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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Scott Hirth, M Den
Writer: Natalie Burg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Zaini Lateef, Peachy Fitness
Writer: Natalie Burg

Michigan wines, ciders and education to be served up at Vin Bar on Liberty

Michigan wine is booming business. As far as Traverse City tasting rooms and wineries go, however, it's also a seasonal one. That's why, about two years ago, Good Harbor Vineyards, Black Star Farms and L. Mawby started talking about partnering to open an off-site wine bar and tasting room in a city with year-round traffic. 

"Ann Arbor is definitely busy in the winter months, and the demographics in Ann Arbor are fantastic," says Taylor Simpson, sales, distribution and marketing manager for Good Harbor Vineyards. "And there just seems to be a lot of support for all things local in Ann Arbor."

Vin Bar, a wine bar, tasting room and wine retail store will open this summer in the former location of the Skin Bar on W. Liberty. In addition to wine, the bar will serve ciders, limited food items and cocktails featuring wine and cider. Wine tasting will be available during the day. A Michigan wines education will offered at all hours. 

"We're hoping to provide an educational experience about wine, but more specifically about Michigan wine, to show people what is going on in the industry," Simpson says. "We are three wineries that have a long history of making wine in Michigan, and we're hoping to bring a lot of that knowledge with us."

While no opening date has been set, the Vin Bar is slated to potentially open in July. The 1,100 square foot space is now under renovation, though because of the building's historic character, Simpson says that they don't have too much to do to create their unique space. She expects the bar will hire around five employees to staff the business.

Source: Taylor Simpson, Good Harbor Vinyard
Writer: Natalie Burg

Romania-inspired chimney cake restaurant opens this month at Briarwood

When Teo Marcinescul went to Romania last year, he tried something he'd never tasted before. It was a cylinder of sweet dough with a sugar glazed, dipped in toppings. And it was delicious. 

"I was like, 'Wow, these are amazing,'" says Marcinescul. "Why don't we have these in America?"

The pastry is called a Chimney Cake, and after Marcinescul and his two traveling partners did their research and developed a business plan, they became available in Taylor, and soon, they'll be making their debut at Briarwood Mall with the Chimney Cake Cafe

"So far, everybody likes it," Marcinescul says of their reception in Taylor. "We decided to open the second location, and hopefully we'll keep growing from there."

The chimney cakes are made from a sweet dough that is wrapped around a rod a baked with a coat of sugar. When the dough is baked, the sugar caramelizes, and customers can choose from a range of toppings, including walnuts, Nutella, Oreos, peanut butter and more. The Chimney Cake Cafe will also offer savory cakes stuffed with chicken shawarma, Philly cheesesteak and pepperoni, among other options. 

The Chimney Cake Cafe opened its first store in the Southland Mall in Taylor in February. The Briarwood location will be located near the Chipotle and Potato & Co. restaurant and will open within about two weeks. 

Eight employees are currently working at the Taylor location, and Marcinescul anticipates hiring at least as many for the Briarwood store. Marcinescul hopes to continue to add more stores to their business in the future.

Source: Teo Marcinescul, Chimney Cake Cafe
Writer: Natalie Burg

Mall boutique iT... to make the move to Main St.

Nicki Wilson's iT… boutique has been in a number of spaces in Briarwood Mall, but wherever she was located, she heard one thing from customers. 

"So much of the time people would come into our store and they'd say, 'You should be on Main Street. You're such a Main Street store,'" Wilson says. "We've been a store six and a half years and we've been looking for five." 

That search recently ended when Wilson signed a lease to set up shop in the 1,300 square foot former home of the Chocolate House on S. Main. 

"It was just it," Wilson says. "I feel like we got blessed with the right place at the right time. I'm just really excited to be downtown and to be part of the mix. I cannot wait to get open." 

Renovations are now underway in the downtown location, and iT… has closed its Briarwood store in preparation for the move. Wilson plans to feature a number of new artists, jewelry and pottery in the new location, and hope to open in the next several weeks. 

It… will be staffed by Wilson and her husband, and the pair plan to add a part-time staffer in the new location. 

Source: Nicki Wilson, iT...
Writer: Natalie Burg

Real Baked Goods to bring handmade treats to Packard St. neighborhood

Cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies are in store for the small storefront next to Arbor Vacuum on Packard St. Alan Caldwell's Real Baked Goods will be serving up sweet and savory delights beginning later this year. 

"I'm very excited about it. It's going to be baking from scratch," says Caldwell, who is returning to his first vocational love of food service after 20 years with Ford and opening a home health company. "I don't expect to see everyone everyday, but hopefully I'll have a lot of once or twice a week customers."

The 285 square foot space is small, but Caldwell says its just right for what he's planning to do. Over the next few months he'll be adding new counters, display cases, and kitchen equipment. He plans to have enough room for two tables and four chairs for customers, who will have chose between a variety of baked good from Caldwell's kitchen.

"I definitely want to have some savory things for lunch time," he says, "things like pepperoni rolls and spinach rolls. It's been really fun to test recipes. I've gotten some good feedback."

Caldwell plans to open Read Baked Goods in late August. Initially, he plans to operate the business himself, with some help from family members.

Source: Alan Caldwell, Real Baked Goods
Writer: Natalie Burg

Pangborn Design Collection to bring art and accessories to Main St.

Airport layovers are generally avoided at all costs, but during the decade Pangborn Design Collection spent as a retail tenant in McNamara Terminal, customers from all over the world chose layovers in Detroit Metro Airport over direct flights to shop Dominic Pangborn's inventory of unique art, accessories and jewelry. 

"We had unbelievable return customers," Pangborn says. "We had people say, 'I fly though Detroit purposely to shop at your business."

Those loyal customers will soon have a new destination to seek out when Pangborn Design Collection opens on Main Street this fall. The 2,000 square foot retail space will offer both Pangborn's own art, as well as a collection of unique items from other artists. 

"Ann Arbor has always been a fabulous market," says Pangborn. "So many of our customer were flying out from Ann Arbor, so it was just a perfect fit. We always said if we can get into the right location in Ann Arbor, we've got to do it."

Pangborn has worked as an artist in Detroit since 1979, and his paintings are now sold all over the world. A regular public speaker himself, he plans to bring speakers, artists and educational opportunities to his shop for monthly events. 

Pangborn Design Collection will begin their Main Street lease in Sept., and Pangborn hopes to open quickly after a brief renovation period. He intends to employ between five and 10 staff members. 

Source: Dominic Pangborn, Pangborn Design Collection
Writer: Natalie Burg

Southern California-style Mexican food comes to Ann Arbor

There may be a few places to get burritos around Ann Arbor, but a whole different kind of Mexican food is coming to town as early as next week with Get Some Burritos

"The owners and investors are from Southern California, and it has a unique kind of Mexican food. They call it SoCal Mexican," says Get Some Burritos General Manager Devon Bivens. "There was some interest in the Midwest to bring SoCal Mexican here."

The first Get Some Burritos opened in Madison, Wisconsin, and Ann Arbor will be the second location. Bevins describes SoCal Mexican as including different spices than the TexMex food many Midwesterners are used to, and including steak instead of ground beef. 

"I think it's going to bring something a little bit different to Ann Arbor," Bevins says. "There are different kinds of Mexican around, but this is a different flavor profile."

The 1,200 square foot restaurant on Packard will seat about 24 people and employ a staff of about 12. Bevins hopes the near-campus area will attracts students on the go to and from classes. After about six months of renovations, Get Some Burritos is hoping to open by May 15. 

Source: Devon Bivens, Get Some Burritos
Writer: Natalie Burg

ReImagine Washtenaw moves toward "complete streets" with new study

ReImagine Washtenaw recently released its Corridor Improvement Study, which takes a comprehensive look the five miles of Washtenaw Ave. connecting the Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Pittsfield and Ypsilanti Twps. Funded by the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the research seeks to move the corridor closer to a “Complete Street” model, including bike lanes, a sidewalk network and boulevards.

“For the first time, all four local units of government have a jointly-developed, comprehensive plan for making Washtenaw Avenue a more ‘complete street,’" says Nathan Voght, Washtenaw County's ReImagine Washtenaw project manager. "ReImagine Washtenaw now has a detailed blue-print for how to transform the roadway, over time, into a street that is safer for pedestrians and bikers, and still handles vehicular travel efficiently.”
The Corridor Improvement Study revealed that the current rate of increase in traffic will soon cause intersections to fail, which Voght says will further frustrate drivers and hurt the economic viability of the commercial district. 

"The change we need to make has never been more urgent," says Voght, "and the ReImagine Washtenaw stakeholders will be continue to push ahead with necessary changes that will provide viable alternative forms of transportation, and the land use forms that will support them.”
Next up for the ReImagine Washtenaw project is to seek out funding to implement aspects of the Corridor Improvement Study that are currently achievable, as well as taking the necessary planning steps to facilitate and set the stage for those that could come to fruition in the future. 
Voght adds that none of the recommendations in the study are intended to impede or reduce vehicular capacity, requiring people to walk, bike and bus along the corridor. Instead, the increase in options will allow some people to take alternate modes of transport, putting the corridor in a better position for change. 

Source: Nathan Voght, Washtenaw County
Writer: Natalie Burg

Argus Farm Stop aims to help growers and locavores with year-round market

Ann Arbor is an undeniably great place for local produce — for part of the year. The demand for local foods, however, doesn't go away in the winter, and thanks to the rise of local hoop houses, it doesn't have to. Kathy Sample, her husband Bill Brinkerhoff and their business partner Scott Fleck are aiming to help local growers extend their growing season with Argus Farm Stop, an indoor farmers market coming to W. Liberty this year. 

"The Farmers Market is fantastic, but there is a waiting list to get in," says Sample. "And what happens when it rains and no customer show up? We thought, there's a mismatch here." 

After encountering an indoor farmers market in Ohio, Sample and Brinkerhoff met with the owners, as well as local growers and the Ann Arbor Farmers Market to see what could be done to expand the availability of local food here. When they found no one else was on the job, they put themselves on it. 

Argus Farm Stop will be located in a 1,300 square foot former gas station on W. Liberty that is now under construction. Sample hopes to open in August with new bathrooms, an espresso bar and a wide array of produce, meats and other local foods. 

"Michigan is the second most diverse state in terms of agricultural products," Sample says. "Somehow things have changed over the years. We want to build that back up."

Argus Farm Stop is operating as a  Low-Proit Limited Liability Company, an option which will help the company maintain funding as they pursue their social goals of extending the growing season and giving new opportunities to local growers. Sample also plans to include education opportunities for kids and families in their business model. A staff of approximately six employees will operate Argus Farm Stop, along with the business partners. 

Source: Kathy Sample, Argus Farm Stop
Writer: Natalie Burg

Marriott's Residence Inn to add 110 hotel rooms to downtown

The much anticipated hotel coming to the corner of Ashely and Huron in downtown Ann Arbor now has a name. Developer First Martin announced last week that Residence Inn by Marriott will be the brand of hotel to occupy the planned six-story building. An extended stay model, the Resident Inn will offer studio, one- and two-bedroom suites.

"There are different types of segments in the hotel industry, so we looked at the performance of each segment we were attracted to the extended stay market," says Mike Martin, vice president of First Martin Corporation. "Of that market we thought that the Residence Inn was far and away the leader." 

The 110-room hotel is expected to open in late summer or early fall of 2015. Those rooms will significantly grow the 274 hospitality rooms that are currently available downtown. While the extended stay option is especially convenient for business travelers, Martin says visitors of all kinds will be attracted to the Residence Inn.

"There is a lot of flexibility in that type of room," he says. "You have people who are staying for just one night, but would like a little bigger room who will also enjoy it. The rooms have a desk and a couch, so they speak to wide range of travelers." 

In addition to the hotel, the proposed First Martin development will include nearly 6,000 square feet of first floor restaurant or retail space.

Source: Mike Martin, First Martin Corporation
Writer: Natalie Burg

Salads Up to bring healthy food in a hurry to Liberty

Robert Mayer may be about to embark on his first restaurant venture, but the University of Michigan graduate has plenty of experience as an Ann Arbor diner on the go. After exploring franchising options to address the lack of both quick and healthy food options downtown with his business partner, the two decided to develop their own concept. The result will be Salads Up on E. Liberty. 

"This is not a traditional self-serve ‘salad bar,'" says Mayer. "It is a fast casual concept in which the customer chooses from our many ingredient options and our awesome homemade dressings. The offerings will include what most people associate with salads but will also have some creative twists."

In addition to salads and salad-like options, Salads Up will also offer wraps, soups and frozen yogurt. Mayer is currently working with his chef to develop a unique menu that emphasizes quality as well as local ingredients. 

The 1,200 square foot space will be entirely renovated to accommodate the new restaurant, including new plumbing, electrical, venting systems and interior cosmetic work.

"The building itself is not currently equipped to be a restaurant and will require some significant work," Mayer says. "We simply could not pass up on the location."

Renovation are slated to begin this week, and Mayer plans to open Salads Up by the end of the summer, and will hire about 11 employees. He hopes their success in Ann Arbor will lead to more Salads Up locations in other cities. 

Source: Robert Mayer, Salads Up
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ypsilanti women's retailer to open second location in Ann Arbor

Nickels Arcade is about to get Mix-ed up — in a good way. Ypsilanti's popular women's clothing and accessories shop is opening a second location in the former home of Beagle Brain. 

"It was sort of a no brainer," says Leslie Leland, who owns Mix with business partner Bonnie Penet. "We discovered the space at Nickels Arcade was open and we just loved the ambiance of that location, and it's historic nature. We thought t would be an absolutely fabulous fit for our clothes."

Renovations to the 850 square foot shop are now underway. Most of the work is focused on creating Mix's unique lighting. The Ann Arbor location will be a third of the size of the original Mix, which opened about four and half years ago. The two stories will carry similar "mixes" of new and second-hand clothing and accessories, with enough variety to make visits to both stores worthwhile. 

"The similarity will be in the clothing that we carry, which is really artistically chic," Leland says. "We're in New York [at a trade show] right now and we've added some incredibly exciting clothing to our line." 

The new Mix store is slated to open in June. The store currently employs a staff of five part-time workers. Penet and Leland plan to staff the shop themselves in the beginning and add staff as needed. 

Source: Bonnie Penet and Leslie Leland, Mix
Writer: Natalie Burg

Final Round Training Center to bring mixed martial arts & fitness classes to A2

Mixed martial arts is a fast growing sport in the U.S., and beginning next month, some of the top names in the industry will be bringing their skills to Ann Arbor with the new Final Round Training Center. Four-time world champion Muay Thai fighter Matee Jedeepitak will be among five noteworthy coaches who will offer training in Muay Thai, 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, Pilates, cardio kickboxing and CrossFit. 

"I knew Matee and knew that he had a long-time dream of having a gym in the U.S., and I had a dream of not having to drive an hour and a half for lessons with him, " says Final Round owner Chris DeRose. "We wanted something that was in Ann Arbor, and we got amazingly lucky in the people who we're drawing to the space as trainers." 

Final Round Training Center will begin classes on May 5 in a 4,200 square foot facility on Plaza Dr. in Ann Arbor. In addition to formal mixed martial arts training, DeRose says martial arts-style fitness classes will be available to anyone interested in getting into shape. 

"It's MMA fitness and training without someone punching you in the face," says DeRose. "We'll have a cardio kickboxing class and combat conditioning class that you sign up for as a package."

Final Round will also host seminars with nationally recognized names from the martial arts industry. DeRose plans to reach out to area schools and other community organizations to get involved with youth fitness programs, and will host community benefits, including a cancer awareness event in October. 
Source: Chris DeRose, Final Round Training Center
Writer: Natalie Burg

Red Beauty Bar to deliver mobile makeup artists to clients

As someone who doesn't have the skills of a makeup artist herself, Christina Carter decided she was the perfect person to open a mobile beauty concierge service. After all, she would also be the service's ideal customer. 

"I'm a person that doesn't wear makeup on a regular basis, but I like having it done for a special occasion," says the University of Michigan graduate. "I noticed that when I went to a larger city, there were places to just get your makeup done. I thought, why isn't there a service like that in Ann Arbor?" 

What Carter lacks in cosmetic skills, she makes up for in entrepreneurial know-how. Her Red Beauty Bar business is set to launch in June with three makeup artists who will travel to customers' doors to get their faces in shape for any occasion, from a wedding to a night out with friends. 

"Convenience is key these days," Carter says. "People will go to the website, pick their time slot and their artist of choice to come out to their location." 

Red Beauty Bar will focus on making a basic makeup application affordable as well as convenient. Unlike other companies in the business, the service won't require or pressure customers into purchasing any cosmetics. 

It's also important, Carter says, to remind her customers that women shouldn't feel pressured to wear makeup in order to feel beautiful. The mobile cosmetics concierge is intended simply to be a fun way for customers to access makeup for occasions.

Carter hopes to eventually grow her team of makeup artists, expand into other cities, and create a brick and mortar location in the future. Prior to the launch of the website, Red Beauty Bar can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Source: Christina Carter, Red Beauty Bar 
Writer: Natalie Burg
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