about a dozen empty desks yet, so we do have some room," Sage says. "But I don't see any signs of it stopping."
 
Online Tech's growth comes along with the company's plans to expand beyond Michigan's borders and into the Midwest. News of expansions to their data center footprint is expected in the near future. 
 
Source: April Sage, Online Tech
Writer: Natalie Burg

aUM Yoga brings a quirky twist on yoga to N. University

Jessie Lipkowitz gave her new yoga studio a name that is a play on words, and play is exactly what she hopes her students do when they come to class. Rather than the typical, straightforward yoga offerings, aUM Yoga hosts classes with such name as " All Yin, No Yang: Yin Yoga," " Damn! This is Sexy and Slow!: Slow Flow" and " F*** This is Hard: Hot Power Vinyasa."
 
"My vision is to have a fun place where yoga isn't taken as seriously and is fun for beginners," says Lipkowitz. 
 
The 2011 University of Michigan graduate calls her unique approach to yoga a collaborative concept. She hopes to pair classes with monthly books discussions and juice cleanses and to invite businesses to partner with the studio to bring yoga options to their employees. 
 
"I give all my instructors full license to use their creativity," she says.
 
aUM Yoga opened last week on N. University in a 900-square-foot studio below Silvio's Organic Pizza. Lipkowitz says the near-campus location appealed to her, as she hopes to attract students interested in a playful, youthful approach to yoga. The new studio employs 12 instructors. 
 

Source: Jessie Lipkowitz, aUM Yoga
Writer: Natalie Burg

Michigan's largest auto accident law firm opens Ann Arbor office

With 18 lawyers and frequent cases in Washtenaw, Jackson and Lenawee Counties, Michigan Auto Law, the state's largest law firm specializing in auto accidents, is no stranger to Ann Arbor. After the firm subleased a small space from a recently dissolved business, however, owner Steve Gursten decided it was time to make their local presence more permanent.
 
"With the way we've been growing," says Gursten, "We said, let's take a ten-year lease, let's grow and see where it takes us. We're really excited to be in Ann Arbor."
 
A University of Michigan graduate, Gursten says he was delighted to bring his family's third-generation business to the area. The Farmington Hills-based law firm began specializing in auto accidents about 25 years ago.
 
The local Michigan Auto Law office is located in downtown Ann Arbor on Main St. above The Gown Shop. Gursten was attracted to the building for its beauty and accessibility, as well as its proximity to the courthouse. The office is currently staffed by two existing Michigan Auto Law attorneys.
 
"With the tremendous growth of cases we've had in Ann Arbor, I'd love to see it grow," Gursten says. "I'd like it to grow to a full support office with several lawyers."
 
Michigan Auto Law opened its new local office in early August. The firm also has locations in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Sterling Heights and Grand Rapids. 

Source: Steve Gursten, Michigan Auto Law
Writer: Natalie Burg

Familiar Mexican menu under a new name comes to W. Stadium

Local Mexican food aficionados will find something familiar when they open the menu at the new Don Juan Mexican Bar & Grill on Ann Arbor's W. Stadium Blvd. The recently opened restaurant serves many of the same dishes as owner Juan Hernandez's two area Los Amigos restaurants. 
 
That's good news, says manager Miguel Amaral, for fans of the restaurants who live across town. 
 
"People were really asking for this over here," says Amaral. "None of the businesses were on the west side. People were too far away."
 
With its brightly-colored walls and large, vibrant landscapes, Don Juan began answering that demand on Aug 26 when the new bar and restaurant opened. The restaurant, which seats 88 and offers take out, specializes in their parrillada entrée, a daily happy hour, and extended happy hour on weekdays. 
 
"Our happy hour is great, and I think we have very good food," says Amaral. "We try to have good service and have a homey, warm place. That way, people will want to come back."
 
Don Juan employs a staff of eight. 

Source: Miguel Amaral, Don Juan Mexican Bar & Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Westgate Seva to blend original aesthetic with a more urban feel

Though an Ann Arbor staple for four decades, Seva has been growing and changing for some time. The vegetarian restaurant has expanded within it's own space multiple times, and nearly two years ago opened a location in Detroit. The next phase of Seva's evolution will take the original restaurant to the Westgate Shopping Center.
 
"We evolved from about four booths in 1973, and then eventually took over the entire space," says Jeff Jackson, who owns the business with his wife, Maren Jackson. "We've putting these spaces together and trying to make it work. This is actually better use of space and we'll be able to make it the way we'd like it to be."
 
With 500 to 600 extra square feet, the new Seva will have larger kitchens, which will help with preparations for the Detroit location, and will help the restaurant branch out into catering. Jackson says the look and feel of the new Seva will be a blend of the stained glass-adorned original and the more urban feel of the Detroit restaurant. 
 
With renovations happening off-site from their current location, Jackson intends to keep the restaurant open for as long as possible until the Westgate Seva is ready to to.
 
"I bet we'll be closed at least a week," he says. "We hope to be open in the new spot by the beginning of December."
 
The new Seva will seat about 150 diners and will have a private dining room parties and gatherings. Jackson anticipates retaining his same staff in his new location. 


Source: Jeff Jackson, Seva
Writer: Natalie Burg

Park & Party tackling game day parking with new partnership

On the football field U-M and Notre Dame are rivals, but when it comes to the parking lot why not get along?

Ann Arbor-based Park n Party and Game Day Parking out of South Bend say it makes sense to play together in their business of taking the hassle out of game day parking and tailgating.

Park n Party has created a reservation system for parking spots, tailgate spaces and other amenities in cooperation with parking lot owners, and Game Day Parking has built an app to identity parking lots and spaces at several universities, including U-M, MSU, Purdue and Wisconsin.

This season, Park n Party will offer its services to Notre Dame fans, and its the first stop in an expansion that Park n Party co-founder Jason Kapica says will reach Detroit, East Lansing, Columbus, Ohio, Madison, Wisconsin and other Big 10 campuses.

“Nobody has ever put together a service like Park n Party, and we’re confident the idea will catch on like wildfire among fans in town for Notre Dame football,” says Kapica. “We expect to be all over the country in the near future.”

John Ross, GameDay Parking's chief and a Notre Dame graduate, joined with Park n Party because of the demand for online parking and tailgating reservation system for Notre Dame home football games.

"Park n Party's system is perfect for the Notre Dame market. Fans will love how it helps to take the uncertainty out of game day parking, and parking lot owners will really appreciate how it makes their lives easier," Ross says in a release announcing the partnership. "In the end, it makes game day better for everyone."

Park n Party has also expanded into event planning and works with fans to plan parties and tailgates, hooking them up with event spaces, caterers and of course the parking spaces.

"We regularly receive calls from all over the country from U of M Alumni and Alumni of visiting teams. They want to hold a nice tailgate event. They need a venue, parking, and catering," says Park n Party co-founder Taylor Bond. "We're certainly helping the local economy by bringing together buyers and sellers. Those benefitting form our services include lot owners, venues, and caterers."


Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Taylor Bond and Jason Kapica, founders, Park n Party


AATA gets new name and new member as Ypsilanti joins regional transit agency

Regional transit got a boost last week as both the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti City Councils unanimously approved the City of Ypsilanti’s request to join AATA/TheRide, prompting the organization to formally rename itself the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority.
 
"The City of Ann Arbor and City of Ypsilanti are economically and culturally linked and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority serves as a better platform for improving transit in and between the county's two largest cities," says Ryan Buck, Director of the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study.
 
Since the April dissolution of the Washtenaw Ride, a failed attempt to establish a county-wide transit authority, AATA has focused on expanding service within the county’s "urban core" communities, including Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, and Pittsfield Township.
 
The addition better positions the agency to make improvements like increased frequency on more routes and expanded weekend and evening hours, according to Don Kline, Marketing Coordinator for TheRide.
 
"With a stronger and better connected Urban Core, Washtenaw County is on a path towards a brighter future which benefits everyone, not just riders," says Kline.  
 
Source: Don Kline, Ryan Buck
Writer: Nina Ignaczak 

Lunch Room opens with chic style, 20 new jobs in Kerrytown

Considering the amount of hands-on effort Phillis Engelbert and Joel Panozzo put into their creative vegan fare, it's probably no surprise to learn how involved the co-owners of The Lunch Room were in the build-out of their new Kerrytown location, which opened last week. 
 
Working with longtime customers and architects Lisa Sauvé and Adam Smith, Engelbert and Panozzo spent months working to bring the chic, modern aesthetic to their 1,128 square foot space. 
 
"We were active in the construction process," says Panozzo, "but we were are really happy for the construct part to be over, and to be opening and making food."
 
If their first-week crowds were any indication, so were The Lunch Room customers. With busy lunch and dinner crowds, Engelbert and Panozzo grew their new staff from 15 to 20 in the first week, after realizing that their commitment to from-scratch cooking required constant dishwashing. 
 
"The huge thing about our business is not necessarily that it's that vegan," says Panozzo. "We're just making really good food, made in-house with real ingredients, and its conveniently vegan."
 
Among those handmade dishes are favorites from The Lunch Room's original food truck format, as well as a host of new entrees, such as a Southwestern Salad, Mac & Cheese and tempeh reuben, among others. Now open for dinner, Panozzo says The Lunch Room will soon themed nights featuring foods inspired by New Orleans, the Upper Peninsula and paella. 
 
The Lunch Room seats 35 inside and 20 diners outside in a hybrid counter- and table-service style. The restaurant also sells and serves fresh baked goods, such as donuts and muffins. 

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

Above Ground Salon to bring all-natural haircare to new Liberty St. space

After operating on the second floor of a State St. building for 11 years, Above Ground Hair Studio will soon be operating closer to the ground, as well as at the eye level of passersby on Liberty St.
 
"We just wanted to go downstairs and be more in the spotlight and show Ann Arbor what we do with natural methods," says Above Ground Hair Studio owner Cookie Gomez.
 
Gomez's unique approach to hair care focuses on all-natural products, styling techniques and cuts that work with each client's natural hair style. She even specializes in a cutting technique that she says helps stylists maintain a healthier body positioning and cutting motions. Gomez also teaches this technique to other stylists. 
 
"We started all natural from the get-go, doing all kinds of things with ethnic hair and branching out from there," says Gomez. "Girls are now seeing that going natural is best."
 
While her salon floor will be about the same size in her new location, the addition of a basement will give Above Ground more room to focus on hair. The six-stylist salon will soon grow to a nine-person team. 
 
Now working to renovate the space, Gomez hopes to move into her Liberty St. location this fall. Her goals with the more visible storefront is to bring the salon's unique approach to hair care to more people in Ann Arbor. 

Source: Cookie Gomez, Above Ground Hair Studio
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ann Arbor Bike Share program to bring 125 bikes downtown in April 2014

Want a bike? Take a bike. For members of the forthcoming Ann Arbor Bike Share program, it'll be that easy beginning in April of next year. At 14 stations throughout downtown, bike share members will be able pick up one of 125 bikes and use it to run errands, get to appointments or just take a quick ride. 
 
Though the date of the bike share program's launch was announced last week after the Ann Arbor City Council approved a $150,000 local match of a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant, its development has been underway by the Clean Energy Coalition and partners Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, University of Michigan and the City of Ann Arbor for some time.
 
"It was a number of years ago when several stakeholders were sitting around a room and talking about how this would be a great asset for the community," says Clean Energy Coalition's Heather Seyfarth, program supervisor. "We knew it could be a really great program, so we wanted to carefully plan it in such a way that benefits all those involved."
 
The bike share program will launch with $750,000 in capital funding and $800,000 in operational funding for three years. Clean Energy Coalition, along with AATA, secured $600,000 in CMAQ capital funding, and the University of Michigan has pledge $200,000 per year for operating costs. 
 
"[The partnerships] strengthen the program," says Seyfarth. "We have this major entity with an influx of population that comes in every year, and it will certainly serve their community, but with the city involved, it will be able to serve the residents as well, and help with expanding the program in the future."
 
Memberships will be available at downtown kiosks and online with annual, seven-day or 24-hour options. Though specific prices have not been determined Seyfarth estimates an annual membership will be $55 to $65. 

Source: Heather Seyfarth, Clean Energy Coalition
Writer: Natalie Burg
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