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Pita King brings Middle Eastern sandwiches to E. Stadium

Just across the parking lot from Trader Joe's, a new restaurant is hoping to attract some of the popular grocer's fresh, natural food-loving audience. Pita King joined the neighborhood on Dec. 17, offering a healthy, American twist on Middle Eastern sandwiches. 

"Because what we serve is so healthy and fresh, we thought it would be great location," says Assistant Manager Fidaa Kasham, who operates Pita King with her husband, manager Moe Shalabi. "We also use organic chicken that has no antibiotics. It's what we've been using at home for years, and we wanted to share it with others."

A family affair, Pita King is owned by Shalabi's father, and two of the sandwiches on the menu are named after the couple's children. A longtime restaurant worker, Kasham says her husband saw opening a restaurant as an opportunity to do the work he enjoys in a new way. 

"He's always loved the food industry," she says. "He never wanted to leave his spot, but he always said if he were ever to leave, it would be for his own place. We found this great location and felt very fortunate."

While diners will find familiar Middle Eastern titles on Pita King's menu, Kasham says the American twist comes in with the ingredients, including cheddar cheese, banana peppers, lettuce and tomato, as well as chicken. She and her husband currently operate the restaurant with the help of her brother-in-law. As their delivery service and business grows, they plan to hire a delivery driver and additional kitchen worker. 

Source: Fidaa Kasham, Pita King
Writer: Natalie Burg

The Lunch Room to open second downtown Ann Arbor location next week

Just a few years ago, The Lunch Room was but a food cart. As of next week, the popular vegan eatery will be an established and growing restaurant chain with two downtown locations. 

"The Kerrytown location probably wasn't big enough from the first day we moved in there," says co-owner Joel Panozzo of The Lunch Room's first permanent location, which opened in 2013. "We've been making things work, but on a weekly basis, we'd say no to large catering orders and wedding cakes and one thing after another. So we've been trying to figure out how we could say yes."

The answer turned out to be a second location with a larger baking space. The new restaurant in Huron Towers on Fuller Ct. will include a 1,037-square foot dining room and adjoining kitchen large enough for the owners to expand their baking operations enough to cover both locations, catering and wholesale orders.

The new Lunch Room will feature grab-and-go options to cater to the student and hospital worker crowds buzzing around Huron Towers, while the Kerrytown location will continue to focus on made-to-order meals. Sit-down dining, however, will definitely still be available at the new restaurant, in addition to their deli case offerings. 

"With the sandwiches, we'll unwrap it and grill it to order," says Panozzo. "We'll play and experiment with how far we can take the grab-and-go concept."

Panozzo expects to begin with a soft opening of the new location over this weekend, with doors officially opening some day next week. He and co-owner Phillis Engelbert plan to employ about 15 part- and full-time workers at the new restaurant.

Source: Joel Panozzo, The Lunch Room
Writer: Natalie Burg

Plum Market brings second store to Ann Arbor, 125 new jobs

A new grocery store planned for the former Cleary University property on Plymouth Rd. will be a familiar sight for many Ann Arbor shoppers. Plum Market, the Farmington Hills-based grocer that opened their first Ann Arbor location in 2008, aims to open the doors on a second area location in the space this fall. 

“This location will be the most exciting Plum Market yet!,” says CEO & Co-Founder of Plum Market Matt Jonna. “We have previously operated a store in this area, so we think of this as a homecoming and are very excited to return to the neighborhood with Plum Market.”

The new location will indeed be very nearby the former Merchant of Vino Marketplace, which was owned by Jonna’s father. The family’s Plum Market venture, which now operates four locations in Michigan and Illinois, is known for its commitment to local, fresh and sustainable produce. And their plans for growth won’t stop with the new Ann Arbor location.

“We plan to grow in the Midwest and continue to offer our guests the best selection of natural, organic, specialty, and local products,” Jonna says. “We are also opening a new location inside the Detroit Metropolitan Airport this fall.”

The new Plum Market will be 25,000 square feet. The company expect to employ 125 workers at the location when it opens this fall. 

Source: Matt Jonna, Plum Market
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Arbor Hills Crossing salon to offer fine art with hair artistry

Clair Broderick has long been an artist of hair, but she’s also a mixed-media, painting and crafts artist too. That collection of talents will all be on display at her new saline boutique, Sprig Hair Studio 21, in Arbor Hills Crossing. 

“I see my salon as a high-end, boutique salon,” says Broderick. ”Others that work with me in the space will have that skill and customer care for our clients as their absolute first priority.”

Sprig Hair Studio 21 opened on Jan. 6, though Broderick is developing her vision for the space as she works in it. She anticipates having her full line of products, including her own art and jewelry, in place by the end of February. 

“I have brought in local art by friends and myself to decorate along with a few vintage pieces,” Broderick says. “I am having custom work made by clients who were willing to help and trade for their fantastic abilities.”

In addition to herself, Broderick will work with two other stylists at Sprig Hair Studio 21. She is also looking for one additional employee. Her future plans include becoming involved in community efforts such as volunteering in schools, community events and non-profits. 

Source: Claire Broderick, Sprig Hair Studio 21
Writer: Natalie Burg

Three sisters, one new wedding-focused studio in downtown Ann Arbor

Julie Hill and her sisters Hannah Butler and Whitney Keeler have three distinct talents, and yet they've found a way to combine them into one business. Imagine Three Beauty Studio opened in November on E. Liberty in downtown Ann Arbor, offering what each sister does best: event hair styling, photography and makeup services. 

"We are just taking three of our talents and going with it," says Hill, who is the hairstylist of the trio. "If I'm working with clients, my sister can meet with her photography clients here, and they can see the work and flow of what we do on a daily basis."

Weddings are a natural fit for Imagine Three Beauty Studio, which offers a trio of needed services to brides and their wedding parties. Prior to opening their studio together late last year, Hill, Butler and Keeler met with wedding clients in a rented room, but the full studio allows them to expand their services and expose clients to each others' work. Though they specialize in weddings, they cater to an array of events. 

"We did a New Year's special," says Hill. "And through that, we ended up meeting two people who are getting married in the next year. Word spreads that way."

In addition to offering hair, makeup and photography services, Imagine Three Beauty Studio specializes in natural, organic, vegan and gluten-free products for clients with an interest or need in specialty hair products or makeup. They also plan to offer makeup and hair classes. In addition to the three sisters, the studio employs a client services coordinator, and Hill hopes to add another stylist and makeup artist in the near future. 

Source: Julie Hill, Imagine Three
Writer: Natalie Burg
 

Maize and Blue Deli plans second location on Main and Liberty

Fans of S. University's Maize and Blue Deli will have something new to cheer about on Main Street this spring. Coming in early March will be the longtime restaurant's second location on the other end of downtown. 

"We were trying to expand and we thought it was a great marketing opportunity to be right on Main Street," says Maize and Blue Deli's Hamsah Sukkar. "Honestly, it doesn't get better than Main and Liberty."

Work on the 1,600 square foot space has already begun. As the restaurant owners are starting with a completely empty space, there's much to do to transform a portion of the building once occupied by the Selo/Shevel Gallery into a deli. 

According to Sukkar, the deli will be very similar in both look and menu to the original Maize and Blue Deli location. He hopes the appeal of the locally-owned eatery will be as strong on Main Street as it has been on S. University.

"I'm a local, Ann Arbor resident trying to expand in my city, and hopefully we'll get some businesses supporting us," he says. "We're not a big franchise, so we're hoping to see a lot of local interest."

The new deli will seat between 50 and 55 diners and Sukkar estimates he will initially employ between five and 10 workers at the new restaurant. 

Source: Hamzah Sukkar, Maize and Blue Deli
Writer: Natalie Burg

Church-backed coffee shop and craft beer bar to open in Ypsilanti

Coming this spring, Ypsilanti residents and visitors will have a new place to sip a cup of joe, meet with like-minded people and fill up on craft beer, all thanks to a local church. Though churches and bars aren't typically in business together, the forthcoming Cultivate is set to break the mold. The social enterprise, backed by Grace Ann Arbor Church, will offer drinks, snacks and community connections, but not, says director Ryan Wallace, any type of agenda. 

"The church is the people. And the first thing that people are called to do is to create good in the world," says Wallace. "The whole point of this is how do we love our community?"

For Cultivate, creating good includes having a transparent business model and open books, as well as hosting community events, sourcing locally, creating a community garden, supporting clean water efforts worldwide and more. It also means offering patrons genuinely good products.

"The team we have gathered is obsessed with quality," Wallace says. "We want to make sure that we have the best service and products. They need to be excellent."

The public will be able to test that quality this spring. Now under renovations, the 2,400 square foot Depot Town location is set to open for coffee on May 1, with the bar operations to follow in the summer. Wallace estimates Cultivate will employ, in addition to its current three staff members, up to six part-time staff. Its web presence, including a website, Facebook and Instagram accounts, will launch this Friday. 


Source: Ryan Wallace, Cultivate 
Writer: Natalie Burg

Mother and daughter open Très Beau Salon in Manchester

After Manchester residents and mother-daughter duo Carrie Neff and Brianna Bulley had been working in the hair industry for a number of years, they decided it was time to branch out. This fall, just the right spot opened up for them in downtown Manchester. 

"It was the perfect opportunity and we went for it," says Bulley. "It's been great. We've been really busy."

Trés Beau Salon opened on Nov. 1 after about a month of renovation to the space. According to Bulley, the women modernized the space, exposing the building's brick walls and removing an old ceiling. Their stylish space reflects their philosophy on hairstyles. 

"We keep up on the trends and try to go to hair shows and classes to stay up-to-date with the newest techniques," Bulley says. "Education is really important to us."

With a busy clientele already, the women are already looking toward growth. In the short term, Bulley would like to hire another stylist in the next few months. Eventually, she hopes to add spa services to the growing salon. 

Source: Brianna Bulley, Trés Beau Salon
Writer: Natalie Burg

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 friends who met at the University of Michigan 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
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