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Ypsi fave Rocket Candy bringing sweets & fun to downtown Ferndale

After eight years of selling candy -- and fun, really -- from its downtown Ypsilanti store, The Rocket is expanding to Ferndale and opening a second location.

The Rocket Candy & Novelties opens at 23147 Woodward Ave. this Friday, and the store will be stocked with confections, packaged and bulk, and colorful, crazy, funky and retro toys, cards, t-shirts and other novelties like Archie McFee collection from Seattle and Lip Shit lip balm.

The locally-made t-shirts, like the Ypsi store, will include designs that give a shout out to Ferndale, Detroit and Michigan.

The 2,600-square-foot store is located in a new building near 9 Mile and the owners, Eli Morrissey and Paul Balcom, see Ferndale's fun and eclectic mix of businesses as a good fit for their bacon toys, wasabi gum balls, popsicle and Sharknado ornaments.

There's an eddy entrepreneurial mix here," he says. "We feel it's very similar to Ypsi, and this is just a good place for us to be."

They opened the Ypsi store in 2006 as a way to "bring life to downtown. We wanted to open a store that would draw people in," says Morrissey.

"I guess it started off as an idealistic notion, and it's worked out," he says. "The nice thing about expanding is it creates new jobs here and at our Ypsi store."

Source: Eli Morrissey, co-owner, The Rocket
Writer: Kim North Shine

Highest bidder to push demolition button on OCC building in Southfield

Oakland Community College's investment in property in Southfield is kicking off with an unusual fundraiser.

The college's foundation, which raises money to support students and school projects, is offering the highest bidder the opportunity to push the button on the demolition of a 17-story building, North Park Plaza.

OCC purchased the 42-year-old, 340,000-square-foot property earlier this year. As of Wednesday the bidding was at $8,000.

No date has been set for construction of a future site nor any firm plans made of what will replace the building, but Southfield is the fastest growing of OCC's five campuses. OCC is the largest community college campus in Michigan and the 25th largest in the nation.

Source: Margarita Wagerson, spokesperson Oakland Community College
Writer: Kim North Shine

Birmingham's Griffin Claw Brewing adds bottle spirit sales

Griffin Claw Brewing Company is now in the business of selling bottled vodka, gin and rum from its taproom in Birmingham.

Earlier this year the brewery, which has made its name in craft beer, added liquors to the menu. Bottled sales were the next step.

The lineup: Griffin Claw Grain Vodka, Griffin Claw Potato Vodka, Griffin Claw Botanical Gin and Griffin Claw Black Strap Rum sell for $20 each and can be purchased inside the taproom. The brewery will also be releasing KRUPNIK, a polish style honey liqueur in a 750ml bottle, for $20, for the holiday season as well as its popular Oblivious Wheat Wine in a 22-oz. wax-dipped bomber bottle for $17.

Griffin Claw biergarten and taproom are at 575 S. Eton St. The 12,000-square-foot operation in the city's Rail District includes a brewing system, distillery, and distribution operation.

Source, Jaclyn Robinson, JT Marketing Group
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dragonmead Brewery expands with new brewing system

Dragonmead Microbrewery has expanded its brewing system, filling up the entire 11,000-square foot facility where it brews award-winning beers -- and ales and mead -- in Warren.

The facility at 14600 E. 11 Mile Road includes a 1,000-square-foot tap room that sells dozens of beers on tap and serves food from nearby Lazybones Smokehouse.

By installing a smaller batch brewing system, the expansion allows the brewery to not only keep up with overall demand but to offer the variety Dragonmead faithfuls expect, says Larry Channel, a founding member of the microbrewery, which began in 1997.

“Having the variety system in place and producing again will allow us to once again offer over 40 different styles of beer on tap at our taproom here in Warren,” says Jennifer Locher, pub manager for Dragonmead. “The variety will be in place in time for the holidays.”

The latest expansion follows the addition last year of a 20-barrel brew house. This year the company is introducing a seasonal line of products in both bottles and draught: Oktoberfest, Devil’s Knight Pumpkin Ale, Jul Øl, a Norwegian Spiced Christmas Ale and St. Nicole’s Weizenbock. Sin Eater, a high-gravity Dark Belgian Ale, is soon to be released in bottles as a year-round product. Sin Eater is currently available in the Tap Room in Warren.

Source: Larry Channel, founding member of Dragonmead Microbrewery
Writer: Kim North Shine

Construction starts in Dearborn for state's first Artspace community

AConstruction on City Hall Artspace Lofts, a live, work & sell artists community in Dearborn, will begin this month. The sale of the property, the former Dearborn City Hall, will be complete this week after closing.

Artspace is a national organization that builds residential-retail community, art-based developments around the country. The Dearborn Artspace is the first in Michigan. Supporters of the project, from city officials to private developers, see it as a positive economic development locally. And they see it potentially as a regional draw for art-seekers and artists from any artistic genre to hone and sell the things they make or services they offer.

The nearly $17 million development at 13615 Michigan Ave. will include about 45 residential lofts with commercial spaces and public spaces -- indoors and out.

Painters, dancers, and furniture makers could set up shop or home at City Hall Artspace Lofts. Artspace's motto is "Building better communities through the arts."

The Monahan Company is the general contractor on the project and the first phase of construction will include the demolition this month of the parking garage behind the old City Hall. Dearborn's city offices have been consolidated in a building down the street from the older, more historic city hall. Construction will be fully underway in January, says Heidi Kurtze, vice president of property development for the Minneapolis-based Artspace. During construction there will be information sessions and meetings to inform artists and commercial retailers about the project, she says.

"Artspace is thrilled to be working in Dearborn and converting the iconic City Hall into a thriving creative center for the arts," says Kurtze.

Source: Heidi Kurtze, vice president of property development, Artspace
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dye & Dash express haircolor salon opens in Troy

The owners of two successful metro Detroit hair salons are the creators of a new specialized salon that's dedicated to quick and affordable hair coloring.

Dye & Dash opened Dec. 2 at 3296 Rochester Road in Troy. Industry veterans Tomy Lulgjuraj and George and Johnny Nikollaj, co-owners of 6 Salon in Birmingham and Royal Oak, partnered with longtime employee Constance Abro to oversee a trained, experienced staff that specializes in matching, formulating and applying hair color.

With the tagline, "We Dye, You Dry," the 2,000-square-foot salon includes a blow-dry bar where customers can use blow dryers, flat irons, hairbrushes and hair products at no extra charge after a color. Dye & Dash is likely the first salon of its kind in metro Detroit, and the concept has taken root in other states.

Dye & Dash offers color for men and women with services such as touch-ups (the Take Root service is $30), highlights (the Bombshell's full head of foils is $65, and the Lucky 7 with seven foils is $30), Bump the Base for $30 and low lights for $5. A sweet treat conditioning is $15.  

“Two things inspired us to create the Dye & Dash concept, with the first being the continued demand for salon service segmentation,” says Abro, a co-owner and manager of Dye & Dash.  “Not everyone has the need, time, desire or budget for a full-service salon experience every time, and we understand that."

The color salon is the latest evolution of beauty salons, he says.

"First came blow-out bars, then eyebrow bars, and we see color bars as the next logical step…,"he says.

The owners also see potential to attract the at-home colorers.

It is "our mission to get both men and women to move away from the pitfalls of home hair coloring,” Abro says. “There are endless reasons why hair coloring should be left to professionals. Hopefully by lowering the cost barrier to color treatments, we can convince some DIY hair dye enthusiasts to see what a difference a salon can make.”

Source: Monica Cheick, PublicCityPR
Writer: Kim North Shine

ShareSpace Rochester revives downtown co-working spot

Plans for a co-working space in downtown Rochester are back on after the investor/owner's decision to return to full-time living in Rochester.

Doug Van Slembrouck, founder of ShareSpace Rochester and owner of digital strategy company Red Pawn Creative, plans to open the shared work space, which would be outfitted with desks, WIFI, conference tables, and other office amenities, at 150 S. Elizabeth St., just a few feet away from the Clinton River Trail and directly behind Rochester Play, an indoor activity center for children and families.

For a fee, ShareSpace will give independents, freelancers, and office-less employees all the perks of an office, including meeting space, people to talk to, and no coffee shop or home office distractions.

"It's perfect for access to downtown, a brief stretch of the legs or bike ride, and great if you need to parent and work at the same time. We're now accepting memberships and visitors," Van Slembrouck says.

The plan was put on hold after Van Slembrouck's work had him commuting to Chicago throughout the week, and "I quickly realized that ShareSpace would require significantly much more attention."

In addition, a Kickstarter fundraising campaign for ShareSpace fell short. Projects that fail to meet their fundraising goal get no money.

"We did learn the community of freelance and mobile professionals in the greater-Rochester area is quite large," he says. "The supporters of our campaign were so interested in bringing co-working to the area that they still offered their original donations, essentially prepaid two-month memberships, regardless of the overall Kickstarter results. In the end however, I didn't feel comfortable accepting funds if I couldn't be there full-time to be involved in the day-to-day operations."

He says he's excited to make it work this time. His own company, Red Pawn Creative, will have its office at ShareSpace.

"I believe Oakland County needs a place for people with the flexibility to work anywhere, anytime to call home."

Source: Doug Van Slembrouck, founder, ShareSpace Rochester
Writer: Kim North Shine

Emagine Entertainment to open luxury movie theater in Macomb Co.

Troy-based Emagine Entertainment is opening its first movie theater in Macomb County in December, bringing movie-goers a new upscale and luxurious experience that comes with amenities galore.

The opening of a theater on 23 Mile Road near Hayes in Macomb Township will bring to eight the company's number of metro Detroit theaters. A theater is also in the works for downtown Birmingham.

The new Emagine Macomb is being built inside a closed Kroger grocery store that will be transformed into nine theaters, a restaurant and bar with onyx countertop and seating areas with sofas, high-top tables, chairs and stone fireplaces for a living-room feel.

When it opens Dec. 19, visitors will find full-service and comfort amenities not found in older theaters.

There will be 100-percent reserved seating in power recliners and service by a chef from the Ironwood Grill in Plymouth. A full-service bar, a self-serve soda fountain and dessert bar, and gourmet popcorn healthy snacks for kids will be part of the theater. It will have nine auditoriums with floor-to-ceiling screens and seating that provides a good view from any spot.

Source: Dawn Kelly, spokesperson, Emagine Entertainment
Writer: Kim North Shine

Royal Oak food scene adds reopened creperie and celeb chef burgers

A steady flow of restaurant openings is continuing in Royal Oak with the re-opening of a creperie and the arrival of Iron Chef Michael Symon's B Spot Burgers last week.

The Royal B Spot, which advertises Burgers Brats Beer on its black awning at 310 S. Main Street, is the second metro Detroit location in the string of restaurants Symon originally started in Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Symon was perhaps the first big name to gamble on a restaurant and Detroit's comeback when he opened his high-end restaurant, Roast, at the Book Cadillac Hotel in 2008.

The Royal Oak B Spot joins a Rochester Hills location that opened in May at the Village of Rochester Hills, and Symon, a Food Network chef, plans another B Spot at Partridge Creek shopping center in Clinton Township.

B Spot Burgers are known for creative and unusual burger toppings and combos or just regular cheeseburgers and milkshakes.

On the less meaty side of the restaurant scene in downtown Royal Oak is the re-opening of a creperie.

The Crepe Bistro Lounge opened last week at 317 South Washington in the spot where What Crepe once operated. The partners in What Crepe stayed on. Customers looking for the crepes that come in sweet and savory varieties and a daily special with fresh ingredient combos are coming back.

Source: The Crepe, Michael Symon Restaurants and Royal Oak DDA
Writer: Kim North Shine

Small Favors opening specialty shop in Grosse Pointe's Village

Grosse Pointe's Village business district is getting another tenant in a specialty gift shop, Small Favors, an arrival that will almost completely fill the three-block area along Kercheval Avenue.

A year ago the stretch that is considered the Grosse Pointes's downtown area was pocked by numerous vacant storefronts.

"The Village is on the cusp of a rebirth, and it's so exciting to be a part of it," says Kasey Malley, who co-owns Small Favors with Betsy Enders. Small Favors started in the basement of Malley's home in 2003, mostly selling specialty party favors. Within a few years the business had moved into a warehouse-type building with room to assemble party supplies and corporate gift baskets and such. Five years ago they opened a retail gift shop on Mack Avenue.

Earlier this year, they decided to move from their approximately 500-square-foot square foot store to a 1,500-square-foot space in the same block of Kercheval where a Borders bookstore and Ace Hardware once operated. Now there is a recently opened massage business, a dance studio, a Calico Corners fabric store and a shoe store, The Shoe Tree. St.John Medical center offices and a Scott Shuptrine furniture store are on the way.

"We didn't do as well as we could have on Mack. We had limited parking on the street and no parking lot," Malley says. "People would go out of their way to come to us. They're loyal, but there just was not enough traffic."

A build-out of the new Small Favors space is underway and will have "a great look with an industrial feel" with an open ceiling, exposed duct work and polished concrete floors, says Malley.

Opening day is expected to come in February. The current location remains open with holiday merchandise already out. While the new store, which is near the city's Santa's Village, is under construction there will be holiday pop-up shops selling Small Favors favorites. Other local Grosse Pointe business owners such as Ethel's Edibles's Jill Bommarito, and belt, belt buckle and specialty monogrammed item designer Kristen Henchel will join the pop-ups.

Small Favors is stocked with carefully selected merchandise found mostly by Enders and Malley on their annual trips to America's Mart in Atlanta. There they seek out new businesses and products that are unique. "We don't want anything you'll find in Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond…We don't want mass market.We're trying to keep that boutique-y small town, smaller feel," Malley says.

Small Favors regulars also come for the selection of favorite preppy brands such as Scout, high-quality candles and body products and unusual toys.

The move to the Village takes Malley back to the days "of what the Village used to be. It was small, independent businesses. That's what we've been missing. People want to go to the Village and shop around, get a coffee and stroll in and out. I think we're getting back to that and it's an exciting time."

Blaze-Thru comic book store opens in downtown Plymouth

Downtown Plymouth will be attracting a new kind of customer with the opening of Blaze-Thru Comics.

The store at 470 Forest Ave. opens Nov. 21 and with it will come fans who see the owner, Josh Bonno, as one of the state's most knowledgeable comic book purveyors and the store, as one Facebook fan put it, as "a cathedral of comics."

Blaze-Thru gives comic book lovers, whether seeking work of national artist or independents, another option in metro Detroit, Michigan and even the Midwest region.

Warp 9 opened in downtown Clawson earlier this month and Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, a thriving business known across the state, moved to a larger location at 13936 Michigan Avenue in downtown Dearborn, along with its building neighbor, Stormy Records.

The comic book stores are more than places to buy comic books and related paraphernalia. They're also the site of comic festivals, book signings, classes and general celebration of the art of comics.

Source: Blaze-Thru
Writer: Kim North Shine

Fraser Bicycle opening new store in Canton

Hopes of opening a second Fraser Bicycle store have percolated for at least two years. But because the business is so much more than a showroom for bikes, finding the right staffing was crucial.

With that detail squared away -- mainly a manager who is a cycling pro and enthusiastic about the sport and anyone who wants to ride -- the 47-year-old business is opening its second store, this one in Canton. Owner Paul Rogers purchased the business in 1987.

The Canton location of Fraser Bicycle will be in a freestanding building at 6111 North Canton Center Road, north of Ford Road, a couple of miles away from IKEA. It will be closer to customers who come from the west. Fraser Bicycle draws cyclists from across the state and from surrounding Midwestern states and Canada.

No exact opening date has been set, but the manager of the Fraser location, Ron Schmid, says the target is December.

A major renovation of the 10,777-square-foot store is underway. Like the location in Fraser, a cycling lab will be part of the layout. The lab has training bikes, software, monitors and more that simulate riding conditions and provide important information.

The service side of the business will also play a big role in the Canton store.

"More and more the survival of independent bike shops depends on service," Schmid says. "The big box stores were killing us when it came to sales. So we have to differentiate ourselves with our service."

The new store, as does the Fraser location, will also be the site of clinics, workshops and seminars, such as one with a cardiologist next week.

There will be a showroom offering most brands found in Fraser. The Canton store will have a new feature that's being kept secret.

"It's gonna be really cool," says Schmid. "We are so excited."

Source: Ron Schmid, writer, Fraser Bicycle
Writer: Kim North Shine

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
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