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Ginger Deli plans fresh take on Vietnamese food

Anyone used to eating Vietnamese food in a hole-in-the-wall type environment will soon get to experience the cuisine in a whole new light. The Ginger Deli plans to open on E. Liberty in the first or second week of January with a focus on chic design and fresh ingredients that aims to change perceptions and delight Ann Arbor eaters. 
"The Ginger Deli is an idea I have wanted to do for maybe five years," says owner Te Phan, who also owns Ann Arbor's Chair Cover Express. "The food will be more toward Vietnamese cooking because Vietnamese food is influenced by the French. If you're going to be influenced by any kind of food, French is a good place to start."
Fresh herbs will be a primary feature of the Ginger Deli cuisine, including basil, mint, cilantro and bean sprouts, which Phan says not only adds great flavor to the food, but balances out the dishes with health benefits. 
Phan's career began in industrial design, creating concept cars for Ford. He's now applying his design principles to make attractive, functional street food in downtown Ann Arbor. His designs will allow passersby to enjoy some hot soup on the go in convenient, disposable packaging.
"I want to put the value and money first in food and second into the packaging, where it will be marketing vehicle for the food," says Phan. "Instead of putting a lot of money in creating a environments an ambiance and tables, I want to be able to keep the price affordable for students and young professionals."
The approximately 200-foot Ginger Deli storefront will be take-out only, but will provide heated outdoor counter space under a canopy for diners on the go. Phan hopes to build on the concept of new neighbor Le Dog to create a hub for street food on Liberty. 
Ginger Deli will actually be a two-part operation, with about two kitchen staffers managing a kitchen two blocks away and two employees serving customers from the storefront. Phan hopes to see the concept grow into multiple locations in Ann Arbor, and plans to keep the community he loves involved and benefitting from his business as it grows. 

Sourc: Te Phan, Ginger Deli
Writer: Natalie Burg

Juicy Kitchen plans to expand catering part of growing biz

There is not much Juicy Kitchen Cafe doesn't do in the food business these days.

"We still do catering," says Susan Todoroff, owner of Juicy Kitchen Cafe. "We still do home-prepared meals except we don’t deliver them anymore. Our customers come and pick them up."

From Juicy Kitchen Cafe's new retail location on 1506 N. Maple Road that it has spent 2013 establishing. The Ann Arbor-based company went from no one knowing there any businesses in the forlorn strip mall to a vibrant business with a core group of regulars that eat there multiple times week.

"(Opening the cafe) was really more of a lifestyle choice than a business decision for me," Todoroff says. "I want to wait on the people I am cooking for."

That has allowed Juicy Kitchen Cafe to grow to a core team of four full-timers and a few part-time employees. The retail operation now makes up about two thirds of the company's revenue. Prepared meals make up another 20-some percent with catering taking up the rest.

"I want to grow the catering side of the business," Todoroff says.

Source: Susan Todoroff, owner of Juicy Kitchen
Writer: Jon Zemke

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GFS Marketplace celebrates opening of second area location

Ann Arbor's west side has become a destination for food shopping, and now GFS Marketplace is offering the community another option. The Gordon Food Service retailer opened earlier this month in a renovated retail space near the corner of Liberty and Stadium Blvd.
"We were just looking for a location that would make us convenient to additional customers and that happened to be a property that became available," says GFS Marketplace spokesperson Mark Dempsey. "It was an existing building that we could convert to our needs."
The 1,400 square foot building underwent a number of renovations, including opening the ceiling to expose wood dome trusses, facade improvements, new HVAC and lighting as well as a new receiving dock. 
Though GFS Marketplace sells restaurant quality foodservice products, Dempsey says the retailer is open to the general public without a membership. 
"Customers are enjoying the grand opening festivities," he says. "We've had some terrific events in the store since it’s opened. We’re having a lot of fun in Ann Arbor."
The Ann Arbor location is the second area GFS Marketplace store, joining a Carpenter Rd. outlet in Ypsilanti. About 35 employees work at the new store. 

Source: Mark Dempsey, GFS Marketplace
Writer: Natalie Burg

Local developer plans near-downtown condo project with Liberty Landings

With so much momentum in downtown Ann Arbor toward increasing walkability, biking and public transit, a car wash seated on a valuable, near-downtown property makes a decreasing amount of sense. Local developer Alex de Parry has proposed an idea to replace the Liberty Car Wash that he says makes much better use of the land. 
"The site was a bit underutilized," says de Parry of Ann Arbor Builders. "It looked like a good site for a condominium.
De Parry's proposal is to build a eight-condominium housing development on the Liberty St. property. Though the project is still in its earliest stages, he hopes to get started on by spring of 2014. 
Thus far, de Parry has been holding neighborhood meetings to gather feedback from citizens about the project. The reception his project has received, he says, has been positive – not only from the neighbors, but also from prospective residents. 
"There is definitely interest," de Parry says. "Everybody wants to live downtown."
Though everybody may want to live near downtown Ann Arbor, de Parry says his semi-customizable, market rate condos will attract permanent residents, as opposed to students. The three-story building will include three two-bedroom units on the first and second floors ranging between 1,100 and 1,300 square feet each. The top floor will include two larger units at 2,100 square feet each.

Source: Alex de Parry, Ann Arbor Builders
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ophir Crafts brings the art of crafting to Westgate with kits and classes

Hosting international students and residents is often a learning experience, but something a Korean undergraduate student mentioned to Kate Ernsting was particularly enlightening. With all the time students spend in front of screens, they were getting together to do crafts on evenings and weeks. It was something they had experienced with their own daughter. Light bulb moment! Ernsting and her husband Gary saw a business opportunity they'd never considered before: crafting. 
Ophir Crafts opened in Westgate Shopping Center in early Sept., offering fair trade crafts for sale, but focusing primarily on inspiring and teaching others to craft. 
"We want to have people interact with culture and with other people through their craft creations," Ernsting says. "We sell products that are gifts, but we also sponsor local artists to come in and do trunk shows."
Ophir Crafts also sells crafting kits and offers classes on everything from knitting to greeting cards to candy making. The 1,350 square foot store is located between Nicola's Books and the Ann Arbor District Library in Westgate. 
The family business employs Ernsting and her husband, as well as their daughter and three other part-time workers. Ernsting plans to expand Ophir Crafts' offerings to include more crafting demonstrations in the future. 

Source: Kate Ernsting, Ophir Crafts
Writer: Natalie Burg

Pie it Forward sets down local roots in Dexter

Last year, Sarah Fertig and Chris Kovac started giving away pies. The just wanted be kind and inspire others to think about kindness. They kept giving away pies in Liberty Plaza, and 18 weeks later, they knew they were on to something, even if it wasn't clear what that something was yet. 
"I realized this wasn't going to be a little side project," says Fertig. "I had accidently stumbled across something really great. I just didn't know if I was going to be a travelling pie evangelist, or would be in one location." 
So they took their show on the road. After giving away 251 free pies from San Francisco to Washington D.C., Pie it Forward has returned to Ann Arbor, set down roots in Dexter, and is preparing to get official as a non-profit.  
Pie it Forward makes pies and trades them for any amount between 10 cents and 10 dollars. In addition to apple pies, shepherd's pies have been added to the menu, and pasties may soon join the mix. The newly incorporated non-profit's mission isn't to feed the hungry or raise money, but simply to demonstrate kindness, and that no one does anything without a community. 
"I may have made a pie, but I didn't plant the wheat field. I didn't plant the orchard," says Fertig. "The hope is when people hear about our mission, they think about what they can do. What can I do to improve my own neighborhood? What skills do I have to offer?"
After traveling all over the nation with their concept Fertig and Kovac have decided to keep the Ann Arbor area as the home of Pie it Forward. They are currently seeking out commercial kitchen space and can now accept tax-exempt donations. Fertig says she hopes to grow the organization into a fleet of food trucks to expand Pie it Forward to Flint and Detroit, as well as have a disaster relief truck that can go anywhere in the nation with pies when a tragedy occurs. 

Source: Sarah Fertig, Pie it Forward
Writer: Natalie Burg

A new sense of style and community come to N. Main with Legion

A new retailer coming to N. Main is about more than clothes. According to owner Michael Kao, Legion will be many things – a place for art, collaboration, culture and fashion, and above all, a destination. 
"The store we're opening up is geared toward a whole lifestyle," Kao says. "So there are people who seek out stores like this."
Renovations are now underway in the 1,500 square food N. Main storefront that Kao hopes to open as Legion in mid-November. The store will carry Kao's own fashion brand, Chief, as well as number of apparel brands he calls "American heritage brands," including Pendleton and Red Wings Shoes.
"We're kind of focusing on brand and quality," says Kao. "We hope to educate the people around here about the difference between clothing and fashion. Fashion is you expressing yourself as a person." 
In addition to elevating the level of fashion in downtown Ann Arbor, Kao plans to carry local art and photography. He hopes the store will store will become the first of many new fashion retailers in the neighborhood, believing the city is ripe to be come a hub for collaborative fashion businesses. 
Kao owns Legion along with two silent partners. He plans to open the store with one additional employee and an intern who will work into full employment. 

Source: Michael Kao, Legion
Writer: Natalie Burg

Orange Leaf aims for February opening with frozen treats, community values

A new kind of frozen yogurt experience is "coming spoon" to Plymouth Rd. in Ann Arbor. The growing national franchise Orange Leaf combines healthy frozen treats with a commitment to the community, and by Feb. of next year, the Traver Village Shopping Center will be the next community to reap the delicious benefits.
"Orange Leaf likes to put their mission out there," says Jason Zalewski, who owns the forthcoming Ann Arbor location along with his partner, Scott McLean. "The want to promote community and families. We'll be heavily involved in the community." 
Zalewski and McLean opened a location in Macomb County in June, and are looking forward to growing the business in Michigan. About 300 Orange Leaf Yogurt Stores are now open in the US, and the Ann Arbor location is among 110 stores that will soon be added to the ranks. 
"We had a good summer in Macomb, and we're looking forward to moving to the Ann Arbor market," says Zalewski. "We'll be bringing a healthier option for frozen yogurt and custard than is currently available." 
Orange Leaf offers 18 different flavors of store-made frozen yogurt every day, including sugar free, peanut free and gluten free options, and more than 50 topping choices. Zalewski says the store will be active in the community, facilitating school fundraisers and donating to local charities. 
The 2,600 square foot location is now under renovation and is expect to open in Feb. 2014 with approximately 20 employees. 
Source: Jason Zalewski, Orange Leaf
Writer: Natalie Burg

At double the size and staff, Lily Grace blooms on Main St.

As Lily Grace Cosmetics approaches its second anniversary, the small business has twice as much to celebrate as it did a few months ago. In response to feedback from her customers, owner Cyndi Clark has doubled Lily Grace's footprint and added spa services to her cosmetics offerings.
"It was the clients," says Clark. "Our clients wanted something like this downtown. We have a lot of great hair stylists who do cuts and color, but no one just does a blow-dry. And some people just want to pop in and get their nails done."
Lily Grace formerly took up about 1,000 square feet on Main St. Now, the business has expanded to include the suite's downstairs space for a total of 2,100 square feet. The new space includes areas for massage, hair styling, facials, manicures and pedicures. But these are your ordinary spa services. Clark travelled the world and connected with spa treatment innovators to bring the best of the best to Lily Grace. 
"I just wanted it to be special. We're in Ann Arbor for goodness sake," says Clark. "We all travel all over the world, so I wanted to get the best in my profession. It's important that I bring something new to Ann Arbor. That's what my clients want." 
The expanded Lily Grace quietly opened for business last week. The staff has grown along with the physical upgrades. Clark has already added four new staff employees to her original five-person staff, and expects to add an additional four spa employees soon. 
Clark's eyes continue to be on growth as Lily Grace enters its third year. Her connections in the health and beauty industry have helped her bring a number of exclusive brand names to the Ann Arbor market, and she intends to expand upon those exclusive offerings by Jan. of 2014. 

Source: Cyndi Clark, Lily Grace Cosmetics
Writer: Natalie Burg

Grand Rapids' Vertical Media Solution expands into A2 with satellite office

Few things can be more stressful than hunting for a new job. Between the résumé writing and the interview preparation, there are a number of questions job seekers may feel only a clairvoyant could answer. Namely: what does this company want to see from me?
Vertical Media Solutions is a small, Grand Rapids based résumé, cv and cover letter preparation company that may not have a crystal ball, but with years in the employment recruitment world, they know better than most what employers are looking for. Now, their services have expanded into Ann Arbor with the opening of a new satellite office on S. State St. 
"We're in the recruitment market every day. We're not using things that were taught in college or are simple, cookie cutter ideas, but we're adapting to a changing job market," says Joel Marotti, Vertical Media Solutions. "It's not the most qualified candidate who gets the job, it's the most prepared."
Vertical Media Solutions has been helping clients in the Ann Arbor area for some time via phone and online, but growth in the economy has led to growth in the need for their services in the city more frequently. The recently opened satellite office is currently appointment-only, and Vertical Media Solutions staff will frequent the space. 
Source: Joel Marotti, Vertical Media Solutions
Writer: Natalie Burg

Samsara Wellness Center to celebrate grand opening in new Ann Arbor studio

After a brief stint as Peaceful Garden Wellness Center, a group of wellness practitioners has grown, moved to a larger space and unveiled their new business under a name meaning "rebirth." Samsara Wellness Center is celebrating their grand opening on Sunday in their new Pauline St. studio. 
"It's only about three months since we've been Samsara," says Kelli Sinta, a massage therapist with Samsara. " We've been learning how to work together and have been troubleshooting everyday."
The collective of massage therapists, yoga instructors and estheticians began in a smaller office in the same building earlier in 2013. As the group grew to their current size of seven practitioners, they decided to expand into a 1,700 space, to include additional treatment rooms, a yoga studio and childcare space for clients to leave their kids during their appointments. The new space opened on Aug. 1. 
"There are a lot of yoga studios around, we've been trying to do some yoga that isn't done in the Ann Arbor area," says Sinta. "We're thinking of offering classes for people with multiple sclerosis, and prenatal and baby yoga. We want to set ourselves apart from the competitive, student serving yoga studios." 
The grand opening on Sunday will feature practitioner demonstration, live music by Willo Collective and refreshments. 

Source: Kelli Sinta, Samsara Wellness Center
Writer: Natalie Burg

Merit brings fashion with a higher purpose to S. University

There's no shame in looking good. Since former University of Michigan basketball player David Merritt launched his Merit clothing line, that sentiment has never been truer. After all, the stylish clothes and accessories he sells help high school students stay in school and reach for their collegiate dreams. Now, the caused-based retailer is brining its goods and goodness to a physical location on S. University. 
"I've been so blessed," says Merritt. "Now, it's important to me to create positive ways for young people to promote themselves. Knowing how many kids aren't given the same opportunities, we're trying to expose these kids to the resources that are out there."
Merit opened on Oct. 10 and Merritt and his partner Kuhu Saha are looking forward to a grand opening Nov. 13. The 400 square foot storefront underwent four to five weeks of renovations, including considerable work on the walls and flooring. Now, Merit is looking as good as the clothes and accessories they sell. Merritt hopes the clothes will be a good fit for the university market, as well as their personable service. 
"With our cause, and who we are as people, our goal is to be a personal brand," Merritt says. "We want to be able to get out in front of people. We think the campus community is going to be able to help us build a strong presence." 
A percentage of everything sold at Merit will fund scholarships for high school students who participate in Merritt's four mentorship and training program, FATE, at Detroit's Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.
Merit carries customized shirts, hats and accessories, and will soon being to introduce their cut-and-sew styles of their own design, such as pants, hoodies, shirts and more. The store currently employs a staff of two. Merritt plans to open a second location in Detroit in the next 16 to 18 months. 

Source: David Merritt, Merit
Writer: Natalie Burg

Eat the Hub to bring food truck installation to S. University

Alex Perlman isn't trying to create a new Mark's Carts on S. University. He is, however, using the same food cart courtyard concept to open minds and trigger ideas about how food carts can be apart of the campus-area business community in the future. With the six-month pop-up installation, Eat the Hub, Perlman will bring food cart quality food to the neighborhood all winter long. 
"The idea is if you don't create opportunities, there are none," says Perlman, who is part owner of both the Beet Box and Cheese Dream food carts. "Last winter I had the realization that as a food cart owner, our off season is when Ann Arbor's population is at its largest, and we weren’t taking advantage of it."
Perlman is already at work revitalizing the space, and hopes to have four to six food carts operating there by early Nov. The temporary food cart installation is part of a plant to repurpose and revitalize the lot at 1215 S. University that once housed Pinball Pete's. Unlike Mark's Carts, which encouraging summertime lingering and outdoor eating, Eat the Hub will offer to-go meals, as well as delivery with local partner Eat Blue. 
"Our plan is to have a temporary structure over the lot to keep the elements out," says Perlman, who notes that the area is heavily trafficked by pedestrians year-round, "and we're just providing to-go food at people's convenience."
Though Eat the Hub is only scheduled to run through April of 2014 the approximately 4,000 square foot lot, Perlman's goal is to create more opportunities for food carts offering freshly made foods in Ann Arbor year round. 

Source: Alex Perlman, Eat the Hub
Writer: Natalie Burg

Vie to join Arbor Hills Crossing with 3,000 sq ft studio, 20 new jobs

Heather Dupuis wasn't actively shopping for a second location for her Vie Fitness & Spa, but as the business mix at Arbor Hills Crossing developed, she saw a perfect opportunity to grow her bustling downtown business.
"Café Zola was kind of my trigger point," Dupuis says. "The same clients that go to Vie go to Café Zola, and the same clients also go to Lululemon. I thought this might be a good opportunity for us, and for our clients."
While some of her clients already come from the Washtenaw Ave. area, Dupuis also anticipates a new surge of members who may have been put off by dealing with downtown parking in the past. The new 3,000 square foot, second-floor studio will feature plenty of free parking, as well as a rear-entrance.
"The back entrance will be very private and discreet," says Dupuis. "It will be nice for people who don't want to look all sweaty coming in and out of the studio."
The original Vie location began as 3,000-square foot studio as well a decade ago. Since then, the location has doubled in size. Dupuis says expansion at her forthcoming Arbor Hills Crossing is also an option, though for now, the studio will offer fewer services than the original location, with a focus on Pilates and fitness classes.
Dupuis hopes to open the new Vie location by January of 2014. She anticipates the second location will employ a staff of 20. It will be located above the North Face and Anthropologie stores.

Source: Heather Dupuis, Vie Vitness & Spa
Writer: Natalie Burg

Historic Commission approves 3 story addition and renovation of Fourth Ave. building

The future is looking bright for a renovation project intended to light a fire under the development of S. Fourth Ave. in downtown Ann Arbor. The plan to transform the four-storefront building formerly known as Town Center Plaza into a five-and-half story residential and commercial property has gained approval from Ann Arbor's Historic District Commission. 
"I believe this project is going to ignite many other opportunities on the Fourth Ave. block," says developer Joe Barbat of Barbat Holdings. "A development of this magnitude will propel many others. However, most importantly, the idea of having residents live in the area offers many extraordinary opportunities." 
The redevelopment plan will add three-and-a-half stories, including 32 one- and two-bedrrom residential units to the building. Barbat calls the units "beautifully designed," and each will include a balcony. 
The building, now referred to as the Montgomery Building, has been known as the home of Bandito's and the now-closed Eastern Accents. Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase has already signed on to relocate in the building's basement. As for the remaining commercial spaces, Barbat says he's received interest in the spaces but has not signed any leases.
"We are hoping to attract casual food users or even a specialty market," he says. "The units are planned for a complete makeover." 
A timeline for the project is undetermined, though Barbat hopes to have the project completed by the end of 2014. 

Source: Joe Barbat, Barbat Holdings
Writer: Natalie Burg
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