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Blue Lion Fitness to open on Stadium Ave this spring

Ryan Van Bergen and Danny Roth both love fitness and Ann Arbor, so it's appropriate that the two University of Michigan graduates are now the co-owners of the forthcoming Blue Lion Fitness, a gym with a team-approach to working out. Their gym opens on W. Stadium Blvd. in early spring. 

"For us, working out, is so much more than getting to gym, putting your headphones on and doing your own thing. You can only get so far that way," says Roth. "What we're doing really brings people together and gets rid of that fear of trying anything new and pushes them to the extreme."

The class-oriented gym will offer one-hour team training sessions including high-intensity interval training, strength and conditioning, core strength training, suspension training and plyometric training.

Renovations to the 4,000 square foot facility have just begun, and will include a complete reconstruction of the space with top-of-the-line equipment and astroturf flooring. The partners expect construction to be complete by early February and to open the facility between mid-March and early April.

"In the fitness industry, location is key," says Van Bergen. "We think it will be highly visible and  centrally located from all the high schools. I also like cruising down Stadium and passing the Big House on my way to work."

Blue Lion Fitness will employ three reception staff and a gym manager in addition to Van Bergen and Roth as trainers. The business will also place a focus on community involvement, offering clients a free one-hour session for five hours of community service in a month.

Source: Ryan Van Bergen and Danny Roth, Blue Lion Fitness
Writer: Natalie Burg 

Local pharmacy to open in Downtown Ypsilanti storefront

Clark Pharmacy on Washtenaw Ave. in Ann Arbor has long taken a service-oriented approach to healthcare. The business delivers prescriptions to clients' homes or caretakers free of charge, and works with service organizations throughout Washtenaw County to extend services to low-income individuals. That approach has led to growth, which has prompted the opening of a new location in downtown Ypsilanti. 

"We ran a report and found that about 60 percent of our clients live in Ypsilanti," says pharmacist and co-owner Nathan Worthing. "We found it was a favored market from an investment standpoint as well."

That's why, for the last three to four months, Worthing and Ed Salamen, also a pharmacist and co-owner, have been working to renovate the former Angel Food Catering location in downtown Ypsilanti. The interior and exterior renovations have gutted and rebuilt the 4,000 square foot building, which had been vacant for a couple of years. The large amount of space, says Salamen, will be put to good use. 

"We are planning on expanding our services," he says. "We are in the works of making some business decisions to help make us more accessible to the community. It's a valued service we're providing.

The new Clark Pharmacy is set to open soon after the first of the year. The Ypsilanti location will initially employ two pharmacists, a technician and two drivers, and the owners plan to hire an additional technician to help with their expanded services. The pharmacy will be the business partners' third, as they also own a location in Wayne. 

Source: Nathan Worthing and Ed Salamen, Clark Pharmacy
Writer: Natalie Burg

Babo Market expands with 2 new locations in Nickels Arcade and on Boardwalk Dr.

It's been a busy year for babo, A Market by Sava. After opening babo: Farm Fresh Meals to Go on Boardwalk Dr. in late November, the Savco Hospitality company is launching babo: Real Food Fast in Nickels Arcade. Both locations will offer grab-and-go food options. 

"People have busy, hectic lives," says Joanne Navarre with marketing and public relations for Savco Hospitality. "The grab-and-go concept at babo makes it easier for people to have healthy meals and snacks."

In addition to offering grab-and-go food, the 9,600 square foot Boardwalk location will be home to Savco University, a meeting room for classes and staff training and babo Central Kitchen, which will serve as creation space for babo products and Savco Catering. 

The new location will give residents options for quick food for any time of day, says Navarre. 

"After work, when you’re thinking about what to serve for dinner, we can help with meal starters, side dishes, salad dressings, sauces, and great ideas to make dinner easy and delicious," she says. " In 2015, we’ll add packaged ice cream to the offerings."

Babo: Farm Fresh Meals to Go is now open on Ann Arbor's south side. The Nickels Arcade shop is opening soon. 

Source: Joanne Navarre, Savco Hospitality
Writer: Natalie Burg

Lua Makeup & Hair Studio celebrates grand opening in Arbor Hills Crossing

Lua Makeup & Hair Studio got its start just over a year ago when owner and stylist Dalal Farha decided to break out on her own and open a studio at Hair Essentials Salon Studios on Washtenaw Ave. Though her Dec. 6 move to Arbor Hills Crossing may not have been physically far, the expansion in to her own 450-square foot space represents a big step for Farha's growing salon. 

"I've been looking to get to that area and have been looking to expand," Farha says. "My clientele was getting bigger and I needed a larger space." 

The Saturday grand opening of the new Lua Makeup & Hair Studio location featured the launch of Farha's new oil bar. A longtime fan of oils, Farha creates oil cocktails for clients customized for their hair. Her mixes address various hair issues such as frizz, shine and growth. 

"I wanted to be a little different," she says. "There are eyebrow bars and blowout bars. We are starting something new that is exclusive to the area."

Lua Makeup & Hair Studio offers a variety of services. While Farha maintains the salon herself, she also provides space to a laser hair specialist at the studio as well. She hopes to continue to grow her business as well as launch her own oil product, Lua Midnight Oil. 

Source: Dalal Farha, Lua Makeup & Hair Studio
Writer: Natalie Burg

Dan's Downtown Tavern expands in Saline

Four years after the Saline bar and restaurant's last expansion, Dan's Downtown Tavern is growing again with the addition of a 900-square foot space that came available next door. As owner Dan Kolander owns the building, the turnover made for a smooth transition at the right time.  

"We have the space to use, so we might as well use it. We've been having to turn people away," Kolander says. "I think it's because we keep our prices fair and our food is good. The non-smoking thing made it more family-friendly, so that helped."

The addition will bring Dan's Downtown Tavern to a total size of about 3,900 square feet and will add capacity for about 70, though initially they'll begin with about 40 more seats. Currently, Kolander plans to use the space as overflow and for special events. In the future, he imagines installing a bar and creating a single malt scotch bar. 

"That wont' happen until after the first of of the year," says Kolander. "I want to make sure people can use it for holiday parties first."

Renovations were minimal, as connecting the spaces was as easy as uncovering former passageway. Kolander planned to open the new space last week, and expects to hire up to two new staff members with the expansion.

Source: Dan Kolander, Dan's Downtown Tavern
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ultra-efficient movement/performance studio proposed for N. Main St

Peter Woolf doesn't consider himself a developer, but everything else about his background and interests has led him to become just that. The former University of Michigan chemical engineering faculty member, human health-based software entrepreneur, as well as dance and movement hobbyist has proposed plans for an energy-efficient, 12,104-square foot movement and performance studio on N. Main called Moving on Main.

"My goal is less to create a building as a pile of bricks, but instead to create a symbiotic organism that works to connect and nourish the people that occupy it," says Woolf. "Some of this symbiosis involves environmental stewardship."  

Woolf's goal is for the building to produce all of its own electricity, and possibly use the rainwater as well. It will be built with materials that have "lower embodied energy," are recycled and recyclable. The Movement on Main business will include both large and small spaces for dance, circus arts, classes, lectures, micro-cinema, weddings and performance on the first floor. The second will include space massage and spa-type uses. Hostel space will also be included.

Woolf envisions such activities taking place Moving on Main as meditation, tango lessons, Japanese-style baths and massage. 

"There is no single place in Ann Arbor — or anywhere for that matter — where you can do all of this," he says, "so we are creating the space for the business."

Though the plans are just in the proposal stage, Woolf hopes for construction to begin in the spring of next year, and be complete by spring of 2016. He plans for Movement on Main to employ both eight to 12 human employees, as well as a virtual staff member named Sammi. 

Source: Peter Woolf, Moving on Main
Writer: Natalie Burg

Toledo-based architecture and planning firm to open Ann Arbor office

Downtown Ann Arbor's creative talent pool is set to grow deeper in 2015. Toledo-based architecture, design and planning firm The Collaborative has announced plans to open their second office at 206 S. Main St.

"One of our main goals in opening this new office is to become a integral part of downtown Ann Arbor as well as the University of Michigan," says The Collaborative Director of Marketing Brook Jones. "The Main Street location allows for just that."
 
Renovations on their space have already begun and some employees are already working there. The Collaborative aims to complete work by end of January and have a soft opening in late spring of next year. Renovations to the space include interior work and social workspaces.
 
"The Collaborative is an amazing place to work," Jones says. "We are a forward-thinking design company rooted in the belief that delivery of an excellent product will always set you apart."

The total number of jobs to be created by the new office is not yet known, though Jones says the firm is always looking for new talent. The new office will contribute to The Collaborative's plans to continue to grow their higher education and corporate client relationships, and to retain and recruit exceptional people.   
 
Source: Brook Jones, The Collaborative
Writer: Natalie Burg

VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System opens $2M heart value replacement suite

Before now, when veterans anywhere in the Midwest needed a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR procedure, they had to travel out of state or to a private hospital, as the minimally-invasive surgical procedure heart valve surgery wasn't available at a nearby VA hospital. With the opening of the $2M, 1,000-square foot TAVR Suite at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, that will now change. 

"Aortic stenosis is a disease of elderly patients and it's not uncommon," says Dr. Claire Duvernoy, professor of medicine
with University of Michigan Hospital and Health Systems and cardiology section chief for VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. "Because our veterans tend to have other, co-existing medical conditions, they may be too high risk for open heart surgery. This procedure was developed those for whom doing an open heart operation is too risky." 

Beginning in January, these veterans will have access to the TAVR procedure here in Ann Arbor. Duvernoy expects the suite will begin with about one procedure a week an ramp up to two to three each week over time. The VA Ann Arbor Healthcare Systems celebrated a ribbon cutting at the site this week. 

"This is a big step forward," Duvernoy says. "We have our first patient scheduled for January, to allow time for the room to be used and for everyone to get comfortable working there."

One nurse and one nurse practitioner will be hired to manage TAVR patients pre- and post-procedure. University of Michigan Hospital physicians with extensive experience with TAVR will be performing the procedures at the VA. Currently, the university hospital performs more TAVR procedures than any other facility in Michigan. Bringing this service to veterans in the Ann Arbor area and beyond is expected to open up the benefits of TAVR to many veterans with aortic stenosis who might otherwise not have qualified for help with their condition. 

Contact: Dr. Claire Duvernoy, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System
Writer: Natalie Burg

Train-themed restaurant opens in downtown Milan

Melissa and Golaik Mahmutaj's son Brooklyn has always loved trains, and the couple has long wanted to start their own restaurant. When a commercial space right next to the railroad tracks became available in Milan, everything just clicked. 

"It seemed like a great place to lay down our tracks," says Melissa Mahmutaj. "We just love it."

Brooklyn's Sidetrack opened on Nov. 4 with a train theme that encompasses everything from the decor to the menu. The diner-style restaurant offers such dishes as the Trainmaster Breakfast and the Railbender from breakfast through dinner. Though the 1800s building required significant renovations, the husband-and-wife team brought the restaurant to life primarily with their own elbow grease. 

"I had a vision," Mahmutaj says. "My mother watched our kids for us so we could get as much as we could done. We pulled a lot of days where we just drank coffee and stayed as late as we could."

Brooklyn's Sidetrack seats about 100 diners and employs a staff of about 13 local workers. Mahmutaj says the reaction from the community has been positive, and they're working to evolve their business along with the suggestions of their customers. 

Source: Melissa Mahmutaj, Brooklyn's Sidetrack
Writer: Natalie Burg

Arbor Hills Crossing gets Real Irish store

In a new Ann Arbor shopping center there's a new store, but it's actually been around town for more than a decade, selling crafts that carry on cultural traditions from much, much longer before. 

Real Irish got its start in a small kiosk downtown about 15 years ago. After taking its handmade, authentic Irish goods business online 10 years ago, owner Stuart Marley has now opened a new storefront in Arbor Hills Crossing. 

"I've thought I about doing retail again in Ann Arbor for some time," he says. "I appreciate Ann Arbor a lot, and I've lived here since 1993. But I've been reluctant to try it because of the overhead costs." 

The 800-square foot store was just the right opportunity for Real Irish to branch out into a physical location, not to mention being close to Marley's Ann Arbor home. The new store opened last week with offerings perfect for the holiday season.

"Throughout the winter we'll be focusing a lot on woolens and woolen clothing," Marley says. "At the end of January we'll decide what items to bring over after the wool season. I'm thinking pottery and home gifts and more Irish gifts as well."

Marley currently operates Real Irish with the help of family members, but plans to hire about two employees soon to help manage his new operations. He says the foot traffic in Arbor Hills Crossing has already brought in a good number of customers and he's looking forward to being a part of the community of businesses there. 

Source: Stuart Marley, Real Irish
Writer: Natalie Burg

New, 25-unit condo development planned for Kerrytown

If anyone needs proof that demand for downtown living is still on the rise in Ann Arbor, the announcement of Huron Contracting's third Kerrytown condo project in various stages of development should suffice. As his North Main condos near completion and the Kingsley Lane project should break ground in a few weeks, a new, 25-unit condo project has been proposed for N. First St. 

"We're excited," says Tom Fitzsimmons of Huron Contracting. "As long we we can continue to find land in or near Kerrytown and the demand remains strong we'll continue to develop. "

And people seem willing to continue to buy. The North Main development is sold out, and the Kingsley St. project is about 75 percent sold before groundbreaking. Similar to the previous projects, the new N. First development will include on-site parking and a mix of unique, one- to three-bedroom units ranging from 900 to 2,000 square feet each. 

"You're going to be two blocks from Kerrytown, and two to three blocks from downtown," says Fitzsimmons. "With parking on site, it's going to be a fantastic spot." 

Though prices for the new units have not yet been set, Fitzsimmons says his current near-downtown condos are selling for approximately $375 to $400 per square foot. Though the new plan is in the proposal stage, should all go well, Fitzsimmons hopes to break ground in late summer of next year and complete construction in 2016. 

Source: Tom Fitzsimmons, Huron Contracting
Writer: Natalie Burg

Massage Mechanics expands footprint, adds five new workers in Depot Town

Make no mistake, Massage Mechanics is not a spa. And that is working for them. The Depot Town business has been operating since 2011, and during that time it has grown from a 225 square foot space employing only the two owners to a 1,000 square foot operation with seven massage therapists. 

"Our big tagline is, 'We are not a spa.' We don't have the extras or do the fluff an buff massage," says Andrea Gruber, who owns Massage Mechanics with partner Becky Smith. "We're here to provide excellent quality therapeutic work to our area. We really want to help people and be a staple, not a luxury item. 

That means they can keep their prices affordable to those they feel need massage the most — working class people who are often on their feet or sitting at desks all day. That attitude has served them well. They moved from their original location more than two years ago into a larger space across Cross St., and this spring, expanded that 700 square foot space to accommodate even more growth. Since that time, they've added five additional massage contractors to their business. 

Smith and Gruber plan to continue the growth of Massage Mechanics with the same philosophy that had led to their current success: listening to the needs of the community. 

"Ultimately we want to keep growing as the customer base allows," Gruber says. "Every so often we look at the world around us to see that it needs."

Source: Andrea Gruber and Becky Smith, Massage Mechanics
Writer: Natalie Burg

Stony Lake Brewing Co. nanobrewery to open in Saline

As a concept, Jerry Tubbs's forthcoming Saline business has been brewing for years now. Come February, however, the nanobrewery Stony Lake Brewing Co. will finally be ready for patrons to get their first hoppy taste of the new local watering hole. 

"My wife and I have always played around with different business ideas over the years," says Tubbs. "My love for beer and brewing made it just kind of fit."

The 3,300 square foot Stony Lake Brewing Co. on E. Michigan Ave. in Saline has been under construction for months now, after Tubbs began his lease in June. Building a brewery from scratch takes time, however, and Tubb is just now getting his brewing equipment installed and ready for operation. His microbrewers license will allow him to brew and serve his own beer at the location. Offering food and and selling his beer to other local establishments may come further down the line. 

"My kettles are three-barrel, which is on the small side, so I follow what a lot of these nanobrewes have done," Tubbs says. "I'm hoping with a year or two under our belt we'll be planning for larger tanks".

While Stony Lake Brewing Co. will offer a variety of different beers, the menu will include a number of IPAs — Tubbs's own personal favorite. While he will brew the beer himself, he expects to hire a staff of about seven to operate the taproom when he opens in February. 

Source: Jerry Tubbs, Stony Lake Brewing Co.
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Briarwood Bravo! Cucino Italiana now hiring for 75 new jobs

A new option for "polished casual" Italian dining and more than 75 new jobs are coming to Briarwood with the forthcoming Bravo! Cucina Italiana. With locations in Dearborn, Lansing, Livonia and Rochester Hills, Ann Arbor will be the newest of the restaurant's many locations. 

"Ann Arbor is the perfect mix of professionals, families and students," says William Kirby, GM for the Briarwood/Ann Arbor Bravo! "[It's] a great fit for us and very close to the type of community we are successful in amidst our Lansing location."

Hiring for both front of the house and back of the house employees has already begun, though Bravo! is still looking to hire up to 40 more staff members. Applicants may apply at Courtyard Ann Arbor at 3205 Boardwalk Drive, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. until all positions are filled.

The new, freestanding 6,551 square foot building at Briarwood includes a semi-private banquet room and a 1,242 square foot patio, which will include seating for 55 and fire pit. The restaurant will include 40 tables in the restaurant, and 41 seats in the bar. The grand opening will be celebrated on December 11. 

"The new Ann Arbor location is part of our expansion project in Michigan," says Chief Executive Officer of Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, Inc., Saed Mohseni. "We have a great reputation within the community and want to continue to expand and provide high quality of food and service within the market. For 2014 we opened 6 new restaurants inclusive of the Ann Arbor location."

Source: William Kirby, Briarwood/Ann Arbor Bravo! Cucina Italiana
Writer: Natalie Burg

Now, Then & Again brings cards, classes, antiques to Milan

A longtime knitter and card maker, Cindy Day has wanted to open a shop that included both for some time. Combined with her mother's experience as the former owner of Victorian Garden in Blissfield, the concept for Now, Then & Again in Milan finally came together: an antiques, thrift and vintage shop that includes her handmade cards and knitted goods. 

"It's been going really wonderfully," says Day's mother Sandra Suchy. "Milan has been very responsive. I've from Milan and all our children were raised here, so it's like coming back home."

Now, Then & Again opened about three months ago and celebrated their grand opening earlier this month. Many of the antiques came straight from from Suchy's own collection of displays from her former shop, as well as garage sale and auction finds she's collected along the way. In the future, Day, who is a nurse in Adrian by day, would like to add knitting and card making classes to the shop's offerings. 

For now, the store will focus on a wide variety of new, used and antique items. 

"We have unique treasures and price ranges for everyone," Suchy says "from 50 cents to hundreds of dollars. We have a lot of beautiful antiques, good quality used furniture and brand new items."

Now, Then & Again is located between Roy's BBQ & Burgers and Chase Bank in Milan. Day manages the store herself with the help of Suchy. 

Source: Sandra Suchy, Now, Then & Again
Writer: Natalie Burg
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