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Holy expansion: Rochester-based Holy Cannoli's adds Berkley shop

The fifth-generation recipe for Holy Cannoli's cream-filled pastries has caught on so much that the downtown Rochester business has opened a second location in Berkley.

The new store is at 2752 Coolidge Highway. The first, which opened about a year ago, is at 415 South Main St. in Rochester. The business has been in the making since at least 2010, when owners Nicole Franey, her mother Cathy Schulte and grandmother Sharon Beheler decided to sell to friends, to their friends' friends, and at festivals and farmers markets, and then make the jump from family service to anonymous consumers.

Franey calls the expansion "an anniversary gift to ouselves."

Holy Cannoli's cannolis come filled with traditional creams and specialties such as key lime, pistachio, Michigan cherry, cookies and cream, and revolving choices. The creams are piped in after customers order.

Holy Cannoli's is also known for baked goods like its cassata cake.

Although it's moved into retail spaces, Holy Cannoli's hasn't abandoned farmer's markets. Every Saturday, Eastern Market shoppers will find Holy Cannoli's at Shed #5 in Eastern Market.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Nicole Franey, co-owner, Holy Cannoli's

Lake Trust Credit Union to build $30 million HQ in Brighton

A Lansing-based credit union is expanding into southeast Michigan, first building a $30-million headquarters near Brighton and later investing in Plymouth.

Lake Trust Credit Union will invest more than $40 million in extending its network in Michigan over the next five years, says Lori Anderson, spokesperson for the credit union.

The headquarters near Brighton is on 17 acres near US 23 and I-96 and will give employees a campus with a pond, walking trails, picnic areas and a 100,000 sq. ft. workspace that brings together employees from Lansing and Plymouth.

Lake Trust formed from a 2010 merger between NuUnion Credit Union and Detroit Edison Credit Union.

Construction on the new headquarters, which is expected to cost $30 million, is scheduled for completion by 2015. At least another $10 million will go into other improvements, such as those in Plymouth and Lansing.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Lori Anderson, spokesperson, Lake Trust Credit Union

Modern Natural Baby store grows up in downtown Ferndale

After spending its infancy as an online business, moving into toddlerhood as a brick and mortar store in Ferndale and then another store, Modern Natural Baby is moving again, this time to a larger space and with bigger plans.

Emily Murray, who started Modern Natural Baby with her husband, John Murray, in August 2009, says the move from Modern Natural Baby's store at 224 W. 9 Mile Road -- it once was on Woodward Avenue -- will let the new store at 200 W. 9 Mile offer more products and bigger ones such as strollers and car seats and high chairs. There wasn't enough room to display such items in the prior location.

At about double the size, the new Modern Natural Baby will not only sell more products but also seek out and sell those that keep with its organic, earth-friendly, socially-responsible business model.

"It'll be nice because we have a ton of gift registries, but before they had to register at other places for the strollers and car seats and larger items. Now they can register for everything here," Murray says.

The new 5,300 sq. ft. store is replacing Dollar Castle and will be the anchor of the 12,000-plus sq. ft. space that will soon be occupied by three tenants. The owner is renovating the building inside and out.

"The owner is putting a ton of money into it," Murray says. "Three businesses will be there instead of one. It's going to be one of the nicest buildings in Ferndale. This is really good for the city."

She expects to move into the new spot a few doors down from the current shop in August and be open later that month or in early September.

Though customers come from across metro Detroit and even from Canada, Murray attributes the success that started with an online business run from a home basement to a retail store to busting at the seams to Ferndale's way with attracting families and fostering progressive attitudes.

"Ferndale is definitely a place where there's a lot of nightlife…We've come from a time where families did kind of leave Ferndale…they're coming back…a lot of my customers are Ferndale customers. It's a great place for us because there are so many families, and it's a green area, it's such a hip area. It's perfect for our business."

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Emily Murray, co-owner, Modern Natural Baby

AutoBike moves into new production facilty in Troy

A start-up with the goal of producing an easy-riding bike with an automatic shifter that will appeal to recreational and casual bike riders has moved into a 7,000-square-foot warehouse and production facility in Troy as the company prepares to enter the mainstream marketplace.

There, AutoBike, which formed about two years ago, will build its bikes and in the process the work to carry out the motto to "Evolve the Bike." Shipping is expected to begin in late April to early May, says CEO and co-founder Sean Simpson.

The company will also work on designing and building a new commuter-style bike to complement its cruiser/comfort bikes, he says. Employees at AutoBike are re-applying their auto industry experience and engineering backgrounds to AutoBike.

Like all bikes, the AutoBike is pedal-powered but unlike others it shifts on its own so that the gear is always where it should be, whether going up a hill or riding fast. No clinking, clacking, missing gears or ignoring gears, something that makes bike riding less fun and more exhausting.

While automatic bikes have been tried before, Simpson and company have invented a promising continuous shifter, something they're refining. It's apparently catching on as sales are reaching the many states that AutoBike travels to for bike shows and special events.

AutoBike is getting a lot of press in the bike world. It was selected as one of the coolest products at the Seattle Bike Show and it took the $10,000 top prize at the University of Michigan Victors' Challenge -- a contest for the best entrepreneurial ideas -- just one of several pieces of funding it's received to get off the ground.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Sean Simpson, CEO, AutoBike

M-1 Studios adds production space in Ferndale

M-1 Studios has expanded into a studio in Ferndale as its business of video production, editing services and documentary filmmaking continues to grow.

The four-year-old company is hiring employees and adding space to keep up with the growth, says Mike Madigan, director of business operations.

The new space at 362 Hilton Road in Ferndale gives M-1 more studio and production room -- and business opportunities.
Commercials, including iMercials and social media video productions, are expected to be in high demand. In-studio and on-location interviews can be done here, with the use of green screen technology.

The editors, producers, screenwriters and video techs also work on animated productions, voiceovers and narrations, and filming training videos, documentaries. Other services, including DVD covers and labels and VHS to DVD transfers, are available as well.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Mike Madigan, operations manager, M-1 Studios

Belgian beer abbey & groovy '70s-themed bar coming to Royal Oak

The owners of Bastone Brewery and its offshoot restaurants and bars at the corner of Fifth and Main Streets in Royal Oak are changing up, opening a new restaurant, adding a patio and reworking the nightclub -- all part of focusing on their success with Euro-inspired eats and Belgian craft beer.

The first to change will be Cafe Habana, a 40-seat Cuban spot connected to Bastone. It will become Monk: A Belgian Beer Abbey. The club, Commune, downstairs will be reworked into Craft and focus on fresh-made, home-spun spirits.

Bastone, the mostly Belgian-flavored restaurant with favorites such as mussels and frites washed down with house-made Belgian suds, will grow in size, adding a space with high top tables and TVs. It will be more of a true bar space, with spots for a quick meal and a waiting area for tables. A lounge, extra tables and a private room will be added above the bar and an extra seating area will be added to the first floor. Outside on the sidewalk along Fifth Street, 36 seats will be added.

Vinotecca, the intimate wine bar also connected to Bastone, will remain the same.

"With a concept like ours where we have moveable parts, we can keep it fresh, change it up," says David Ritchie, operating partner. "People have asked if sales were good. They don't believe sales were good if we're closing Cafe Habana. For us, this suits us so we streamline and focus on our core business, the European aspect of what we do. And we have a beer guy right here who's won many awards."

The changes will happen in phases, but quickly, and lead to at least five new full-time jobs, Ritchie says. All parts of the latest iteration are expected to be complete by mid-May and open slowly and completely by June 1 so that kinks can be worked out, he says.

Café Habana has already closed and is under construction. As Monk, it will have about five more tables and open by about April 15, Ritchie says.

It'll be almost nine years to the day since Union Brewery LLC, which operates all the establishments, opened, he says.

Next will come Bastone, and the transition from Commune to Craft will start after that and be complete by the middle to the end of May. The club first opened nine years ago as Cinq. With nightclubs, it's probably wise to change it up at least every five years, he says.

"We want to move away from the mass market drinks and serve craft cocktails," Ritchie says. We'll use fresh ingredients, make our own infusions and syrups. It flows right into the craft beer."

Craft will have a retro look, decorated with big stereo speakers and other details that "give you the feeling you're hanging out in your friend's basement."

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: David Ritchie, operating partner, Union Brewery LLC

Rochester's historic Chapman House to be converted into a restaurant

The nearly 100-year-old Chapman House in Rochester is in the process of a renovation that will make the former family home turned longtime home furnishings store into a restaurant and elegant event site.

For now the renovation is overshadowing what the Chapman House as a restaurant will be. Besides the painstaking daily details of preserving the historic structure itself, all sorts of historic keepsakes and fun finds are being uncovered.

A decades old Hershey's candy bar wrapper. A 1917 newspaper. Photographs. Original tile. A 200-plus-year-old gas light fixture.

The grand home was built in 1917 by William Clark Chapman, a prominent business owner and politiican, and remained in the Chapman family until 1973, according to the Rochester-Avon Historical Society. Several businesses operated there, most recently a furniture and interior design store. The home also survived two fires.

The renovation could be complete by spring, but developer Geoff Dancik can't yet announce a date. Historic renovation is an uncertain, windy road.

What is known is that a French-inspired restaurant will take up much of the first floor and most of the second floor of the Italian Renaissance-style mansion.

A terrace overlooking Walnut Street, just a few blocks from downtown Rochester, will offer outdoor seating as will part of the grounds behind the home.

The grounds and formal gardens will be available for private events.

As the renovations inside and outside continue, parts of the home such as the iron balconies have been sent away for proper restoration. A centerpiece of one patio, a five-burner gas fixture that dates back to the reign of King George IV during the mid to early 1830s, is also being restored.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Geoff and Brenden Dancik, Chapman House

More mead to flow in Ferndale with opening of Schramm's Mead

Mead may be the next frontier in the world of craft -- craft beer, craft food, craft wine -- and Ferndale will soon be home to two meaderies.

The latest, Schramm's Mead, is under construction at 327 W. 9 Mile and will open in May. It's just a couple of miles from B. Nektar Meadery, which opened a production facility and tasting room several weeks ago.

Schramm's is owned by Ken Schramm, a connoisseur of mead and go-to guy in honey wine circles that are buzzing as mead finds its niche.

Schramm authored The Compleat Meadmaker, the Bible for mead-makers, and founded The Mazer Cup international mead competition.

His meads, often fruity or spiced, will be produced and sold at the new store in downtown Ferndale. There will be a tasting room and food menu. Schramm and his family will run the business and hire several employees.

During a presentation before the Ferndale City Council, when Schramm requested a small winery license, he said he and his family are carrying on a family tradition that goes back to ancestors who came here from Germany, fought for the union in the Civil War, and are still in possession of family farms that go back 100 years in their family.

"The Schramm family has a 160-year history of providing food and drink to metro Detroiters," Schramm says, pointing out that his mother came from Ferndale. "We are thrilled at the opportunity to do business in Ferndale."

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Ken Schramm, founder, Schramm's Mead

Rust Belt Market adding party, event space

Since transforming a vanilla, Old Navy store on Woodward Avenue in Ferndale into a colorful cacophony of artistic sights, sounds - and even smells - The Rust Belt Market is making some changes meant to take the business to the next level.

With two years of operation under their belt, Rust Belt founders Chris and Tiffany Best have decided the weekend-only artists' market needs a full-time pursuit.

With their own money, elbow grease provided by themselves, friends and family and $21,000 raised in a Kickstarter campaign they are renovating the market, adding a party and event space that can be used any day of the week. Currently the market is open only on Saturdays and Sundays and an occasional Friday night for special events. The Bests are also updating restrooms and redesigning the building so that artists' booths will be safe and secure.

The remodel of the market at the corner of Woodward and 9 Mile begins after this weekend. The new event space will cover 4,000 square feet of the 15,000 sq. ft. market. The new space will be right in the center of the market and be used as a flex space, the Bests say.

Rust Belt is an art fair, something the Bests love, but more. Artists, crafters and makers at Rust Belt are screened so that the mix is interesting, the quality and creativity high. Artists of all sorts - furniture and food makers, jewelers, seamstresses, painters, potters and many more - sell from booths that often are their own pieces of art, far from the moveable partitions or collapsible tents a la art fairs. A day at the market is musicians performing, coffee roasters roasting, and crafters carving and polishing.

While the market has clearly set itself apart, giving artists a successful retail outlet for their work and generating plenty of fans who appreciate the building itself for the art it is, the market is missing the business aspect that will let it thrive, the Bests say. The event space may be the answer by attracting more paying customers, such as musicians who have asked to use the space to make videos, to the market.

"During the week, it can be rented out for parties, concerts, art showings, workshops, weddings, yoga classes - almost anything, really," the Bests explain in their Kickstarter appeal. "During the weekend it’ll be home to traveling vendors or marquee artists helping to bring people in from the outer suburbs. It will be open for after-hour event opportunities as well. Most importantly, the resident businesses will not have to disassemble their micro-shops or worry about security issues when Rust Belt hosts events. The market that exists today will be the same cool thing it has been every weekend, but more streamlined, smarter, and with a regular draw. It’s a scary prospect, but the only way to maintain the values we've put forward for ourselves and our business, keep prices low for artists, and increase the traffic through the market is to look for different ways to use the space."

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source:  Chris and Tiffany Best, founders and owner/operators, Rust Belt Market

Tokyo Sushi now rolling in Ferndale

A metro Detroit sushi chain has added a sixth location, this one in Ferndale.

Toyko Sushi opened several weeks ago on Woodward Heights in place of Pete's Place, a closing that brought disappointment to the neighborhood customers and fans.

Tokyo Sushi's latest location is a dine-in or carry-out and also caters. Chef owner, Chris Sayanthone, serves Japanese, Thai and sushi.

While the opening is not in downtown Ferndale, it is one of several businesses locating on the periphery of downtown, including several that are converting light manufacturing facilities into retail businesses.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Chris Hughes, Ferndale Downtown Development Authority

Bloomfield Hills/Birmingham boutique owner sees promise in moving to Grosse Pointe

A Bloomfield Hills/Birmingham boutique owner is opting for the east side, bringing her specialty clothing and personal styling services to the Village business district in Grosse Pointe.

It's another sign, says James V. Bellanca Jr., that development in the Grosse Pointes is at a tipping point.

"She wants to be a part of the changes happening here. It's an exciting time," says Bellanca, an attorney who oversees a family trust that owns property in The Village.

The boutique will open in a space behind City Kitchen and a bath shop on Kercheval Avenue.Opening day will be sometime in May, Bellanca says.

It opens as the City Kitchen restaurant and bar expands in response to demand for barside dining. Down the street David Gilbert, an award-winning chef who's worked around the world and was executive chef at prestigious Forest Grill in Birmingham, is opening a French bistro with his wife, Monica Gilbert. She was general manager at Forest Grill. Marais is expected to open in August, Bellanca says.

Across from Marais in a neighboring block on Kerchveval will be a new hardware store, a still-to-be-disclosed national retailer and a combined medical and retail development in the spot where Borders was once located.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: James V. Bellanca Jr., attorney and property manager

Downtown Rochester seeks public input on parking improvements

Downtown Rochester is coming off a complete rebuild of Main Street, and now city planners see this as an ideal time to determine if parking options downtown also need updating.

To figure it out, the Rochester City Council and the Rochester Downtown Development Authority have gone the survey route, asking anyone with an opinion on what's needed and what's not when it comes to parking. The survey, which also includes an open-ended question, is getting high responses and also yielding useful information not necessarily related to parking, says Kristi Trevarrow, executive director of the Rochester Downtown Development Authority.

"We're getting an insane response, over 100 surveys in the first 40 minutes. We're at almost 800 now," she says.

The Main Street makeover, which was completed in November and included a re-do of downtown sidewalks and the addition of amenities to make being in downtown easier and more convenient, took out all parking meters.

Before deciding whether to replace those and make any other parking changes, say structures, kiosks, or re-arranged lots, the survey was sent out. The city council, planning commission and the DDA will review the findings April 10.

"It's fast. We don't want this to be a long, drawn-out thing…We want it to be a working document," says Trevarrow.

The changes will affect not only immediate parking needs, but attempt to plan for the future. The last parking study was done in 2003 and determined that the parking as it was was adequate.

"If a big development were to come in, maybe residential with retail or a large company, we want to be prepared," Trevarrow says. "The economy is snapping back. At some point there will be a development. We want to be prepared and have that answer when the time comes."

Want to share your thoughts? See the survey here.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Kristi Trevarrow, executive director, Rochester Downtown Development Authority

Borders bookstore block in Grosse Pointe to get new retail, offices

Since Borders bookstore closed in 2011, leaving one of the largest buildings in Grosse Pointe's Village business district empty, the big question has been what would replace it and when.

And when the equally large Ace Hardware located in the same building relocated to Detroit in January, leaving the whole block on Kercheval Avenue empty, the conversation turned more worrisome.

Now the tone is changing as three tenants are making plans to take over the 50,000 square feet of space.

James V. Bellanca Jr., who manages the property for the family trust that owns it, says David DeRonne will open a DeRonne True Value Hardware in part of the space previously occupied by Ace Hardware. A smaller part of that space, about 11,000 square feet, is in negotiations between two retailers, who can't yet be named, Bellanca says.

The third part of the building, about 22,000 square feet where Borders was located, will become a Beaumont Hospital office and retail development. The back portion of the building will be used for medical, the front for retail, he says. It's a fit with the new Neighborhood Club Beaumont Hospital community and wellness center located just behind the Village and within walking distance of the new building.

Bellanca says True Value, which will be run by a family with a 50-year-plus history in the hardware business, could open by late spring or early summer. Beaumont's facility could be open by August. And the tenant in between could be open for business mid-summer.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: James V. Bellanca Jr., attorney and property manager

Lincoln Park calling artists for public art display

A vacant downtown Lincoln Park storefront will become a temporary art gallery filled with artwork from artists

The Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority is inviting art students and artists to display their art work in the storefront windows on Fort Street and Southfield.

The display is connected to the Detroit Institute of Arts Inside/Out Street art program that will install reproductions of masterpieces on building facades in downtown Lincoln Park. The paintings will be up from July through September.

"The goal of the DDA is to provide continuos art experience for visitors attending the Inside/Out program," says Madhu Oberoi, director of the Lincoln Park DDA. "This would be a great opportunity for art students and art enthusiasts."

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Madhu Oberoi, director, downtown Development Authority

Getting Michigan cities redevelopment ready

Just over 35 cities and townships in Michigan are joining a new state program that teaches them how to prepare their communities for redevelopment and attract the kind of development they want.

Of the cities accepted into the first round of training and certification in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Redevelopment Ready Communities program, eight are in metro Detroit. Ann Arbor is also on the list.

It, along with Lathrup Village and Novi, will receive a formal Redevelopment Ready Communities evaluation that could lead to certification as a Redevelopment Ready Community. This means they either have outlined or have plans to outline their redevelopment strategies and draw development to fit their community. This designation could also make them eligible for redevelopment grants.

Dearborn, Clawson, Farmington Hills, Hamtramck, Wixom, and White Lake Township will receive best practice training and assistance and could move onto the certification process later.

They all will learn how to creatively re-use space, support and attract economic innovation, and devise devise plans that bring in redevelopment investment and in turn rebuild thriving communities for employees, residents and recreation.

The program was originally launched by the Michigan Suburbs Alliance in 2003, and its success led to the state program.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Kathy Fagan, spokesperson, Michigan Economic Development Corp.
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