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Taste Kitchen to bring locally sourced yet global cuisine to Liberty

Though the owners of the new restaurant coming into the W. Liberty location vacated by sushi place Tamaki will be the same, that's about the only thing Taste Kitchen will have in common with its predecessor. The new, multi-faceted eatery will offer light breakfast, light lunch, afternoon tea service and fine dining in the evenings, all under the theme of thinking globally and acting locally. 

"We aren't pigeonholing ourselves into a certain kind of food," says Michelle Hinze, pastry chef and general manager for Taste Kitchen. "Our menu is going to be fresh and vegetarian and vegan friendly. If we feel like cooking Thai one day, we'll do that. If we want to cook  African the next week, we'll do that." 

The ever-changing menu will be sourced as locally as possible. According to Hinze, their priority is to use ingredients first from Michigan, and then within a 200 mile radius when possible. The ambiance of the restaurant will move from casual dining early in the day and during afternoon tea service, and then move into a more formal experience at night. 

"We want to hit as many target markets as we can," Hinz says. "Our location provides us great access to the college students, and we want to step things up for dinner service to draw in other clientele from the Ann Arbor area." 

The goal is to open Taste Kitchen in about two weeks. Hinze expects to hire 10-15 staff members to operate the restaurant. Future plans include getting involved with the community and partnering with local artists and musicians. 

Source: Michelle Hinze, Taste Kitchen
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Braun Ct. cafe to be whatever patrons make of it

The owners of the Bar at 327 Braun Court are about to launch a new offering at the same address. The Ground Floor Cafe, which will open this week in the location indicated by its name, will offer espresso drinks, wine and beer and light foods such as panini sandwiches and house-made pastries. 

"This will be much more like a cafe than the Espresso Bar," says owner Eric Farrell, referring to the pop-up business that recently relocated from the space. "We'll have people eating, having some drinks and hanging out - a place to linger and meet people. Hopefully people kind of make it their own and figure out what they want the space to be." 

In the two weeks since the Espresso Bar left, Farrell has been working on light cosmetic upgrades to the space to prepare it for its new purpose. 

"The room before was pretty spartan," he says. "It was always intended to be a pop up. We're just upping the aesthetics a little bit. I think it's going to be a welcoming space. I've added some color and texture to the room."

Farrell expects the Ground Floor Cafe to open this week. He's hired a staff of three, including the talents of former Zingerman's Next Door and Mighty Good barista Dana Blaifdell. He also anticipates the offerings of the cafe to evolve and grow with the business, just as the Bar at 327 Braun Court has evolved over the years. 

Source: Eric Farrell, Ground Floor Cafe
Writer: Natalie Burg

Mentor2Youth grows into Ypsilanti office space, looks to add staff

While in graduate school at Michigan State University, Emmanuel Jones conducted a study to determine the impact of mentorship on the grades and behavior of middle school aged children. His findings led him to a new career. The positive results inspired him to create Mentor2Youth, a non-profit organization serving kids primarily in the Ypsilanti area. Three years later, the growing organization has found a new home in the newly renovated Ypsilanti Town Center on Ecorse. Rd. 

"I felt this location would be prefect because there's not really a lot of support services on that side of town," says Jones. "Being on a bus line allows families who might not have transportation to come learn more about our programs." 

And Mentor2Youth needs the space. What began as one program serving 15 student has grown into multiple programs during the school year and summer offered in multiple locations, having 350 kids so far. Programs include everything from life skills and career planning to fun field trips the students wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to experience. 

"We want them to get thinking long term about what they wan to do with their lives," Jones says. "We try to expose students to their potential and what they're capable of doing."

The new office will help support six to 10 part-time staff Jones hopes to soon hire to help manage the growing program. Through the help of grants, he plans to eventually expand his staff to include permanent employees. As the organization is always in need of volunteers, in-kind and financial contributions and other means of support, those interested in helping out can find more information on Mentor2Youth.com 

Source: Emmanuel Jones, Mentor2Youth
Writer: Natalie Burg

Coval Fitness expands into 4,500 sq ft Phoenix Dr. space

Coval Fitness and Sports Performance has been on a growth path for some time. After growing its staff last year, the semi-private fitness and sports performance facility has relocated to a new, 4,500 square foot location on Phoenix Dr. 

"We expanded due to a growing client base and because we wanted to have a space that fit with our vision," say owner Mike Coval. "In a nutshell, our vision is to have a high-end facility that clients can come to for their fitness and performance needs, massage therapy, physical therapy, and nutrition coaching."

Prior to opening in May, Coval renovated the new space to include a bathroom with a shower and two changing rooms, in addition to cosmetic renovations. His next step will to be to get rid of the drop ceiling. The new location he says, will allow Coval Fitness and Sports Performance to mode their vision. 

"Its also ideal because once this building is full, there will be so many other companies that we share the space with," he says. "This allows for more exposure and opportunities to connect with people."

Though his staff remains at four employees, the continued growth of the business has expanded their hours. Coval's three-year vision includes becoming go-to fitness and sports performance center in the Ann Arbor area. 

Source: Mike Coval, Coval Fitness & Sports Performance
Writer: Natalie Burg

Dance with Heart studio to bring dance to Manchester

Anya Noveskey had long wanted to make a career out of dance, then a hip injury derailed her plans. But even after putting down her dream to study counseling and receiving a masters degree, it only took a few years of returning to dance as an instructor to resurrect her original plan. Now fully certified to teach dance, Noveskey is opening her own studio, Dance with Heart Studios, in Manchester this week. 

"I want to be a different type of studio," Noveskey says. "I really want to teach the passion of dance and the feeling it can give you. I want to kids to learn how to act appropriately and kind, and still get to their goals without having the negative feelings that can come with competitiveness."

Noveskey began dancing and also taught dance in Adrian. When looking for a place to open her own studio, she found Manchester had fewer dance offerings than other communities in the area. In addition to offering classes in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern dance, musical theater, yoga and Zumba, she plans to give the community different ways to experience dance. 

"I have ideas about movie nights, to play a full-length ballet to educate the community," she says. "A lot of people don't realize what you can do with dance. You can make it a career if you want to."

Dance with Heart will open this week on Main St. in Manchester. Noveskey and her sister will teach the dance classes, and will be joined by two Zumba and one yoga instructor. She hopes to grow the business enough to expand into a second studio in the basement of her current location. 

Souce: Anya Noveskey, Dance with Heart
Writer: Natalie Burg

Study finds demand for 1,800 more residential units in downtown Ann Arbor

The recent rush of new residential buildings in downtown Ann Arbor might lead some to believe that the 716 more units under development might overkill. Those folks might be surprised to learn that a new study commissioned by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority has found that not only are those apartments and condos needed, but by 2019, 1,800 more housing units will be needed to meet downtown demand. 

Not surprised by this is the DDA itself. According to DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay, they hear from people all the time who want to live downtown but found the number of available units to be low. A study like this, Pollay says, not only gives the DDA the ability to advocate for the kind of development needed downtown, but also demonstrates demand for future developers, such as the need for 90,000 to 100,000 square feet of additional office space. 

"It gets the numbers out there -  vacancy is lower all the time and office rents continue to rise," she says. "While we may not see a new office building immediately, these numbers help to communicate to developers and business owners to keep an eye on things, because there is a growing opportunity in downtown Ann Arbor."

Also mentioned in the report is an average price tag of $1,500 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Ann Arbor, which is out of reach for households earning between 50 and 80 percent of downtown's Area Median Income. Study author 4ward Planning attributes the elevated rents to the growing desirability of living there. Whether or not meeting the demand with additional units will result in more affordable options, Pollay says, is difficult to tell. A forthcoming Washtenaw County Housing Needs Assessment will hopefully shed more light on the topic later this year. 

Source: Susan Pollay, Ann Arbor DDA
Writer: Natalie Burg

Real Ryder Revolution relocates cycling studio, expands number of classes

Just five years old, Real Ryder Revolution indoor cycling studio has already grown to four locations in Birmingham, West Bloomfield, Chicago and Ann Arbor. After first operating on N. Main for three years, the Ann Arbor location will soon be even closer to its core clientele with a new studio on E. University. 

"We wanted to be as close to campus as possible," says Leslee Blatnikoff, owner of Real Ryder Revolution. "We just want to feature it more toward the students." 

The approximately 1,500 square foot E. University location will open next week. The new location will offer an expanded number of classes for the 18-bike studio. The business is now running a pre-grand opening special on classes. The goals of Real Ryder Revolution, says Blatnikoff, will remain the same in their new space.

"We just want to make sure it's busy and we can give the students the workouts they want, and continue to be good, healthy influence in the fitness arena," she says. 

Real Ryder Revolution operates with eight to ten instructors. Updates on the business and new studio can be found on the business's Ann Arbor Facebook page.

Source: Leslee Blatnikoff, Real Ryder Revolution
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ganger Dermatology grows into new building, doubles staff in just two years

When Dr. Laura Ganger and her husband A.C. Ganger opened Ganger Dermatology in November of 2012, the goal was to create a different kind of practice. Less than two years later, their results are certainly out of the ordinary. They've grown from a small office of five staff into a new, 6,500 square foot location with four providers and 10 support staff, and a new satellite office in Wixom is forthcoming. 

"We decided to rethink everything we could," says A.C. Ganger. "It's paperless, high-tech and we really focus on the patient experience." 

That means patients rarely wait longer than five minutes for their appointment to begin, and never have to fill out a clipboard full of paperwork. Ganger Dermatology staff takes everything possible off of the patients' plate, from contacting insurance companies to working with pharmacies. 

"We build in buffer so patients don't end up waiting," Ganger says. "We see a lot fewer patients than the typical practice in a day, but we want to spend a lot of time with them."

That philosophy had Dr. Ganger booked out three months in advance after her first month in business. The growing practice moved to their current location on Huron Parkway in February after extensive renovations. Ganger plans to begin operations in their new Wixom location in mid-October. They hope to attract other medical specialists to join them in the 15,000 square foot facility. 

In addition to growing their business, Ganger Dermatology has also grown into the Ann Arbor community. They have sponsored such events as the Colors of Cancer run and The Event on Main. 

Source: A.C. Ganger, Ganger Dermatology
Writer: Natalie Burg

Elevation Burger aims for early 2015 opening of second Ann Arbor location

When UM grads Michael and Sarah Tayter were looking for a way to return to Ann Arbor from Austin, Tex., their favorite burger restaurant ended up being the key to their return. 

"There were a couple of Elevation Burgers in the area, and that became our family's favorite restaurant," Michael Tayter says. "I always had an entrepreneurial itch, and it kind of felt like a perfect fit."

That led to the opening of their first Elevation Burger restaurant on Washtenaw Ave. in July of 2013. Now, the husband and wife team will be expanding by adding another branch of the environmentally friendly burger franchise downtown on Liberty.

"We definitely have always wanted to open one up on campus somewhere," Tayter says. "Having no restaurant experience for the first one, it was very difficult to convince anyone to lease us space on campus. But now the concept has proven itself."

The 1,800-square-foot space will be under renovation for several months, with January 2015 as Tayter's projected opening date. The downtown location will receive an updated design treatment for the Elevation Burger franchise with a more modern look than previous stores. Updates on the construction will be posted on the Elevation Burger Ann Arbor Facebook page.

Elevation Burger specializes in organic, grass-fed beef that is ground in the restaurant, as well as other healthy and sustainable foods and ingredients. Tayter expects to employ a staff of between 10 and 12 workers at the new restaurant. With a three-store franchise agreement, the couple plans to open a third location in the future, and hopes to keep all three in Ann Arbor.

Source: Michael Tayter, Elevation Burger
Writer: Natalie Burg

Symba Clothing to offer fashion for women of all sizes in Ypsi

Felicia Sims has always had an eye for fashion. Her dream was to create a store where women of all sizes, particularly women of color, could find great clothes. Come October, that dream will become a reality with Symba Clothing & Fashion in Ypsilanti.

"I was trying to make a woman feel happy while she's shopping," says Sims, "and not break the bank on nice, quality pieces."

Symba has been operating online for a few months, but Sims decided adding a physical storefront was important to her clientele. As a shopper, she likes to try on clothes and have the option of making returns easily. As a business owner, she found just the right spot for her shop at the new Ypsilanti Town Center development. 

"I noticed that Ypsilanti didn't really have a store that I was trying to create," Sims says. "A couple of people have refered me to Ypsilanti as well."

Sims hopes to opens Symba Clothing & Fashion's physical location in October. She plans to operate the store herself at first, and then hopes to hire an employee in the future.

Source: Felicia Sims, Symba Clothing
Writer: Natalie Burg

Zingerman's Mail Order adds 15 jobs, plans warehouse expansion

Zingerman's Mail Order has been growing between five and ten percent each year. As that growth is expected to continue, that means the catalog and online sales member of the Zingerman's Community of Businesses is eventually going to need more space - and that physical expansion is set to begin this fall. 

"We're taking a slow approach to moving into the space," says Zingerman's Mail Order Managing Partner Toni Morell. "We're taking a little bit more strategic approach, expanding every time a tenant is moving."

With neighboring tenants ending their leases between now and 2017, Zingerman's Mail Order plans to eventually take over the entire building. The first expansion will take place in November, when the business will take over an additional 6,000 square feet. Sure, Morell could have gone out and found a larger warehouse elsewhere immediately, but she didn't want to lose the benefits of their Phoenix Dr. space. 

"We like that we're on the bus route on this side of town and there aren't a lot of warehouse spaces on bus routes," says Morell.

Along with growing in space, Zingerman's Mail Order has also been growing its staff. Fifteen new employees have been added since August of 2014, bringing their total staff to 83. The business also hires 450-500 seasonal workers during each holiday season. Morell anticipates adding more products and growing the business in other ways as they grow in size, though no specific decisions have been made yet.

Source: Toni Morell, Zingerman's Mail Order
Writer: Natalie Burg

Hispanic-focused hair salon to open in Ypsilanti Town Center development

As a hair stylist, Mareli Santiago noticed a gap in the salon services offered in Ypsilanti. 

"There are a lot of Hispanic people in Ypsilanti, but there aren't a lot of hair salon [employees] that speak Spanish," Santiago says. "Some people will go all the way to Detroit to find one." 

Soon, they won't have to. Santiago plans to open her own salon in the Ypsilanti Town Center building now under development on Ecorse Rd. As her parent already owns a small market nearby that is patronized by many Hispanic customers, it seemed like the perfect location for her niche market and beyond. 

"We'll probably have more Hispanic people come in, but anyone is welcome," says Santiago. 

Though she's currently undecided on a name for the studio, Santiago is leaning toward Studio M as a possibility. Renovations are now underway, and she hopes to open around mid-September. Initially, she plans to offer hair services only, but may expand to nails in the future. She and two other stylists will work at the salon.


Source: Mareli Santiago, Salon Owner
Writer: Natalie Burg

Pearl Yoga and Massage to open in Ypsilanti

With her mother and sister in the bodywork business, massage therapy was nothing new for Monica Boch by the time she began working in the field full-time in 2012. But when she broke her hand in late 2013 and couldn't do any bodywork for seven months, she decided it was time to expand her operation into new territory by opening her own studio. 

"I realized I needed to expand my vision of what I was doing as a business owner, and have a more diversified offering," Boch says. "I realized that there is this total picture of health stuff that I feel is valuable."

Boch plans to open Pearl Yoga & Massage in early September on Pearl St. in Ypsilanti, adding yoga, Pilates and dance instruction to her offerings. The historic, 1,200 square foot space proved to be exactly what she needed to bring her vision to life - exactly where she was hoping to open the business. 

"I wanted to offer this in Ypsi because most people have to to Ann Arbor for this," she says. "Most of our massage will be based in Swedish, therapeutic massage, but we'll also be bring in people who do Thai massage."

Boch says her focus at Pearl Yoga & Massage will be to provide quality, personalized services to clients, as well as pay her therapists and instructors livable wages. She anticipates hiring 6-10 specialists and plans to work to pair each client with the best instructor or therapist for their needs and skill level. 

Source: Monica Boch, Pearl Yoga & Massage
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ballet Chelsea moves into new, 8,000 sq ft. studio

Ballet Chelsea has a brand new home and with it will come new classes and offerings for people of all ages. The non-profit, which began as the performance arm of Dance Arts of Chelsea in 1995 has grown into quite the entity in and of itself - which eventually led to the need for its own space. 

"We were expanding our ideas of programs we wanted to add and other things we wanted to do, and we felt we needed more space," says Ballet Chelsea manager Brenda Stevens. "We didn't want to take advantage of the other organization, so we decided to strike out on our own." 

The non-profit found just the right place to do so on S. Main St. in Chelsea. The 8,000 square foot studio allows Ballet Chelsea space for three dance studios, the largest of which is the size of their performance stage. 

"It has done is allowed us to have more control over the training of our dancers, and we can establish the class offerings ourselves," Stevens says. " It's allowed us to open up different types of dance to the community. We're offering Scottish Highland step, and we're going to have ballroom dancing, yoga and Pilates." 

Ballet Chelsea opened in their new space three weeks ago after first locating the space in February. As the space was a white box at that time, the organization built their studio from the ground up with the financial assistance of many local supporters. 

The non-profit currently serves about 50 to 60 dancers during their summer programming, but Stevens expects that number to climb to more than 300 people weekly in the fall. The increase in class offerings has spurred the hire of two new instructors, brining their total to 14. 

Source: Brenda Stevens, Ballet Chelsea
Writer: Natalie Burg

Authentic Greek street food coming to S. University

Dimitri and Aphrodite Roumanis have grown up around Greek food, visiting Greece every year with their family. Now, the brother and sister team, along with their father, will bring the cuisine to N. University with Mezes Greek Grill

"What we eat there is what we wanted to bring here and introduce people to authentic Greek street food," says Dimitri Roumanis. "The amount of foot traffic and student traffic that is here every day is perfect. People will come in between classes, and there are a lot of faculty that come to the around for lunch."

Included on the menu will be gyro meat served on a stick, a recent trend Roumanis has experienced in Greece, egg lemon soup, as well as a salad made from dried bread, tomatoes and olive oil - and, of course, the traditional chicken, beef and lamb gyros. 

"Our food is not typical to what that location has," says Roumanis. "There's Greek food around here, but you have to sit down and order. We're trying to add the quickness of street food."

Roumanis plans to open Mezes Greek Grill next week with a staff of about eight after more than three months of renovations. The restaurant will be located in the former Sushi.com location, and will sit between 50 and 60 diners. 

Source: Dimitri Roumanis, Mezes Greek Grill
Writer: Natalie Burg
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