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New restaurant, the Triple Nickel, opens in downtown Birmingham's 555 building

A new restaurant has opened in the south end of downtown Birmingham, expanding dining options to another part of that city's central business district.

Triple Nickel opened April 9 in a renovated two-level storefront in the 555 Building at 555 Old South Woodward. It is co-owned by Marc & Petrina Blancke and business partners.

Marc Blancke is owner of Sindbad's restaurant and marina, an institution on Detroit's riverfront. Sindbad's head chef, John Fleming, is the menu creator and head of the kitchen at Triple Nickel, which will turn out regional favorites from around the country such as Maryland crab cakes and Boston bibb salad.

The Triple Nickel is billed as an American-themed tavern and meant to be a more affordable and casual option in Birmingham's restaurant scene.

The restaurant fills a two-story, 6,500-square-foot space inside the 555 office and retail development, and will feature outdoor patios with fireplaces and decks. TVs are part of the updated casual take on early American decor. The main dining room's windows also open up to give the restaurant an outdoor feel.

Source: Birmingham Principal Shopping District
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lost Lake Distillery in the works in downtown Wyandotte

A former nightclub in downtown Wyandotte may become a distillery, tasting room, and lounge.

Alex Bohl of Grosse Ile is in the early stags of developing the Lost Lake Distillery at 142 Maple, previously known as Studio 142.

Phase 1 of the project, according to the Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority, will open in 6 to 9 months. It will focus on research and development, selling spirits to go and giving customers a role in tasting and testing the products. There will also be a local history bent to the operation as a way to add to the customer experience.

The timeline for Phase 2, a much broader and more ambitious project, is unknown, but Bohl plans to transform the top two floors of the building into a 14,000-square-foot facility consisting of the still operation, tasting bars, lounges, lofts, and decks.

The DDA has awarded the project a $5,000 exterior facade grant.

Source: Natalie Rankine, director, Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine


Dearborn's Arab American National Museum to celebrate 10th anniversary with expansion

The Arab American National Museum has added a new wing that will act as a performance hall and a gathering space for artists. It will also host special collaborations with local and national cultural groups and institutions.

The opening of the 4,700-square-foot annex on March 27 coincided with news that the museum is sending its exhibit, "Little Syria," to New York. "Little Syria" documents life in a once-vibrant Lower Manhattan Arab neighborhood, one of the earliest Arab American settlements in the U.S. The exhibit will be on display at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum from Oct. 1, 2016 to Jan. 9, 2017.

The Arab American National Museum opened on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn 10 years ago this May. In that time, the museum has built itself into a reputable institution with the purpose of exploring and explaining Arab American culture and history. It is the only southeast Michigan affiliate of the Smithsonian, which is helping organize the transporting of "Little Syria" to New York.

The expansion opportunity arose when two neighboring businesses on Michigan Avenue became vacant. The Annex features a moveable stage and light and sound systems for live performances.

"TEN:The Exhibition" will celebrate the museum's decade of existence with a collection of works by 10 leading Arab American artists.

Source: Arab American National Museum and East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Mini custard empire swirls across metro Detroit with third location

Erma's Original Frozen Custard, a 73-year-old, family-owned custard business, is swirling up enough success with its fresh-made custards and specialty parfaits that it's adding a third location.

The latest Erma's Original Frozen Custard opened at 28840 Harper Ave. in St. Clair Shores April 1. Its other two stands, one on 14 Mile Rd. in Warren that was opened six years ago, and the original 1942 location at 6451 Auburn Rd. in Shelby Township, opened for the season on the same day.

Jason Eagle, Erma's manager and director of marketing, says the St. Clair Shores location fulfilled a plan to expand further east.

"We've had a lot of fans over the years say they wanted a location on this side of town," Eagle says.

Erma's moved into what was a Dairy Boy after the owner decided to sell.

"We were happy to talk to him," Eagle says.

Erma's makes fresh custards each week: a vanilla, a chocolate, and a bonus flavor that typically contains fruit, nuts, or candy. Pistachio and Italian ice are also on the menu, as are 25 parfait varieties advertised on Erma's signature hand-painted signs.

Erma's opened in 1942 and was sold in the 1980s to a family that was part of the business. That family is now in its third generation of operating Erma's.

Source: Jason Eagle, manager and director of marketing, Erma's Original Frozen Custard
Writer: Kim North Shine

Venezuelan eatery brings arrepas and other South American specialties to Grosse Pointe Woods

Garrido's Bistro & Bakery opened this week on busy Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods, where it is welcoming customers who are excited to try the arepas and other Venezuelan specialties on its menu.

As it works out the kinks of a new restaurant, hours are limited to the daytime and the owners are serving breakfast and a prix fixe lunch menu. Eventually weekend brunch and dinner will be served.

Garrido's is a passion project of the Venezuelan owners who have support of family and their church in Tampa, Florida.

The hope is to find a following of customers who want something unique.

At Garrido's, that includes a Venezuelan meal of arepas, flat corn cakes stuffed with savory ingredients. The Reina Pepiada, or Venezuelan Queen, is stuffed with pulled chicken covered in mayo and avocado slices. The jamon y queso is ham and cheese and the carne mechada is pulled beef.

A bakery will turn out fresh breads and desserts, while the kitchen will prepare fresh dishes.

The drink menu offers several mixtures of loose teas. The Ayurvedic Total Body is made with peppermint, spearmint, ginger, rosehip, rooibos, rose, hibiscus, sunflower, calendula and osmanthus petals. Orange Grove Vanilla is a drink of naturally dried apple pieces, rosehip, hibiscus, red thistle, naturally dried orange pieces and sunflower petals.

Source: Garrido's
Writer: Kim North Shine

Untapped market for plus-size resale leads to three stores for HIPS Boutique

When Vikki Stoddart discovered that resale shops for plus size women were virtually non-existent, she decided to launch a business that since has uncovered an eager customer base.

After working in marketing and advertising, Stoddart, a Ferndale resident, opened her first HIPS Resale Boutique store four years ago at 10 S. Main St. in downtown Clawson. By October 2012, she added a second location on busy Gratiot Avenue in Roseville. At 2,000 square feet, it was double the size of her Clawson store.

It wasn't long after opening in Roseville that Stoddart began looking for a location for a third store. She needed to keep up with demand from an untapped market looking for quality, stylish clothing in sizes 12 and larger, especially sizes 18-24. She found her next store in downtown Detroit, where she had hoped to "be a part of the renaissance of the city."

On Monday, March 30, the newest HIPS Resale Boutique opens in the Penobscot Building, a landmark Detroit skyscraper on Griswold Street. It will join other retailers as part of the Shops at Penobscot. A VIP celebration is planned for Friday, March 27.

Like other HIPS shops, the 1,200-square-foot Detroit store will sell clothing sizes 12 up to 6X and 7X, as well as handbags, jewelry and accessories for women of any size.

"We are so excited," says Stoddart. "The building itself is so amazing. We spent 30 hours scraping the floors, using five gallons of vinegar and scraping the glue left from the carpet we ripped up. Underneath is amazing white tile. It's just beautiful."

Stoddart realized there was a lack of plus size resale options after she and a friend began looking for a place to sell new, unworn, and lovely things that belonged to her friend.

"[Resale shops] definitely were not interested in the sizes I had, which were 2X and 3X," she says. "I did research and thought, 'How is this possible?' The average size of a woman in the USA is 14 and there is nothing out there for them."
About a year ago, HIPS opened an online store. "We began getting requests from out of state and from customers who had moved away and had nothing like this where they were living."

The online store, like the physical stores, is thriving, she says.

"There is absolutely a demand for this. Being a plus-sized woman, the options you have are already very limited, and the options you do have are expensive and overpriced."

Source: Vikki Stoddart, owner, HIPS Resale Boutique
Writer: Kim North Shine

Will downtown Birmingham valet service end hunt for parking spaces?

Economically, it can be a good thing for a downtown to have a parking shortage. It typically means businesses are thriving and commercial vacancies are low. For shoppers and visitors, however, there's really no upside.

With that in mind, a downtown-wide valet service is coming to Birmingham from April 2 to May 30. The service will be available noon to 6 p.m. Thursday - Saturday. The cost to use the valet is $4. There will be two pick-up locations: next to Roots at Henrietta and West Maple and at Comerica Bank on Old Woodward at Hamilton Row. Shoppers can call the valet when they're ready to be picked up.

"With warming weather, parking use increases significantly in April and May," says John Heiney, executive director of Birmingham's Principal Shopping District. "Plus, our merchants have told us that their customers have asked for this convenience."

He says downtown is at 98 percent occupancy and about 100,000 square feet of office space is being built over the next 18 months. The valet service, which was offered last spring and over the holidays, is a temporary fix to what looks to be a long term parking problem. Demand is increasing, Heiney said.

The city has established a steering committee to look at expanding the parking system and consider short term solutions such as relocating employee parking.

The company, In House Valet, will operate the service, which is being subsidized by the Principal Shopping District, an organization made up of downtown business owners that works in partnership with the city.

Source: John Heiney, executive director, Principal Shopping District
Writer: Kim North Shine

Revived bandshell where Bob Seger and the MC5 played could bring new music to downtown Lincoln Park

The Lincoln Park band shell may experience a reprise as a downtown concert venue if a crowdfunding campaign and partnership between the city and state succeed.

The campaign to raise $10,000 in donations from the public -- and in turn receive matching funds from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.(MEDC) -- started this week and ends April 16. As of late Wednesday, March 18, the goal was almost met.

The city's effort to raise money to refurbish and reopen the Kennedy Memorial Park Band Shell falls under the Public Spaces Community Places collaboration between the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patroncity.

Patroncity sponsors fundraising campaigns that help locals support development of strategic projects in their communities. The donations are matched with MEDC grants. Besides communities, nonprofits and other businesses can apply for crowdfunding projects on Patroncity.

The redevelopment of Lincoln Park's deteriorating art deco band shell has been identified as a strategic project that could stimulate the local economy. The public performance space brought many acts -- famous and not so famous -- to its stage during the last 50-plus years.

“Name a community and you often think of a building, park, landmark, or some other asset that makes you identify with that city,” says Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League. “In Lincoln Park, the band shell is one of those attractions. By contributing to this crowdfunding effort, residents - for years to come - can take pride in something they helped revitalize.”

Bob Seger, who attended high school locally for a time, performed many times at the band shell. Members of legendary local rock band the MC5 were Lincoln Park High students and regulars at the band shell before they headed to national fame.

“The Kennedy Memorial Park Band Shell is an important part of Lincoln Park’s history, and with the help of residents, businesses, and others, we can ensure that it is a part of the city’s future,” says MEDC community assistance team specialist Nate Scramlin.

The money raised will pay for repairs and add amenities to the stage, structure, and grounds, as well as bring musical performers to the 1950s-era venue.

“The Band Shell has a classic art deco design and is a jewel for our community,” says Lincoln Park’s emergency manager Brad Coulter. “Refurbishing the structure and restarting regular musical events at the Band Shell is a key piece in reinventing Lincoln Park for future generations.”

Source: Nate Pilon, spokesperson, MEDC
Writer: Kim North Shine

Northville becomes Michigan's second Granite City eatery location

Northville is getting a new restaurant in Granite City, the second metro Detroit location for the Minneapolis-based chain of brewpubs.

The Northville Granite City is scheduled to open in April at 39603 Traditions Dr. near 7 Mile and Haggerty roads. It is part of the 82-acre Northville Park Place development, which is in the second phase of construction. The development is on the site of the closed Northville Psychiatric Hospital.

Beer will be brewed in house and food will be made from scratch.

Granite City's only Michigan location to date is in Troy. It's regularly packed with customers waiting for tables and is a big draw for special beer-themed events. A third location is planned for the Renaissance Center in Detroit later this year. Northville will be the 33rd Granite City nationally.

The development site is a mix of retail and public space, including a park and trails that connect to Northville neighborhoods. The University of Michigan Northville Medical Center is located at Park Place along with other restaurants and retailers.

The opening creates 200 full- and part-time jobs.

Source: Marie Stawasz, Franco Public Relations Group
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dowtown Mount Clemens church hopes to serve community with new coffee business

The Well, a downtown Mount Clemens church, is opening a coffee shop that will be part business and part spiritual mission.

Ricardo Arredondo, pastor of The Well, expects More Than Coffee to open Friday, March 12 at 42 Pine St.

"[The coffee shop will] let us meet the people where they are as opposed to trying to get them to come to us," says Arrendondo.

In addition to serving quality, locally roasted coffee, the shop will be a place to worship; there's an area in the back where The Well has held services for months. The shop will also provide homeless people with job training in service industry positions.

More Than Coffee takes the place of Che Cosa, a coffee shop and lunch spot that moved to Clinton Township several months ago. The new shop will feature a rotating variety of local roasts. The first will be Great Lakes Coffee from Detroit. Anthology Coffee in Detroit and Dessert Oasis Coffee in Rochester will be in the initial line-up as well.

"The interesting thing about downtown Mount Clemens is there's so much diversity," says Arredondo, who spends Thursday nights on downtown streets and sidewalks reaching out to homeless locals.

"You have lawyers who have offices downtown. You have people coming in for jury duty, people coming in for court. You have people that are coming for the Oakland University center downtown. You have moms dropping their kids off at school who may want to stop in for a coffee. You have people coming in who want coffee, Wi-Fi and to work.

No matter where the customers come from, Arredondo wants them to have great coffee whether being part of greater mission or the church is important to them.

"Really, we're not trying to say, 'Hey! We're a church.' We're trying to say, 'Hey! We have this vision to just serve people coffee while we help people at the same time."

Source: Richard Arredondo, pastor, The Well, and operator of More Than Coffee
Writer: Kim North Shine


Meza bringing Mexican food to downtown Royal Oak

Two metro Detroit restaurant veterans are teaming up to open a new Mexican restaurant in downtown Royal Oak.

Michael Sophiea and Darrel Krause are partners in Meza, a Mexican restaurant, at 312 South Main St.

After renovations, the 3,000-square-foot restaurant will feature 148 seats, including 16 bar stools and outdoor seating for 24. Demolition has already begun.

Besides a restaurant and bar, Meza will feature live entertainment including bands and DJs.

Sophiea has owned and managed Oak Grill in Royal Oak and also was previous owner of two bars, Rumors and Local 212. Krause's restaurant resume includes Duggan's Irish Pub, Woody's Diner, Lakeview Grille in Oxford, and Post Bar in Novi,

Together they own and operate Ciccarelli's sports bars in Auburn Hills and Detroit.

Source: city of Royal Oak
Writer: Kim North Shine

New business lab at Oakland University gives students access to cutting-edge Wall Street tech

A newly renovated business lab at Oakland University is giving students access to Bloomberg financial terminals that are used by many professionals in the financial sector to analyze company data, financial news, industry research, and more.

The 10 dual-screen Bloomberg terminals opened in January, giving OU students access to the same info used by brokers, investors, and other financial planners and advisors. The terminals also come with Bloomberg Professional Service, which trains students and tests them on their decisions and predictions.

Oakland University's lab is one of a handful in Michigan and is seen by administrators as a way to best prepare students for financial careers, giving them early access to tools that many would have been required to learn on the job.

Source: Nivedita Mukherji, associate professor of economics, associate dean, Oakland University
Writer: Kim North Shine

Barbecue joint adds to downtown Wyandotte's restaurant options this summer

Downtown Wyandotte's main street is getting a new barbecue restaurant this summer in ALVI's BBQ.

"Our focus will be on rustic-themed, down-home southern barbecue," says ALVI's owner Al Fritz.

The downtown space at 3233 Biddle Ave. will be restored to its original 1921 condition, he says. There will be a mix of family-style tables and tables for four and two. An outdoor dining area is also planned as the city works to increase the number of establishments with sidewalk dining.

The facade for Alvi's is undergoing a complete overhaul as renovations for the dining room and kitchen, which will turn out ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, sausage, wings and catfish.

Source: Natalie Rankine, director, Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Shuttered Sears store in downtown Wyandotte to become lofts, shops and more

The demolition of a former Sears & Roebuck department store will clear the way for a $5.3 million development of loft apartments, restaurants, retail, and commercial space in downtown Wyandotte.

The neighboring Sears auto repair garage is part of the Roebuck Residential project, which calls for the renovation of the three-story structure at 3061 Biddle Ave. and new construction of a four-story building next door at 3063 Biddle, Wyandotte's main street. Completion is expected by early 2016.

The renovation of the existing three-story building will bring about a 9,600-square-foot first floor to be occupied by a restaurant and other commercial businesses retailers. The second floor of the same square footage will become office space for two tenants, and the third floor, also 9,600 square feet, will be converted into nine loft-style apartments (six one-bedroom units and three two-bedroom units) with access to an open air rooftop terrace. The basement and mezzanine levels of the building will be renovated into storage space and common areas.

A newly constructed four-story building next door will rise in place of demolished department store and will contain an entrance lobby, stairwell, and elevator for the larger mixed-use building next door.

The project has been in the works since 2012 when the DDA purchased the property for $530,000. Since then, storage tanks have been removed from the site and other environmental preparations have been made. The development is expected to be create 56 jobs.

Developer Joe Daly bought the property from the DDA in 2014 for $350,000. Since then, the city of Wyadotte, the DDA, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have chipped in tax abatements, grants, and other financial assistance worth nearly $3 million as the parties worked together to transform the long-vacant site into an economically viable part of downtown.

Source: Natalie Rankine, Downtown Development Director, city of Wyandotte
Writer: Kim North Shine

Golf year-round at new downtown Birmingham business

Golf pro Bob Krause has turned a downtown Birmingham office space into a year-round place to learn and practice golf.

4-Seasons Golf, a members-only club inside Suite 21U inside the shorter of the two buildings at 555 South Old Woodward, is outfitted with two indoor golf simulators and three practice bays, one of which will be used for private lessons.

The business is in soft-opening mode after an open house last week that welcomed prospective members.

"We've had great feedback and we're signing up members now. We want to take our time so we can give members the best service possible," says Stephanie Krause, Bob's wife and acting general manager.

"It's a very unique business model," she says. "There's nothing else like it here."

The company's market is all golfers, especially those who can't go south to play during the winter and those who want something other than public golf domes and sports bar simulators to practice in the off-season.

"Golf is an important game to play all year long if you want to keep up your game," says Krause.

The 4,000-square-foot facility was renovated to give it a country club feel, including a pro shop, lockers, changing area, liquor lockers, and other amenities for members. Members can entertain guests for an additional fee or can play against fellow members on the simulators, which are in comfortably furnished rooms and offer a choice of 30 courses.

The practice bays are connected to a software that analyzes every ball hit into nets covering the ceilings.

Private lessons for members and non-members are available, and the entire space can be rented for special events and parties.

Source: Stephanie Krause, acting general manager, 4-Seasons Golf
Writer: Kim North Shine
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