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Barre workout & yoga unite in new Grosse Pointe Park studio

In just a few months' time a new yoga and barre studio in Grosse Pointe Park has built a strong following of fitness-focused customers looking for a new place and way to work out.

Above the Barre X at 15229 Kercheval Avenue in Grosse Pointe Park looks like a dance studio with a ballet barre, mirrors and wood floors in a big open space. Lightburst chandeliers, sliding, floor-to-ceiling doors and glistening floors give the studio a contemporary, upscale feel.

It's where co-owners Suzette Wilson and Christy Wood and a staff of nine instructors teach yoga, Pilates and Barre X, a workout that challenges the muscles, especially the smaller ones, through movements of constant contraction and tension. Movements are made in shorts bursts and holds. Shaking, quivering muscles are the norm. Barre has become go-to workout in larger cities and is gaining popularity locally.

Wood, who for years taught Pilates and yoga, was a partner in a studio in Grosse Pointe Woods and also taught in St. Clair Shores at Wilson's Real Results Training. About two years ago they learned about barre and introduced it to a handful of clients.

"We actually started doing the classes in another location during construction in January or February," Wood says. "We just wanted to get interest up. We started with one barre. We kept adding. I got trained. It took me a year to train the others. We knew people were ready for it."

Wood says barre originated in London and was a workout for the rich and famous. It migrated to the U.S. and by the '70s was an exclusive workout for women living on the Upper East Side of New York. Working on a barre in a nondescript gym, they saw amazing, quick results. Barre began to spread, and now barre studios are opening regularly, especially on the East Coast.

Wood has traveled to many cities learning about barre and was amazed by how it strengthened her body and her mindset, even as a longtime Pilates and yoga instructor.

"After traveling and seeing how happy people were with barre I'm not at all surprised to see the response we've had here," she says. "It's amazing. It's almost like people are on a high after a barre class.

"For me the best part is seeing the results, and people do see the results," she says. "What's beautiful about it is it allows them to look outside themselves and think about others, to think less about how they look or how their body feels."

More classes are being added, including a teen barre class on Thursdays, and special events such as Bring Your Man to the Barre are being planned.

"The more people see what a hard workout this is and how much they get out of it," Wood says, "they are hooked."

Source: Christy Wood, co-owner, Above the Barre X
Writer: Kim North Shine

Wanderlust Boutique brings affordable Euro fashion to Rochester

The women behind the new Wanderlust Boutique in downtown Rochester are bringing their love for European fashion to locals.

Ally and Denise Martin say they've figured out a way to make Euro style affordable by scouring hundreds of vendors, looking not only for good prices but original styles. Besides casual clothing, the store sells accessories such as jewelry, watches, belts and shoes.

Wanderlust opened Oct. 11 in a redone store painted in aqua blue mixed with exposed brick walls.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce is planned for Nov. 1.

Source: Ally Martin, co-owner, Wanderlust Boutique
Writer: Kim North Shine

C.A.Y.A Smokehouse Grill opens in Wolverine Lake

There is a lot to go on about with the C.A.Y.A Smokehouse Grill in Wolverine Lake, and customers are coming, from the nearby lake crowd to destination diners, to see what's it's all about.

There is the food -- a specially smoked and creative menu made up of locally sourced ingredients from farms within 100 miles and never treated with chemicals or artificial ingredients. For example, the pork is pink because it comes from farms that don't pump it up with solutions.

There is the building itself, a mix of rustic and industrial with copper, barn wood, iron, exposed cement-brick walls, exposed ceilings and an eye-catching, sleek black onyx bar. The bar serves specialty drinks and has six Michigan craft beers on tap.

Jeff Rose, co-owner and chef, comes from two of metro Detroit's top restaurants: Michael Symon's Roast in Detroit and Toast in Birmingham. Rose co-owns C.A.Y.A with Rachel Mandell. They have 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry. Rose has also manned kitchens at Tribute, Big Rock Chophouse and Iridescence.

Rose broke away to introduce his own restaurant concept -- a smokehouse bistro -- a casual restaurant that shows off what can be done with a smoker. Many of C.A.Y.A's meats are smoked for 10-14 hours over hickory, maple, oak, apple and cherry woods until they are tender. They emerge with a caramelized outside and are served by chefs specializing in sides and desserts.

"It's important for us to be able to provide our guests with not only a great dining experience," Rose says,"but also offer the highest quality and freshest food available."

There's room at the grill for 100 to eat inside and 60 on the covered patio. The restaurant is located at 1403 Commerce Road at Pontiac Trail.

Source: Jeff Rose, co-owner, C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill and Jaclyn Robinson, spokesperson
Writer: Kim North Shine

Atwater Brewery turns Grosse Pointe Park church into beer hall

Come spring, Atwater Brewery will be brewing and serving its Detroit-born suds from a closed Grosse Pointe Park church that's being converted into a beer hall-style restaurant and outdoor biergarten.

The impending opening of Atwater in the Park will be celebrated at the just-completed biergarten at 1175 Lakepointe off of Kercheval Avenue this Friday, when Atwater hosts the GPP version of its annual Bloktoberfest with German beer, food and music by the Polish Muslims.

The renovations on the new brewpub are happening now at the church which fronts Kercheval and is a few blocks from the Detroit border at Alter Road. A sign at the construction site reads: Born in Detroit. Brewed in the Park.

Atwater's Detroit brewery in Rivertown will remain in operation. Atwater owner Mark Rieth is a Grosse Pointe Park resident who is excited to be part of a the revitalization of the Park's business district, led in large part by the local Cotton family, which has bought property and brought in business owners who can attract crowds and offer quality and creativity.

Rieth has said the church pews and other parts of the church will be re-used in the redesign. At 7,000 square feet it's a big space to re-do, but beer tanks take up a lot of room and Atwater has many fans, especially locally.

The beer hall will be in the basement.  On the main floor, the pews will be used as bench seating and there will be a circular bar. There will be separate rooms for seating and a merchandise area for beer and beer supplies.

Outside, long tables and other changes will make customers feel "just like you're in Munich," Rieth says.

There will be 40 beers on tap, and Atwater is currently hiring staff.

Atwater opened in March of 1997 in a 1919 factory warehouse on the Detroit riverfront and prides itself on carrying on the history of Detroit breweries and using malt and hops from Germany to turn out traditional German lagers.

Atwater previously ran a restaurant in Detroit and then converted it to brewing only. Recently, a tap room opened in Detroit, where 14 beers are on tap. The brewery also has tours and event space.

Atwater's annual Bloktoberfest at its Detroit facility this weekend from 4 p.m. to close at the tap room at 237 Joseph Campau St.

Source: Atwater in the Park
Writer: Kim North Shine

ROUGE MakeUp and Nail Salon expands in downtown Ferndale

The little red make-up and nail salon in Ferndale that built a customer base attracted to organic and vegan products and a creative staff is now a bigger space, still red in keeping with the name.

ROUGE MakeUp and Nail Studio expanded into a neighboring store on Woodward Avenue and into space about twice its original size two weeks ago.

Sisters Cheryl Salinas-Tucker, who worked as a make-up artist on shows and photo shoots in New York City and then traveled the country as an instructor for cosmetics lines, and Jeny Bulatovic, a manicurist who heads up a staff that has won Rouge Best Nail Salon honors for two years, opened Rouge in 2010.

The salon has made a name for itself by offering personal service, helping customers through skin and nail disasters, and running a business that's fun and welcoming.

They expanded their downtown Ferndale salon after they outgrew the first space in less two years.

Source: Jeny Bulatovic, co-owner, Rouge MakeUp and Nail Salon
Writer: Kim North Shine

Northvillle's Salvaged store does vintage furniture and home goods

A group of friends with a knack for spotting old furniture that's in need of a little TLC and an update have opened a store with their repurposed goods in downtown Northville.

Salvaged opened just over a month ago on the square at 133 N. Main St. in Suite 200.

Inside is home decor - furniture and accessories - in vintage, mid-century modern, industrial, shabby chic, electric, French provincial and French country styles.

The owners, two pairs of sisters, are pros at hunting far and wide for furniture that needs a little freshening to become a stylish centerpiece or an accent that's a conversation piece.

Source: Northville Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Boutique hotel moving in to downtown Wyandotte Sears store

The vacant Sears department store in downtown Wyandotte is on its way to becoming a boutique hotel.

The owners of The Hotel Sterling in Monroe plan to spend $2.5 million to renovate the inside and out of the three-story building on Biddle Avenue, keeping in tune with the historic, cosmopolitan style of this hotel in downtown Monroe, says Natalie Rankine, director of the Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority. The renovation began last month and will be completed in two phases. Opening day is expected in late 2014, she says.

The first phase will cover the exterior, the basement and the first and second floors of the building, turning them into 21 hotel suites, a lobby, business center, conference and banquet facility and hotel offices. The second phase will make over the third floor and add 12 suites as the market dictates.

City and state economic development officials see the hotel's potential to improve the business climate, increase commercial investment and create jobs. 

The Wyandotte DDA purchased the property in 2012 for $530,000 and sold it to The Hotel Sterling owners Ken and Rebecca Wickenheiser for $350,000. With donations from the Downriver Area Brownfield Consortium to help pay for property cleaning, the DDA will spend about $200,000 on the redevelopment.

"We are excited to embark upon this project with the Wickenheisers. Ken and Rebecca have an incredible knowledge of architectural design and understanding of historic preservation," says Rankine. "These traits combined with the great business model they've already developed for the Hotel Sterling Monroe will make this project a perfect fit for our downtown."

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. put in $445,000 toward the hotel to seal the deal with the hotel owners and bring investment and jobs to the city.

Rankine says construction will require 20 temporary jobs and running the hotel will create 5 permanent jobs.

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

Freakin' Unbelievable Burgers to open in Farmington Hills

Freakin' Unbelievable Burgers
, a Flint Township gourmet burger restaurant that has landed on best burger joint lists and been called one to watch in the fast-casual restaurant concept, is opening its first metro Detroit location in Farmington Hills in late November.

Founder and president Brent Skaggs, who operates two other separate restaurants besides the Flint Freakin' Unbelievable Burgers, says Farmington Hills was chosen for a foray into metro Detroit for a number of reasons.

"We are franchising the concept. We started that in July this year. We wanted to go into a metro market," says Skaggs, who opened the Flint Township store in 2012. "We felt like Detroit metro was a great place and as we started looking around we found that Farmington Hills had the traffic counts, the demographics and we just liked the feel of the city."

He is hoping to have a freakin' unbelievable experience by besting nearby national burger chains, including Five Guys and Smashburger, with his selection of Angus beef burgers that come with a selection of 43 toppings, served on a brioche bun.

"We definitely will have competition, but we are a Michigan-based company so we're excited," he says.

Freakin' Unbelievable Burgers is getting noticed nationally. It ranked 12th on fastcasual.com's Top 100 America's Top Movers & Shakers at the National Restaurant Association convention in Chicago, and industry publication, BurgerBusiness, called the restaurant one of the top new burger joints in 2012. The second Freakin' Unbelievable Burgers will move into a former Burger King on Orchard Lake Road and be renovated to fit the fast casual concept, an upscale version of fast food. Think Panera Bread, Skagg says, counter service in a sit-down arrangement.

"The materials we use in the booths are nicer; so is the type of lighting. It's really a place you can sit down, watch a game, get a cold beer, a glass of wine…There's china, real forks. There's no tipping," Skaggs says. "It's a place you can get a burger fast and to go if you want, or to stay and enjoy if you want."

Once opened, the restaurant will employ 20 full-time employees, Skaggs says, and 20-30 part-timers.

Source: Brent Skaggs, president and founder, Freakin Unbelievable Burgers
Writer: Kim North Shine

Grosse Pointe's El's Boutique and Village Palm swap storefronts

Two Grosse Pointe entrepreneurs, neighbors in the city's Village downtown district, have swapped stores, attempting to right-size their businesses by moving into spaces that better fit their sales.

El's Boutique, a teen and tween store selling girls' gifts, jewelry, accessories, room decor, and items for moms cut its floor space in half when it moved to the spot occupied by Village Palm, a four-year-old Lily Pulitzer Signature store and vendor of preppy brands such as Vineyard Vines and Vera Bradley.

The moves on Kercheval Avenue, the Village's main street, took place nearly three weeks ago and doubled Village Palm's space to about 2,000 square feet at 17110 Kercheval. El's swtiched to about 1,000 square feet next door.

"We've had a great response. I can't even tell you how perfectly it's working out," says Ellen Durand, owner of El's, which was formerly the Village Toy Co.

The new El's also has a party room in the basement for the older set, unlike its previous party room next door, which was ideal for 5- to 10-year-olds. The new party room can host later parties, has karaoke, a duct-tape crafting area and other tween-friendly activities.

Village Toy was a local institution for 25 years. It couldn't compete with big-box toy stores and online merchants, Durand says.  A few years ago it added the girls section for tweens and teens, and it became clear that toys would no longer be the family business, Durand says

"The market was going to tweens. We saw that. Everyone saw that," she says.

Village Palm, on the other hand, was busting out of the seams, finding an eager and loyal market for its pink and greens, plaid, floral and flamingo prints.

The goal of the right-sizing for El's and Village Palm, which doubled its space, is to put the businesses in their sweet spots, Durand says. Even if her business booms, she prefers the smaller space and thinks the swap is a mutually beneficial.

"The smaller store is more manageable, which I like," she says. "I think our stores complement each other. Our customers seem to shop at both, so being right next door works out very well."

Source: Ellen Durand, owner El's Boutique
Writer: Kim North Shine

Holy Cannoli's expands to OU campus

The reach of Holy Cannoli's family recipe for sweet-filled Italian pastry is expanding once again.

The downtown Rochester bakery that opened in 2010 first expanded to a second store in Berkley in April, then started selling its goods last week on the campus of Oakland University.

Traditional cannoli and cannoli chips will be sold at the coffee shop inside OU's Human Health Building on Squirrel and Walton roads.

Holy Cannoli's, which come in several flavors, are also on the menu at D'Amato's in downtown Royal Oak, and can be found at Eastern Market on Saturdays and the Bank of Antiques store in Washington Township.

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

Food Truck grants heat up business plans

Two metro Detroit food trucks are sharing in state economic development grants meant to support a burgeoning industry in Michigan.

The $77,775 in grants awarded by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which predicts food truck businesses will be a $2.7-billion industry by 2017, went to Southfield-based Detroit Pommes Frites and Plain and Fancy Food from Pontiac.

With matching grants from each winner, a total of $144,246 is being invested in the 10 food trucks.

The grants are part of the 2013 Mobile Cuisine Startup Program, which is designed to help new or growing businesses that "offer easily accessible and unique food options to patrons in public spaces and contribute to the local economy by working with other local businesses and farms. The intent of this program is to assist with community and economic development by increasing pedestrian traffic in downtowns and traditional commercial cores," according to the MEDC announcement of the winners.

MEDC president and CEO Michael Finney says "today's grants will help food entrepreneurs from around the state launch their business ideas, grow, and create jobs in Michigan."

Other winners included MI Fresh Start in Traverse City, The Organic Gypsy in Kalamazoo, Roaming Harvest in Interlochen, Dia De Los Tacos in Marquette, Taco Now in Flint and Pure F2T in East Lansing.

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

BoConcept brings Danish decor to downtown Birmingham

A husband-and-wife team opening a Danish furniture store in downtown Birmingham say they are speaking to locals' long-held love of simple, contemporary design.

Steve and Jane Szydek are opening BoConcept at 670 South Woodward this month in a 6,800-square-foot space filled with customizable, modular furniture and accessories that can be combined and assembled in numerous ways. A grand opening with sales and special events is set for Oct. 5.

The Szydeks describe their Danish franchise as a store that offers an affordable shopping experience in a unique environment that's unlike typical furniture showrooms.

“We decided to bring BoConcept to Michigan because for many years Danish furniture thrived in this area and it embraces the need for space, individuality, and great prices,” says Steve Szydek. “The designs feature clean, pure lines and are minimalist and modern. Most everything in the store can be customized in terms of color, style, material and size.”

The BoConcept Birmingham store opening brings the Denmark-based BoConcepts number of stores in North America to 30. It is the first in Michigan. The company has 230 franchise stores and 90 studios in more than 50 countries.

Source: Steve and Jane Szydek, owners, BoConcept Birmingham
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ink Detroit's new online store promotes Michigan-made goods


Ink Detroit
 started out as a company focused solely on making shirts and such that express Detroit love, and now the eight-year-old company is spreading its love to the whole of Michigan by turning out a new line of products that  show statewide pride.

The I Love Michigan line can be found at the newly launched I Love Michigan Shop, the newest addition to www.thegreatlakesstate.com, which was started several years ago by Ink Detroit co-founder Paul Marcial as a marketplace for Michigan businesses.

Marcial and Steven Mansour formed Ink Detroit in 2005 with the mission of creating hip and fun graphics for quality t-shirts and other garments and accessories that Motor City natives "can wear proudly like a badge of honor."

"It kind of started as a hobby. We were just doing shirts on the side for years. We weren't really pushing it. Then it started growing little by littler and it got to the point where one of us had to leave our job," Marcial recalls.

Mansour, who has a background in the garment industry, left his job and is full-time with the ventures. Marcial, a graphic designer and landscape architect, spends countless hours on the start-up. The company's offices and product development are handled from Marcial and Mansour's Royal Oak homes. They have a warehouse in Southfield.

After Ink Detroit got rolling, the Michigan pride vibe got stronger, Marcial says. It became clear the buyers were very different.

"We did a few Michigan designs before, and they did OK," Marcial says. "When we started a whole separate division that's where it took off."

He says a large number of sales are coming from Instagram posts, simple pics like one of his son in a I Love Michigan shirt at the apple orchard last weekend.

The next big step for Mansour and Marcial is the launch of a catalog, which is being printed and bound as the pair prepares to approach retailers about stocking their products. Currently about 10 stores sell their goods.

Source: Paul Marcial, co-founder Ink Detroit and I Love Michigan Shop
Writer: Kim North Shine

From Poland to Metro Detroit: ZIM'S Vodka takes on elite brands

Retirement at age 40 turned out to be pretty boring for Terry Olson. "There's only so much you can golf…and when your friends are still working…"

Not a sob story for sure, but with time on his hands -- the good part was spending days with his children, driving to school, jamming Tom Jones and Frank Sinatra 'til they loved it -- Olson started a post-retirement career as the creator and founder of ZIM'S Vodka and its parent company, The Rebel Spirits Group.

Now with the kids grown, the Grosse Pointe Park resident and former minor-league hockey player is pouring his time into the vodka brand he began researching nearly four years ago and started selling in January.

In just eight months, ZIM'S, which Olson casts as a competitor in the ultra premium class of vodkas, has 300 accounts -- all upscale restaurants and country clubs. ZIM'S, which bartenders have told Olson could be as catchy as asking for a Stoli, is a shortened version of the Polish word for potato.

At the Spirits International Prestige Awards in Las Vegas in mid-August, ZIM'S, a potato-based vodka, took platinum in the taste category for its ZIM'S 59 and bronze for ZIM'S 81. In the bottle design category, ZIM'S 59 took bronze.

ZIM'S, which is made in Poland, is getting noticed for many reasons, says Olson, who used to run a marketing company.
It's made in Poland from potatoes -- not from wheat or other grains  -- is gluten-free and comes in a low-calorie version and a higher-proof version. There's ZIM'S 81 and ZIM'S 59. Most vodkas are slightly lower proofs and slightly higher in calories.

He went with potato as the base ingredient and Poland as the manufacturing point to honor the history of the spirit. He runs the company with his best friend, Bruce Carroll. They drive around metro Detroit in cars plastered with ZIM'S logos.

"If you want the best wines you think of France and Italy. For beer it's Germany, Belgium, and I have to say Canada because that's where I'm from," says Olson, who goes by T.O. "When you get to vodka there's no question it's Russia or Poland."

"At one point in time I was thinking about making it here…I looked into it and I told my buddy we're going to get on a plane and go to Poland and see how it's done," he says. "The homework and research I did found out like 95 percent or more of vodkas in the world are non-potato. I wanted to go back to potato. It's more costly, but it's superior."

Working with Poles and Poland's international trade reps, they formed the product that became one of the latest metro Detroit craft liquor start-ups.

"It was a really cool process. We spent a number of days with their chemist going through my recipe, tasting it in all the different ways you'd serve it: room temperature, chilled, with cranberry soda, with Diet Coke," he says. "We tweaked it and once we got it all down I said OK this is it. They did the first batch."

Then there was the hiccup of the long delivery overseas and getting the cases through customs.

"I thought the shipment would be here for Thanksgiving. We missed that. Then Christmas and we missed that. Then New Year's. It finally arrived Jan. 7."

"Then we found out that January, February, March and April are the worst months for the liquor business. There is the holiday hangover: Bills to pay, people want to wind down and start fresh," he says. "So what we decided to do while all the liquor salespeople were waiting for the slow months to pass was go out and kick butt on the street."

Their first restaurant was Tre Monti Ristorante, Hour Detroit's restaurant of the year. Country clubs and Joe Muer's signed on. "Their customers will seek us out.

"We're very grassroots…We're out there spreading the word about ZIM'S."

ZIM'S also has "a group of ambassadors" around the state, signing on new vendors. Plans are rolling out to expand outside of Michigan this fall.

"We've already shipped all over the United States," he says. "Now we want to get into the next markets: Ohio, Illinois, Florida, Calfornia, New York, Texas…"

Source: Terry Olson, founder, The Rebel Spirits Group and ZIM'S vodka
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ferndale-based Valentine Vodka steps into more out-of-state markets

Valentine Distilling Co. in Ferndale is now distributing to stores in New York and preparing to go into Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Connecticut while a Detroit Red Wing has come on board as brand manager.

Rifino Valentine, owner and operator of the business, says Eddie Mio, former Red Wing, assistant GM for the Phoenix Coyotes and a part of hockey great Wayne Gretzky's Gretzky Estates Winery, will use his experience to guide Valentine through growth that's been on a steep incline since opening in 2009.

With the three new states and the District of Columbia as new markets, Valentine's product line, which includes Liberator Gin and Woodward Whiskey, will be sold now in seven states. Connecticut will come online in September and Maryland and D.C. will follow in October, he says.

The distillery, which also has a tasting room on Vester Street in Ferndale, brought in a new still earlier this week to keep up with production, Valentine says.

Valentine Vodka has won national and international awards since the first bottle was filled four years ago. The tasting room opened in 2011 and nearly 2,000 stores in several states stores now sell the vodka made in small batches in downtown Ferndale.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Rifino Valentine, founder, Valentine Vodka
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