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Macomb-OU Incubator steers next-level dollars to two start-ups

An advanced technology developer working to improve fuel efficiency and emissions and a biotech start-up that's designed a natural supplement to treat diabetes and pre-diabetes are receiving grants to help bring their products to market.

The awards of $50,000 to Nostrum Energy LLC and $36,635 to Omni One LLC and its DiabetainC supplement come from the Michigan Small Business Development Center's Business Accelerator Program through the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator.

The Sterling Heights-based incubator selected the two recipients based on their success to date and their sound business practice and potential.

"We look forward to watching these two well-positioned companies take it to the next level," says Julie Gustafson, executive director of the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator. "The BAF program, supported by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, is an important catalyst for business growth in the state."

The amount of awards allotted to the Sterling Heights-based business incubator for its clients make it the top recipient statewide of dollars from the Business Accelerator Fund to date. The incubator provides space, expertise and other services to high-tech businesses, academic innovators and research and development start-ups.

Source: Joan Carleton, spokesperson, Oakland University
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Royal Oak's Citizen Yoga expands to second location in Detroit

Less than a year since opening a yoga practice in a meticulously renovated space in downtown Royal Oak, Citizen Yoga is opening a studio in downtown Detroit.

The Detroit location is part of a Dan Gilbert-backed boost of Detroit. The owner of Bedrock Real Estate, Quicken Loans, the Cleveland Cavs and an all-around doer for Detroit's revitalization is behind the Z, a retail space that opened in January. Citizen Yoga will open in a 2,300-square-foot space at 1234 Library Street, next to NoJo Kicks and 7 Greens. An anchor tenant of the Z, across the street, is 24,000-square-foot Punch Bowl Social.

The 535,000-square-foot Z building covers an area from the corner of Broadway and East Grand River to the corner of Gratiot and Library.

Citizen Yoga Detroit is scheduled to open in the fall.

The Detroit location fits with Citizen Yoga owner Kacee Must's desire to do good for the community. Being a part of a retail return to downtown Detroit fits with her philanthropic side. It was always a part of her plan since opening Citizen Yoga on Washington Ave. in downtown Royal Oak last August.

While the Detroit opening is exciting, Citizen Yoga has also aligned itself with Brian Lively, a local master of "customer cultivation," whose success at Moosejaw, J. Crew, Gap, and other big names has won him many admirers.

Citizen Yoga was opened in honor of Must's late sister, Miya, with the plan to  share with her clients the knowledge she gained while traveling to India.

Her grand opening was a fundraiser for the charity, Born and Raised in Detroit, an organization committed to creating enriching and entertaining events for Detroiters.

She also hopes to use Citizen Yoga to spread the word of suicide prevention in honor of her sister.

Source: Kacee Must, Citizen Yoga
Writer: Kim North Shine

Detroit BBQ & ice cream maker Treat Dreams team up in Ferndale

Downtown Ferndale's Treat Dreams is pulling in customers not for its creative and creamy ice creams, but for barbecue from Detroit.

The two small businesses are in a partnership that has Detroit BBQ Company setting up sell-out popups inside Treat Dreams.

Detroit BBQ sets out regularly from its home base on St. Aubin in Detroit to locations around metro Detroit.

Its success at Treat Dreams brought the company back for a return engagement last week and made the barbecue caterer turned pop-up restaurant into yet another metro Detroit food biz to see the benefit of sharing space and fan bases.

Source: Detroit BBQ Company & Treat Dreams
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Brewpub in the works for Michigan Ave. in Dearborn

A plan is brewing to turn a vacant storefront on Michigan Avenue in West Dearborn into a microbrewer.

Dearborn Brewing is starting renovations after months of approvals and paperwork, and after receiving brewing certification using funds from a recent completion of a Kickstarter campaign. It exceeded its fundraising expectation of $25,000 by $243, thanks to supporters, friends, family and strangers.

Founder John Rucinski wants to open the city's first brewpub and to support a city he loves.

"A lot of people have asked 'Why Dearborn?' Well, there are couple of really good reasons for it. I’m from Dearborn. I live here. I went to school here, and I believe it’s a good fit with the area," he says. "Plus, the water here is great for brewing. And that’s a big plus. And so is the huge response we've gotten from local residents who are excited for Dearborn to finally be getting a brewery."

If all goes as planned, Dearborn Brewing will open late summer. The brewing operation will be onsite as will a tap room and growler sales. The larger plan is to distribute Dearborn Brewing beer to local bars and restaurants.

Source: John Rucinski, founder, Dearborn Brewing
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Construction to start this fall on Dearborn's City Hall Artspace Lofts

With most, if not all, approvals, funding sources and other demands squared away, construction on the City Hall Artspace Lofts in Dearborn can begin in the fall. Hopes are, when complete, a live-work-display-sell-perform campus will host an artists' community that has the potential to paint a rosy economic picture for the city -- if not the Metro Detroit region.

The project, which will renovate historic Dearborn City Hall into living spaces, workspaces, retail spaces, galleries and more, recently won a $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation's Supporting Diverse Art Spaces initiative. City Hall operations will move down the street near other city offices in September or October, says Melissa Kania, of the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority.

The East Dearborn DDA and the city of Dearborn are working with Minnesota-based Artspace to renovate the old city offices into an arts campus that could be an economic stimulant for the city and the region and build on Metro Detroit's history of invention and innovation.

The plan calls for 46 affordable live/work spaces for artists and their families, work studios, co-working spaces for entrepreneurs and artists, a live/work unit for an artist-in-residency program, and galleries spread out on the city hall campus off Michigan Avenue.

In similar partnerships around the country, Artspace has developed 35 affordable artists' communities, and another 12 are in mid-development. The projects add up to about $600,000 in investment in local communities. The Dearborn development is estimated to cost $15.7 million.

Neumann/Smith Architecture and Ghafari Associates have drawn up design plans for Dearborn City Hall Artspace Lofts. They feature high ceilings, tall windows and open floor plans that play off the historic style of the building.

A public meeting to learn more about the Artspace Lofts is planned for Wednesday, June 18, in Dearborn City Council chambers.

Source: East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Grosse Pointe Park Market Square plants seed for Kercheval Ave re-do

The demolition of a liquor store in Grosse Pointe Park has made way for what will become a more permanent space for a market that attracts crowds looking for farm and hand-made goods each spring, summer and fall.

The West Park Farmers Market that comes seasonally each year to Kercheval Avenue is a success on its own, says market manager Jennifer Meldrum, but the new Market Square, which is being built about two blocks away at Kercheval and Wayburn, will give favorite vendors more permanent spots to do business.

"Our hope is to, along with the popular Saturday Market, have market items available during the week for everyone’s shopping convenience," says Meldrum.

The city's Department of Public Works has begun construction on market stalls that will line the street. Plans call for the widening of Kercheval, new landscaping and the addition of an island in the roadway that will create a roundabout for car and pedestrian traffic.

The demolition of Art's Party Store made room for additional parking in a part of the city that's experiencing a commercial renaissance as new restaurants such as Atwater Brewery and Cabbage Patch Cafe join neighborhood staples such as Belding Cleaners, Sprout House and Pointe Hardware & Lumber Hardware.

"Along with fruit and vegetable stalls, the market will feature organic produce, flower vendors and specialty items including meats, cheeses, flavored olive oils and barbecue dinners made to order," Meldrum says. "While many of our vendors will be using the new market stalls, we still plan on having the market umbrellas set up along Kercheval for gifts and seasonal items."

Market Square is the latest piece in a plan in large part driven by the philanthropic and civic-minded Cotton family to turn Kercheval Avenue at the Detroit border into a walkable promenade and magnet for locals to find quality food and shopping and public gathering spaces.

The 2014 market season runs May 24-Dec. 6.

Source: Jennifer Meldrum, market manager, Grosse Pointe Park
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

M-Brew gives customers a ride through Michigan's food, drink, vibe

An old VFW hall in downtown Ferndale is on its way to becoming home to a catering biz, event space and storefront and cafe centered around Michigan made goods, from to-go growlers of craft beer to food and drink from dozens of cities around the state.

M-Brew, the brainchild of Dean Bach, owner of Ferndale icon Dino's Lounge, will likely open in early July inside the renovated hall that is part bungalow-style house with a building added to the back.

It's located at 177 Vester Street, next door to nightlife designation and award-winning spirit maker Valentine Distilling. Valentine was started by a like-minded entrepreneur who left New York for a return to Michigan with the dream of building a craft business that could lift up the local economy.

Bach bought the VFW hall two years ago and in that time has come up with a multifaceted business plan that he hopes will fill the Michigan-influenced renovated house.

The building behind the house is a 2,000-square-foot kitchen and home base to Bach's Dino's Catering and Mindful Catering. The latter offers healthy foods to school lunch programs.

The basement of the house will be known simply as The Basement, Bach says, and it's where parties and special events can be held. Dart boards, paneling and all-around basement decor that came with the house will be the party backdrop.

The house is where much of the woodwork and craftsmanship is on display. It will be a "little Michigan market," Bach says. Michigan-made coffee will be brewed and 30 Michigan craft beers will be on draught for takeaway in growlers. There will also be locally- and Michigan-made products -- salsa, chips, pickles, etc. -- for sale, and cold and hot prepared foods will be made in the kitchen or purchased from Michigan entrepreneurs for takeaway or eat-in.

The house was gutted and replaced with pine walls and ceilings, wood floors, a new fireplace and repurposed Douglas fir countertops and tabletops, says Bach.

"The concept is geared around craft beer carryout," Bach says.

However, a large wraparound porch that's been added to the front of the house and gives off a Mackinac Island vibe is the "perfect place to stay and enjoy a pint or a cup of coffee."

Bach expects opening day to come around the Fourth of July. A Ferndale Downtown Development Authority event is planned for June 19.

Bach's head is churning with ideas and things to come at M-Brew, even before opening day. A big one, he says, is former Red Wing Darren McCarty's private-label root beer that will be released at an event.

"This is such an exciting time," Bach says. "It's tiring and so much work, but it's so exciting for me and and my wife."

Source: Dean Bach, owner, Dino's Lounge and M-Brew
Writer: Kim North Shine

Plymouth Yoga Room expands into loft studio

After five years in the business based on "Namaste," the Plymouth Yoga Room is expanding into a loft studio above the yoga room that has run out of space.

Owners Brent and Sheri Rieli have developed a loyal yoga community that packed the studio at 474 Forest. The expansion doubles the space of Plymouth Yoga Room and lets the Rielis hold multiple classes at once and add to class offerings.

"Our new room is more spacious to accommodate more students, considering our yoga community is constantly growing," says Jen Brown, an instructor at Plymouth Yoga Room.

Source: Jen Brown, Plymouth Yoga Room
Writer: Kim North Shine

Salon & Spa at Macomb Place comes to downtown Mt. Clemens

Downtown Mount Clemens has a new salon and spa that wants to welcome the usual clientele for hair, body and nail treatments but also be a place for parties and group outings.

Salon & Spa at Macomb Place opened last month at 65 Macomb Place, Studio C, and celebrated with a grand opening this week.

The owners and stylists see their specialty as party hostesses and want Salon & Spa to be a destination for bachelorette parties, princess parties, birthday parties, even company outings.

Source: Salon & Spa at Macomb Place
Writer: Kim North Shine

Nature's Playhouse opens playspace and wellness center in Ferndale

Two moms have created what they see as a dream place for their own children and the community at large to come and play and learn.

Michelle McEvoy and Lisa Ball describe their recently opened Nature's Playhouse in downtown Ferndale as "an all-natural family enrichment center." Both know the craving to find a redeeming place to take their children, and what they wanted to build was a place that's good for children and their families.

Nature's Playhouse is located at 318 W. Nine Mile Road. The pair previously ran a smaller Nature' s Playhouse in the Hunter Community Center in Clawson.

Their mom-driven entrepreneurship grew out of desire to provide the entire family with enriching experiences in environmentally safe, conscious surroundings.

And while playhouse is in the business name, it's not just about kids running around having fun. Nature's Playhouse is a wellness center, a classroom, yoga studio and more.

Open playtime is a part of Nature's Playhouse. Families can drop in or buy a membership. And besides the play area of yesteryear, they will find toys made of wood and cloth and by hand. One rule: no phones. The idea is to be involved with the kids, and the surroundings are meant to be peaceful and calming.

Nature's Playhouse also has aligned itself with likeminded teachers, artists and crafters who will lead workshops and classes.  Classes in natural child-birth, prenatal, family and therapeutic yoga, workshops in belly painting, puppet making and much, more are on the menu.

Nature's Playhouse will also be home to several free support groups for breastfeeding, postpartum care, and baby-weaning, and host workshops and special events emphasizing family wellness. Handcrafted items made by Michigan families will be for sale.

Ball and McEvoy will teach as will other instructors, experts and specialists. McEvoy, a certified schoolteacher in Michigan and California, will be the lead instructor.

"One of the things I love the most about Nature's Playhouse is that the environment and the class offerings provide the opportunity for our kids to observe and participate with us while we do some things to take care of ourselves," says McEvoy, a University of Michigan graduate who has traveled the world and taught Kindergarten and fifth grade before becoming a mom.

Ball, a veteran entrepreneur and owner of Joseph K Publications, director of Clawson's Arts & Authors Festival, project coordinator for The Formation of Motherhood Project, and founder of the My Glass is Full consultancy, says the emphasis is actually on keeping moms in shape emotionally and physically so they can be the best they can be.

‘Women are still the heart of families today, which is why our programs focus on family wellness through physical health, enriching classes to help bond with your child and free support groups to help women on their new journey through motherhood.”

Source: Lisa Ball & Michelle McEvoy, owners, Nature's Playhouse
Writer: Kim North Shine

Giuseppe's International Oils & Vinegars opens Grosse Pointe store

Stainless steel dispensers, ceramic decanters, and glass bottles make up much of the decor of Giuseppe's International Oils & Vinegars, but it's what's inside the containers that is the lifeblood of the business that has opened a second location in metro Detroit.

The first store, at Partridge Creek Mall in Clinton Township, has found enough success selling olive oils, aged vinegars and accessories that the owners decided to open a store in Grosse Pointe this week.

The newest Giuseppe's is located in the Village business district at 16841 Kercheval Avenue, on the second floor of the Dawood Building. The second floor retail location is a rarity for the Village, but may become more common as rules on building uses ease up and become more welcoming to businesses.

Besides its olive oils in flavored, regional, organic and specialty varieties dispensed from stainless steel canisters, and its vinegars imported from Modena, Italy that come in dark and white balsamic and wine varieties, Giuseppe's sells herbs and spices, olive oil skin products, handmade ceramic decanters and dishes, and other home products.

Giuseppe's also works with chefs who visit the store to share food and recipes that use oils, vinegars and other spices, including many that focus on health benefits.

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

Peace Pedalers offers pedi-cab rides in downtown Plymouth

There's a new way to get around downtown Plymouth. Peace Pedalars, a pedicab business started by Diane and Andy Webster, is the latest and most energy efficient way to get to and fro.

The first rides in the white and black tricycle cabs that come with convertible covers started on St. Patrick's Day weekend. In recent weeks as weather has started to warm, families are taking rides around the square, late night crowds are getting from restaurant to bar or to their cars with a ride on the leather seat of the pedicab.

Besides providing a taxi service, Peace Pedalers is also an advertising service. The Websters, who completed a special drivers' training and expect other pedicab drivers to do the same, want it to be a regular part of the downtown Plymouth scene, and get to know locals as they show them around town.

Source: Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Birmingham Wine retailer opens in downtown Birmingham

Parking, the puzzler for so many downtowns, has sent one Ferndale business owner to downtown Birmingham to run his wine business.

Ed Bosse, the owner of the now-closed Winezilla in downtown Ferndale, has reopened as Birmingham Wine in a downtown he sees as barrier-free when it comes to parking for his customers.

"I feel the meter stations are a great disservice to retailers, landlords and in the end the citizens," Bosse says. "I wasn't fully aware of how quickly and drastically it had affected our business until I looked at sales figures," he says. Winezilla was in business about 18 months.

Bosse's wine business is focused on making wine accessible to all by offering affordable, quality wines and a free wine education to his customers. He prides himself on stocking an eclectic mix of wines and seeks out chemical-free, organic and rare finds. He also sells higher-priced wines for those looking for rare varietals.

Birmingham Wine is located in the city's Market area at 588 North Old Woodward and offers plentiful, easy-to-use parking. He says he hopes Ferndale will rethink the system before other retailers follows in his footsteps.

Source: Ed Bosse, owner, Birmingham Wine
Writer: Kim North Shine

The Rendezvous With Tea opens in Grosse Pointe Woods

Jars and jars of tea leaves and all sorts of tea accoutrements make up the aromatic and colorful decor and merchandise at The Rendezvous With Tea in Grosse Pointe Woods.

The store opened several weeks ago on busy Mack Avenue near Vernier (8 Mile  Raod) and is seeing locals and destination shoppers looking for a taste of teas from around the world and closer to home.

The tea-loving owner, Naszreen Gibson, sells nearly 200 varieties of loose teas mostly from Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and the Far East and more then 50 flavors of tea bags in sachets, pyramids and cloth bags. Tea pots and tea ware made of porcelain, cast iron, stainless steal and ceramic are also available.

One thing not for sale is the owner's signed copy of the New Tea Lovers' Treasury. Author and tea authority James Norwood Pratt visited The Rendezvous With Tea recently and says the shop is "a dream come true brought to Grosse Pointe Woods by a tea visionary to challenge and inspire any seeker of excellence. Be wise and stay healthy: Let Naszreen make you love tea too."

Source: Naszreen Gibson, owner, The Rendezvous With Tea
Writer: Kim North Shine

Kercheval Dance studio to open in Grosse Pointe's Village



East siders will have a new dance studio to add to their repertoire when Kercheval Dance opens in Grosse Pointe's Village business district this summer.

Tracy Halso Gap and her husband, Adam Gap, will own and operate the business, which is being renovated inside a space in the block-long building that previously housed a Borders bookstore and an Ace Hardware. Their 3,500-square-foot space will come with two studios -- one with a stage, high ceilings (The husband-wife dance partners know the pitfalls of dance spaces with low ones). The studio will also be built with special shock-absorbing, bone-protecting sprung floors like the ones used on Dancing With the Stars, professional lighting and sound systems, and a large lobby.

Kercheval Dance will be next door to the offices of St. John Health System, which leased the space for the studio and has plans to bring in other tenants. The studio faces a public parking lot behind the building, which fronts Kercheval Avenue. Its entrance is on the alley for easy drop-off and pick-up, and, if needed, convenient access to nearby businesses, says Tracy Halso Gap.

The couple bring with them years of experience in performance dance, dance instruction and competition dance coaching. They've lived and worked in cities around the country.

After graduating from Oklahoma City University, which specializes in dance and musical theater majors, Gap, a Grosse Pointe native and University Liggett graduate, "bounced around like a gypsy," including years spent in New York studying dance and auditioning. That was followed by work as a dancer at theme parks in Virginia, where she and her husband were dance partners, and in Pennsylvania and at Disney World before moving to Boston. There they led a master's program and directed a competition dance team. Adam Gap also danced for Royal Caribbean International, the Bellagio in Las Vegas and the American Spirit Dance Company. During their time in Boston, he received his business degree.

"After living in so many places we really found out what we wanted to do. It really gave us a taste of what's out there. And we both knew we have a mutual love for children and dance," she says.

They also have a love for Grosse Pointe, she says, and after they moved back from Boston last summer, they started looking for a studio location.

"There were a lot of times we contemplated starting a dance school out there. It could be great. Boston is a big supporter of the arts,"  she says. "But the feel of the community in Grosse Pointe is so special and unique… Parents really research what their kids are involved in, and they want high quality. We hope we produce a high quality dance education and a fun place to study for children and the parents as well."

The Gaps will lead classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical and contemporary dance to students as young as age two. Adults will be offered the same courses plus fitness fusion, a workout for dancers or non-dancers, and ballroom dance. Advanced ballerinas will find pointe classes, and there will be special classes in tumbling and stretching and leaps and turns to build on gymnastics' influence on dance.

Initially, the Gaps will teach all classes. As enrollment builds they will hire other instructors and expand courses. She says their dance school will be set apart by the quality of the studio construction and its performance space as well as its syllabus-guided instruction that lets students and parents track progress, milestones, set goals, etc.

"We want children to develop and learn and grow with us," she says. "We are just so excited to be here, in the Village and to be a part of bringing back this part of the Village that has been open and empty for so long. We are so grateful for this opportunity."

Check out this video of O'Mara Sprung Floors, the Flint company that's building the studio floors, and this one of the Gaps dancing.

Source: Tracy Halso Gap
Writer: Kim North Shine
 
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