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Stella's Black Dog Tavern in Plymouth adding to winter patio dining

The heaters came first. Then the thick, warm chair cushions. The glass door walls that went in earlier this year gave Stella's Black Dog Tavern in downtown Plymouth a true year-round patio, something more and more restaurants are seeing as  a necessity as customers seek an al fresco meal whether the weather is optimal or not.

Next up for Stella's Black Dog is an outdoor fireplace. It goes in this week and will be a focal point of a sold-out seating celebration Nov. 20. The date coincides with the one-year anniversary of owner Bob Ostendorf purchasing the restaurant and bar.

"The patio just keeps evolving. The first thing we did was make the patio bigger. We added the cover, and the heaters were great, but not enough for temperatures under 30, " says general manager Rose Drys. "With the glass door walls and the fireplace, the lights that will be up for Christmas and the snowfall, it will be so beautiful. It will be like you're sitting out in the snowfall."

The restaurant was the first, or among the first, in downtown Plymouth to have a winter patio, she says, and the only one to have a cover for rain.

"It's crazy not to use the space. It is an extension of our dining room," she says. "It more than doubles our occupancy. It's imperative we make it part of our dining room."

Source: Rose Drys, general manager, Stella's Black Dog Tavern
Writer: Kim North Shine

The Cheese Lady cheese shop opens in downtown Farmington

It started after a couple found a cheese store they loved in Grand Rapids. After it became a regular stop during their visits to the city, they decided they wanted to bring The Cheese Lady to metro Detroit.

At first it didn't look like it was going to happen, says Joe Mantey, co-owner of The Cheese Lady that's opening today in downtown Farmington at 33041 Grand River Avenue.

The business owners, who had started the first of three stores in Muskegon many years ago, were ready to put the cheese slicer down and cut out a life as retirees.

"But after they heard about my involvement with Farmington Main Street and downtown re-development, they decided to do one more store," says Mantey.

"They had opened their store in Muskegon for the same reason we want to: to help bring the downtown back," says Mantey.

The Cheese Lady's founders came to town, saw that there were vacancies to be filled in downtown Farmington, and said OK to a franchise.

In the meantime, Mantey, his wife Kendra, and family and friends began marketing the business that's known in western Michigan by selling at the Farmington farmers market, which is across the street from the new shop.

The new store will open with 70 varieties of cheese, with samples set out on stainless steel work tables. Eventually 150 varieties will be sold as well. Wheels of cheese can be pulled from the shelves while a cheesemonger "will directly interact with customers," Mantey says.

"There are no deli cases between the customers and the cheesemonger," he says. "And no one has to be embarrassed about asking to sample, it's all out."

Eventually The Cheese Lady in Farmington plans to sell Michigan craft beer and wines that pair well with cheese. Crackers, preserves, and cutting boards are also for sale, most made in Detroit or Michigan.

Source: Joe Mantey, co-owner, The Cheese Lady in Farmington
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Harman Industries building $45 million complex in Novi

Novi will be home to a new $45 million complex that will consolidate several facilities operated by Harman International Industries.

Harman manufacturers audio and infotainment systems for consumer, professional and automotive uses.   

The company will invest $45 million in the Novi facility will and hire 150 new employees to work there.

Source: city of Novi
Writer: Kim North Shine

Downtown Dearborn says hello to free parking

The city of Dearborn is testing the common thinking that paid parking deters business.

Starting in early 2015, user-paid parking systems in public lots and parking decks will be phased out and replaced with free time-limited parking spaces.

New spaces will be designated for 2-, 3-, 8- or 12-hour timeframes, and vehicles exceeding those time frames will be ticketed. Parking spots closest to businesses will have the most limited times to encourage turnover. Employees in the west downtown district can use longer timed spots.

The same system will eventually spread to east downtown Dearborn.

Mayor John B. O'Reilly Jr. and a city parking commission proposed the change and the city council approved it nearly two weeks ago to "encourage greater interest from real estate developers and to boost customer activity." and also to "address the perception that paid parking is an obstacle to redevelopment."

“This is a very positive step that will help us achieve our goal of promoting more investment and activity in the west downtown," O'Reilly says. "To get the best results for our local economy, we need to be realistic and remove anything that is perceived as an impediment to recreating a robust and vibrant business district.”

Source: city of Dearborn and East Downtown Dearborn Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

House-made, small-batch brews on tap at Farmington Brewing Co.

The fermenters are fermenting and the taps that will serve what the owners jokingly refer to as happiness are in and operating at the soon-to-open Farmington Brewing Company.

Opening day, however, comes Nov. 15, after renovations to the 1,600-square-foot space at 33336 Grand River in downtown Farmington are complete.

The bar arrived recently. Not long after, the taps were installed. Several suds varieties, IPAs, Blood Orange Wheat and Raspberry Stout among them, are brewing.

The owners, Jason Schlaff, Jason Hendricks and partner Gary Schlaff, plan to open in mid-November, several weeks behind schedule, but with beer the former home brewers expect to be proud to serve.

Schlaff and Hendricks are environmental engineers and chemists and hobby brewers who decided to combine their knowledge of chemistry and beer into a business.

The brewery will not serve food, but is working with local Farmington restaurants on delivery service agreements.

Source: Jason Hendricks, brewer and partner Farmington Brewing Company and Farmington Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Sports fans cheer for new downtown Rochester biz

Autographed baseballs, collectible sports cards, jerseys, helmets and all manner of sports gear and paraphernalia make up the stock of a new shop in downtown Rochester.

Rochester Sports Cards & Memorabilia opened earlier this month at 407 South Main Street.

Customers are kid collectors and serious purveyors of athletes' autographs.

All sports are represented in the merchandise, and the owner has years of experience in the world of memorabilia collecting, authenticating and dealing.

Source: Rochester Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine


 

Six businesses open in Grosse Pointe's Village

At least six new businesses opened in October in and around Grosse Pointe's downtown Village district.

All replaced vacant shops or filled in available office space and are mixing up the variety of businesses in the three-block retail area that often was the butt of jokes for its overabundance of coffee and bagel shops.

New businesses along Kercheval Avenue and on St. Clair, just off of the main street that runs through the Village, include:

* Shoe Tree, a women's shoe and accessories store. 17121 Kercheval Ave.
* Massage Green, the first Grosse Pointe franchise of the national brand built on affordable massage and spa services. 664 St. Clair
* Christiane Larue, the second location of the successful Birmingham boutique that sells and styles customers in ready to wear and formal attire from designers rarely found in metro Detroit or Michigan. 17114 Kercheval Ave.
*City Bark, a pet boutique with always changing merchandise for pets and and people who love pets. 17027 Kercheval Ave.
* Grosse Pointe Fine Homes is opening as the local real estate market improves. The office is the first Southeast Michigan location for the national brokerage Weichert Realty. 648 St. Clair.
* Creative Design has an office above Einstein Bagels at 16828 Kercheval Ave. and designs cancer-, Alzheimer's- and autism- awareness items such as apparel, jewelry and gifts.

Source: Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Kim North Shine

Oakland U building first fire science lab in Midwest

Oakland University wants to build the first fire-science lab in the Midwest.

Manufacturers have already donated $275,000 of equipment that would go into the Fire Science Lab, which would be a classroom for OU's Occupational Safety & Health students, a training site for employees who work in fire and safety for private manufacturers, the government and a range of workplaces. It would also be a field-trip site for companies wanting to prepare their employees for fire emergencies.

Inside the lab, real fires can be set, sustained and extinguished for an up-close understanding and analysis of the operation and effectiveness of fire suppression equipment, devices and systems.

Fire code enforcement agencies, government agencies, safety consulting firms, insurance companies and a multitude of manufacturers large and small can use the laboratory to provide training, demonstrations and certifications.

While donations for equipment have been given, there is still a need for donations to build the lab, and OU is looking for sponsors. Once the construction costs are covered, the lab could be operational within four to six weeks, says Dr. Charles McGlothlin, special instructor and director of OU’s Occupational Safety and Health program. For more information on sponsorships, click here.

The lab would be the first of its kind in the Midwest and one of about a dozen nationwide, he says.

“The addition of the new Fire Safety Laboratory will give our graduates the advantage of experiencing first-hand the capabilities of various fire suppression systems and devices," he says.The training will also lead them to jobs that are in short supply in the fire safety industry.

"Today’s safety professionals play an essential role helping companies maintain profitability while ensuring safe, healthy workplaces and environments," he says. "We are driven to continuously improve, keeping pace with ever-changing needs of the market -- the future industries and employers of our graduates," McGlothlin says. "The Fire Safety Laboratory is a tremendous resource which we intend to put to use to benefit the greater community, state and region."

Source: Brian Bierley, spokesperson, Oakland University, and Dr. Charles McGlothlin, special instructor and director, Occupational Safety & Health program at Oakland University
Writer: Kim North Shine

Caffe Far Bella moves, doubles space in St. Clair Shores

Caffe Far Bella, a mom-and-pop run coffee shop and cafe that is consistently packed for breakfast and lunch, is making a move to a bigger spot in St. Clair Shores.

The new location at Mack Avenue near 10 Mile is only 185 steps away from the current cafe. The new space along a busy retail road is twice the size of the old cafe, which was voted best coffee shop four years in a row in WDIV's Best Of Detroit polls.

While it may be known more widely for its coffee, the five-year-old cafe has customers lining up daily for fresh baked goods, changing soups, panini, salads and Italian sodas.

While the restaurant will be bigger, the owners, who pride themselves on great food and on their relationship with customers, will maintain the cozy, personal feel of the space that they say is like a home away from home. The new location will open by mid-November.

Source: Caffe Far Bella
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

New Kahve House brewing coffee in downtown Clawson

A stay-at-home mom is running a coffee shop in downtown Clawson that has locals celebrating it half-jokingly as a long-awaited alternative to 7-11.

Kahve House opened over the weekend at 22 South Main Street and has been serving a steady flow of customers since. It is filing the void in businesses that offer fresh roasted beans, specialty coffee drinks, straight quality java and various noshes. A recent enticement: Turkish coffee with baklava.

Ana and Denis Bureau own the shop and wanted to combine their love of good coffee and their hometown of Clawson by starting a business downtown.

They opened during the Great Pubkin Crawl over the weekend, an event of the Clawson Downtown Development Authority, and saw just how much interest there is in a business like theirs.

Source: Clawson Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

City Bark in Grosse Pointe wants to be farmer's market of pet stores

Jamie Judson has tapped into her love of animals and her hometown of Grosse Pointe by opening a new pet store in the Village shopping district on Kercheval Avenue.

City Bark opened Oct. 10 at 17027 Kercheval in a 1,600-square-foot space advertised with a stylized metallic sign that is easily one of the most creative and eye-catching in the area.

Judson says the best way to describe her vision for City Bark is a farmer's market of pet shops, where the selection is always fresh and changing. It is the opposite of big chains and more comfortable than high-end boutiques.

"The difference between City Bark and other pet stores is comparing the situation to a grocery store and a farmer’s market. You go to the grocery store, list in hand, knowing what you’re going to buy. You know what products are there and where to find them. It’s the same thing with a generic pet store. You are going there for something specific. But when you go to a farmer’s market, you go to explore. You go because the items are always changing. It’s about the experience, and that’s exactly what we aim for with City Bark."

Judson, 25, works full-time for a digital marketing company in Ferndale and part-time at the store, which also supports the Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society. Judson volunteers there and is fostering a St. Bernard mix. She also owns a German shepherd and a 24-year-old cockatoo that she adopted in the summer. The dogs and the bird, Cleo, are regulars at the store, and shoppers are invited to bring their pets along.

City Bark sells accessories for pets and pet lovers: collars, leashes, toys, fashion accessories, and home décor. Pet food and pet treats are also sold, as are pet beds and clothing for people.

"All of our products are unique, and the majority of them cannot be found at any big-box pet store," Judson says. "I had always talked about opening up a pet boutique with my family since I love animals so much and I am always looking for new, fun items for my dogs. This summer the pieces fell into place and we moved forward with City Bark."

Having a shop in the Village makes becoming a business owner all the more sweet.

"Just like most Grosse Pointers, the Village is part of my every day life. It's great to be able to bring something I'm so passionate about to a place I have such fond memories of."

Source: Jamie Judson, owner, City Bark
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Friendship Factory's blend of social good and retail comes to Rochester

The Friendship Factory has added a second store in downtown Rochester, expanding from its Clinton Township location where crafting, parties and lessons in kindness have combined into a good business idea.

The newest Friendship Factory brought its bracelet makers, beads, stickers lanyards, and oodles of craft supplies to the former Avon Township Library at 210 West University in downtown Rochester. The crafts combine with the owners' wish to help girls weather storms of friendship and socializing.

Both stores, the one at Partridge Creek shopping center in Clinton Township, and the new one host birthday parties, Moms Night Out events, painting parties, holiday gatherings and have rotating themes such as the current Michigan-Michigan State rivalry.

Whether dropping in to craft or there for a party, the point of the interactive studio is to "connect friends and family and build friendships."

It also offers friendship-building workshops hosted by a licensed therapist. The owners want its target market, 8- to 14-year-old girls, to understand how relationships change and how to manage change with social skills that emphasize support and kindness.

Source: Friendship Factory
Writer: Kim North Shine

Warp 9 comics enters phase 2 with renovated shop in downtown Clawson

Warp 9 Comics and Collectibles has built a loyal customer following after 15 years in business, and now with a new owner and a renovated space it's time to put down the next panel in Warp 9's story.

The new owner, Trey Hunt, hosted a grand opening party Oct. 18. The store is located at 21 W. 14 Mile Road in downtown Clawson and attracts customers from across metro Detroit.

Comic book artists, costumes and comic idol cookies were part of the grand opening party. The store sells toys as well and also is an eBay dealer.

Besides painting, cleaning and re-organizing the store, where Hunt worked before buying it from the previous owner, the plan is to make Warp 9 a family-friendly shop and destination for comic art.

Source: Warp 9
Writer: Kim North Shine

DIY drives Adore Eclectic Interiors home consignment store

An interior decorator who made a business out of re-using what's already in clients' homes and complementing it with affordable accessories has opened her own home consignment store in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Marleen Prater, owner of Remixed Rooms, decided to go into retail after a decade as an interior decorator and striking out too often on quality, affordable home goods stores.

Adore Eclectic Interiors opened Monday at 20725 Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods, and "we had a very good opening day. Things are flying out the door," says Prater.

Besides selling home furnishings and accessories from the shop, she staffs painters, furniture re-purposers to change or customize pieces and experienced designers to lead classes for customers who want to make the changes themselves.

"Number one, we want very unique, cool pieces," she says. "So many times people are re-decorating or moving and things just don't fit. We are here for them when they need a place for those nice things, and we're here for customers who need that special piece or that new arrangement that can change the look and feel of their home. Number two, we want it to be very affordable."

She and the women she works with envision Adore as a place to get advice, talk about their homes, what's good and what's bad about them, how they can make their homes what they want them to be, and to learn how to make the changes they want.

"We see it as an experience. We have fresh coffee, homemade cookies and lots to talk about," says Prater.

Source: Marleen Prater, owner, Adore Eclectic Interiors
Writer: Kim North Shine

Joe's Hamburgers moves to larger space in downtown Wyandotte

An entrepreneur's dream to open a hamburger joint like the one his grandfather took him to as a child is now a thriving business in Wyandotte.

Jeremy Sladovnik's Joe's Hamburgers opened five years ago in a tight spot on Elm Street, just off downtown Wyandotte's main drag. Several weeks ago, Joe's moved to the main street, Biddle Avenue, and took on a larger spot and added a bar.

His old spot was reborn as The Little Pierogi and Crepe Kitchen and is run by one of his former employees.

The new Joe's Hamburger at 3041 Biddle Avenue is double the size of the old place, and has rich wood booths instead of tables and chairs. It also has a bar and is making community events a bigger part of the business plan. It still serves a simple menu of sliders, poutine, pierogi, grilled cheeses, soups and milkshakes, malts and sundaes.

This week a Saturday brunch is planned as is a craft beer party with Shorts Brewing out of Bellaire, Michigan.

Source: Joe's Hamburgers
Writer: Kim North Shine

 
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