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Local fitness and tennis coach rallies support for new FitLife gym

Dominika Wozniak has already had a pretty impressive career, including playing tennis both in college and professionally, as well as being a tennis coach and personal trainer. Now, she's planning to add "business owner" to that list of titles with her own gym, FitLife. 

"I did a lot of independent training in the past," she says. "I just rented a gym and ran my class in different locations. Now I feel like I have a pretty good base of clients and want to spread the word to come and joint the studio."

Wozniak plans to open her fitness studio in a 3,500 square foot space near State St. in Ann Arbor, but first, she's planning to raise part of the funds to launch FitLife through the crowdfunding website Indigogo. Because she requires such a large space and commercial property can be difficult to come by locally, she's hoping her campaign will prove her business's viability to her prospective landlord. 

As far as plans for the business itself, she has a clear vision of what she's hoping to create.

"We want to do group classes, and we'll have a separate area for personal training. Or they can do a buddy session where two people share one training session," says Wozniak. "Variety is key. I want to make sure the people who are coming to class, can pick what would make them happy."

Though the campaign will run for 30 more days, Wozniak hopes to move as quickly as possible to open FitLife. She hopes to open in January, and plans to employ a minimum of five trainers at the facility. 

Source: Dominika Wozniak, FitLife
Writer: Natalie Burg

Manchester chiropractic office to double in size with early 2015 move

Though Andrews Family Chiropractic's upcoming move in Manchester won't be a far one, it's been a long time coming — and will be a dramatic jump in size for the clinic. 

"When I first came to town in the beginning of 2007, there was a building across the street from me that I've always looked at and thought, 'That is an awesome building,'" says Andrews Family Chiropractic owner Dr. Dana Andrews. 

Soon, that awesome building will be the new home of his office, doubling his current space, thanks to the current tenant moving out. 

"I'll be able to mange my clients and patients a lot better having more space," says Andrews. "We'll have a nice, big waiting area so people aren't standing and waiting."

Andrews has significant renovations planed for the space, which will include the creation of a private office, exam room, two adjustment rooms, an x-ray room and two massage therapy rooms. In addition to his current massage therapist, he plans to hire another massage therapist, and the increased space will allow him to add an associate to his practice in the future. He plans to complete renovations and open in the new location in February. 

Source: Dana Andrews, Andrews Family Chiropractic
Writer: Natalie Burg

Midwestern Consulting continues growth spurt with four new jobs

The fact that residential and commercial development is on the rise is good news for a lot of folks, but perhaps few more than Midwestern Consulting, an engineering services firm. Though their staff dipped to 32 employees during the recession, that number has risen to 55 over the last 24 months, including four newly added positions. 

"The residential and commercial development is up about 40 percent of what it was last year," says Scott Betzoldt, a partner with Midwest Consulting. "These people we've added are directly involved in residential and commercial development."

Midwestern Consulting has provided engineering services such as civil, environmental and transportation engineering, as well as surveying, planning, information technology and landscape architecture to both private and public clients since 1967. The new positions include  a senior project manager, project engineer, project landscape architect, and engineering and ACAD Technician. Between them the four new employees have more than 60 years of experience in their fields — they don't represent the end of the Ann Arbor firm's growth. 

"We would like to increase our client base in Washtenaw County and Southeast Michigan and try to return to what we were before 2005 and 2006," says Betzoldt, referring to the company's pre-recession staff of 85, "and at that point, we'll then consider branching out into other parts of the state." 

Source: Scott Betzoldt, Midwestern Consulting
Writer: Natalie Burg

At Home celebrates new, 91,000 sq ft Ypsilanti location, 20 new jobs

Homes throughout the Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor area now have the opportunity to look more chic for less money. At Home, a Texas-based home decorating retail chain with 77 stores across the U.S. has opened its latest store on Washtenaw Ave. in Ypsilanti. 

"At Home has a significant growth strategy in place and we saw a great opportunity to expand into Ypsilanti to continue to increase our share of the home decor market," says Director of Public Relations and Corporate Communications for At Home, Stacey Sullivan. The Company also operates stores in Dearborn, Jenison, Kalamazoo and Utica, Michigan, which has enabled us to really get to know and understand the market."

The 91,000 square foot former Kmart location has been renovated and At Home celebrated a grand opening on Oct. 3. According to Sullivan, the store is known as a place customers come to shop for home decor items, as well as be inspired with new ideas. She says the average customer spends two hours in At Home. 
 
"At Home also has an expansion selection of holiday and seasonal products," Sullivan says. "We believe we occupy a unique niche of the home decor industry providing unmatched breath of traditional and trend-driven merchandising options for every style at accessible price points."

Along with low prices on home decor items, At Home brings 20 new jobs with it to Ypsilanti. Being the 77th new location still makes the Ypsilanti store an early addition to the growing company. At Home aims to grow into to 600 locations.

Source: Stacey Sullivan, At Home
Writer: Natalie Burg

Mota Thai Yoga transitions from private practice to public studio

It used to be, the only way to benefit from Luiz Mota's Thai massage and yoga therapy was to either know him, or be referred by a current client. In fact, that's how he got his start, simply by working on fellow martial arts competitors in his early 20s. But the growth of his clientele and their demand for more access to his services has led to Mota Thai Yoga expanding into class offerings and opening to the public. 

"I've always been word of mouth," says Mota. "But the more clients I had the more it has been them demanding more."

Mota Thai Yoga's transition has been gradual, beginning with Mota's move to an 1,100 square foot studio on W. Huron about a year and a half ago. After slowly adding more offerings, he has now hired an additional instructor and declaring his studio open to the public. 

Mota says Thai yoga therapy means something different to different practitioners. He offers it as as an assisted yoga practice that helps clients with injuries, illnesses or physical disabilities. Though he has long offered this and Thai massage, he now offers classes in aerial yoga therapy, other yoga types, small group yoga therapy and male ballet class. 

"I'm all about anatomy," says Mota, who is also a certified mortician. "I'm about the energy work too, but I take it to a whole different level. Even after my clients leave, I'm still researching their injury."

With the recent hiring of a new instructor, he hopes to soon offer mediation classes as well. Mota's goals are to continue to work with more clients and help them work through their injuries. He plans to hire additional instructors in the future. 

Source: Luiz Mota, Mota Thai Yoga
Writer: Natalie Burg

Blimpy Burger reopens with more seats, new jobs and same legendary burgers

It's been about 13 months since the Ann Arbor landmark Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger closed it's doors, and burger lovers can once again breathe easy: Blimpy Burger is back. The business reopened last week in its new location on Ashely. 

"So far, I've seen a lot of familiar faces," says Emily Magner, whose family owns Blimpy Burger. And the customers weren't the only familiar part of the shop's reopening. "We were able to replicate the Blimpy experience and the ordering experience that makes us so unique."

Though the burgers, diners and experience may be picking up right where they left off, one change in the new Blimpy Burger location is additional seating. With seats for more than 50 diners, they're up between 10 to 15 seats from the original location. As early as Monday of last week, financial supporters of the restaurant's new space were treated to sneak preview dining experience that Magner says was well deserved. 

"They were the key to us being here today," she says. "Not only did they support us in just helping with our morale, but they gave us incentive to make this happen."

Though still hiring and training employees Magner estimates the new Blimpy Burger will employ about 20 workers. She says though getting up and running is their first goal — the restaurant is currently operating on limited hours — long term goals for the business could include adding a catering component. 

Source: Emily Magner, Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger
Writer: Natalie Burg

Beezy's Cafe to expand downtown Ypsilanti operations into dinnertime

People just can't get enough of Beezy's Cafe in downtown Ypsilanti. The nearly six-year-old restaurant has both customers who want access to their meals a later hours, and employees looking for a new challenge. To accommodate both, owner Bee Roll has decided to expand her hours on Fridays and Saturdays and add a dinner menu. 

"The Beezy's focus of simple, honest food remains the cornerstone of the menu philosophy," says Roll. "Big bonus for a lot of folks will be the ability to get breakfast for dinner too. We currently only serve breakfast entrees until 2 pm daily. On Friday and Saturday, breakfast will be nonstop. Late risers, rejoice!"

For those without a hankering for breakfast at dinnertime, the new hours will include such hearty dinner dishes as pot pies, tuna noodle casserole and lasagna. Despite new hours and new foods, however, the cafe will remain the same physically, retaining its cozy, eclectic seating arrangement and self-service areas. 

"It's intentionally designed for people to literally bump into each and promote interaction and conversation, community," Roll says. 

There are more growth opportunities for Beezy's on the horizon as well. Roll hopes to soon launch a "plate club," in which customers would have their own vintage plate that lives at the restaurant, and she also plans to expand both her catering services and retail offerings. 

Source: Bee Roll, Beezy's Cafe
Writer: Natalie Burg

Brookie's Cafe serves up affordable food in Ypsilanti

College students don't always have a lot of spare money sitting around for food, but that won't be a problem at the new Brookie's Cafe on Washtenaw Ave. near Eastern's campus. 

"What I'm trying to do is target the college students who want pretty decent food for pretty good prices," says manager Echo DaShuane.

Students and Ypsilanti residents alike will find chicken, chili dogs, burger, cupcakes, cookies and more at the cafe, which opened last week in a storefront that sits about 13 diners and offers takeout. What foods and events Brookie's Cafe offers could evolve as well, as DaShuane says she's open to new ideas. 

"I'm making a suggestion box because a lot of college students have been coming in with suggestions," she says. "It s a fun, friendly atmosphere here."

Brookie's Cafe currently operates with a staff of six. DaShuane says the business is looking to hire additional staff and grow along with their clientele. 

Source: Echo DaShuane, Brookie's Cafe
Writer: Natalie Burg

Chelsea gets new breakfast/lunch joint, Plaid Melon Cafe

Dave Gallinat has possessed two things for a long time: a desire to open his own restaurant and "plaidmelon" as an online nickname. Beginning on Sept. 17, those two facts took on a new meaning with the opening of Plaid Melon Cafe in Chelsea. 

"My wife worked in Chelsea for a number of years, so we were hanging around here a lot," says Gallinat, a resident of Manchester. "I saw a need for a breakfast place downtown - both breakfast and lunch, and I like Chelsea."

When he saw a 2,200 square foot storefront become available on Main St., he knew it was the right place to realize his dream. Plaid Melon Cafe focuses on quality ingredients, unique menu item and food made carefully and to order. 

"If you order the omelet, we're cracking the eggs," Gallinat says. "Our bread is coming from Stone Hearth down in Brooklyn, and there's no junk in it. I'm trying use good stuff. It takes a bit longer, but my omelets are a bit fluffier."

Gallinat operates the restaurant with a staff of six, and, with his son helping out and wife in charge of his graphic design and website, is building Plaid Melon Cafe to be a family business. ?

Source: Dave Gallinat, Plaid Melon
Writer: Natalie Burg

The Espresso Bar to grow into new home above Literati Bookstore

When The Espresso Bar first started, it was intended to fill a few months of Sanford Bledsoe's time before leaving town for a job in Houston. The pop-up cafe below The Bar at 327 Braun Court quickly became a neighborhood favorite, and Bledsoe decided to devote himself to the growing business. That growth will soon continue in a new space when The Espresso Bar moves to the new third floor of Literati Bookstore. 

Bledsoe had been acquainted with Literati owners Hilary and Mike Gustafson for some time. When their desire for a larger events space aligned with Bledsoe's thoughts on expanding and The Bar at Braun Court wanting to do more with with first floor, the idea of moving The Espresso Bar to an events/cafe/retail space above Literati was a win for everyone. 

"We've been talking with Literati for several months, and now we're moving forward and getting all our ducks in a row so we can move as quickly as possible," says Bledsoe. "We thought this was a great opportunity for everybody."

To prepare for the move, he recently hired one new employee, and intends to hire about three additional workers in the future. Though opening will be dependent on many factors including the time needed for the build-out, Bledsoe hopes to be open before Thanksgiving. 

Though in a new location, Bledsoe says his focus will always remain on serving excellent coffee and espresso drinks to customers with uniquely personal service.

"It frustrates me about the coffee shop industry is we treat our customers like they're spending three dollars," he says. "I think it's important to make people feel like they're spending a million dollars."?

Source: Sanford Bledsoe, The Espresso Bar
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ypsilanti parents have new childcare option with Visible Learning Center

Visible Learning Center is just a few weeks old, but the family who opened the new Ypsilanti childcare and education facility has decades of experience in the business. Hanan Dari co-owns the center with her father, Hisham Dari who has been in the childcare business for 21 years in Ann Arbor. When it came to opening a facility together, however, Ypsilanti just made sense. 

"We'd get phone calls from families who needed care, and there is a lot of care available in Ann Arbor," says Hanan Dari. "We wanted to expand in Ypsilanti because there is more need for care there." 

The 4,500 square foot Visible Learning Center opened on Sept. 15. In addition to childcare, children participate in a creative curriculum and assessments from birth to five years old. The center also offers expanded hours in the evenings to cater to families with non-traditional schedules. 

"A lot of families need to have evening care to finish their education," Dari says. "Some don't finish their bachelors or masters because they work in the morning and they don't have care at night when they would go to class."

Visible Learning Center accepts children from infancy to 12 years old, and has the capacity to care for up to 74 children. Dari says she hopes to continue to grow the facility and perhaps eventually open multiple locations. ?

Source: Hanan Dari, Visible Learning Center
Writer: Natalie Burg

Affordable fashions come to State St. with Verbena boutique

If you asked Kate Duerksen what she might be doing in August of 2014 a year ago, she wouldn't have guessed opening a retail store in downtown Ann Arbor. But what began as a small idea mentioned last winter to her father, owner of the former All About Blue store on State St., quickly grew into a plan when M Den offered to buy out All About Blue. 

"Part of that deal was that I would keep 1,500  square feet to do my own thing," says Duerksen. "It all happened really fast." 

The result was Verbena, a women's retail shop that opened on Aug. 15, offering clothes, accessories and some apartment decor such as succulents. With the store right on State St., Duerksen chose to keep her prices student-friendly.

"Everyone is happily surprised by our price point," she says. "We definitely still cater to the students with prices."

That hasn't limited her customer base. Since opening a month ago, Duerksen has served women of all ages in the shop. She hopes to soon expand her operations with e-commerce, and currently employs eight workers.

Source: Kate Duerksen, Verbena
Writer: Natalie Burg

Authentic Greek olive oil company grows into Ann Arbor storefront

Having gallons of pure, authentic Greek extra virgin olive oil around the house never seemed out of place for Grigorios Stamatopoulos, whose family has been farming olives and making oil for centuries in Greece. After bringing over an extra large supply and sharing it with some friends, however, he realized just how rare such high quality olive oil was to others. 

"They said that there was something different about my olive oil," Stamatopoulos says. "They thought I should start selling it."

A few years later, he began to do just that. His family in Greece began supplying him with the oil, and after bottling it, he began to sell it at a farmers market in Pittsfield Twp. After finding success there, he had market managers from all over the area approaching him to be a part of their market as well. 

While he will continue to offer his Stamatopoulos and Sons olive oil at area markets, that demand inspired him to look for a more permanent place to sell his products. In a couple of weeks, Colonnade Mall on E. Eisenhower will become that place as the first Stamatopoulos and Sons store opens in a 1,700 square foot space. 

"My goal in the beginning was just to raise awareness that in order to get the good stuff you have to know where it comes from," says Stamatopoulos. But people wanted to know where they could get this olive oil all the time."

What makes his olive oil different, he says, is it's purity. Accoriding to Stamatopoulos, so much of what is sold as extra virgin olive oil in stores are in fact olive oil blends, some of which aren't actually extra virgin. His oil, coming from his family's farm in Greece, is superior in a way people can taste. 

Stamatopoulos will offer a variety of olive oils in his store, at which he plans to employ a staff of five. He hopes to continue to grow his wholesale operations as he becomes established in retail as well. 

Source: Grigorios Stamatopoulos, Stamatopoulos and Sons
Writer: Natalie Burg

Saline studio dances into new, 4,000-square-foot space closer to downtown

It's been nine years since Robert Kubis took over Come Dancing, and since that time, the studio has fostered a great number of competitive and hobbyist ballroom dancers. Now the business is making a new kind of move, with a relocation to a 4,000 square foot studio on E. Michigan Ave. in Saline. 

"It's closer to downtown Saline, and we thought that might be more beneficial for us," says Kubis. "We will lower our monthly expenses. It is a good deal for us." 

That's an exceptional deal, considering the new home of Come Dancing will be 500 square feet larger than the last, giving teachers and students a full 2,300 square feet of dance floor. The expanded space will allow Kubis and his instructors to continue their commitment to serving both casual and competitive dancers. 

"We are a studio that has produced a lot of competitive dancers," he says. "Ballroom has lots of competition across around the country and we are probably one of the best competitive studios in the area, and even of Michigan. That is about the quality of our teachers."

Kubis is now in the process of transitioning from his former location to the new. He plans to open for classes and the beginning of October, and complete his renovations by the end of that month. 

Source: Robert Kubis, Come Dancing
Writer: Natalie Burg

Longtime barista breaks into entrepreneurship with Carrigan Cafe

When it opens this Friday, Carrigan Cafe will be Saline's newest coffee spot, but it will come with lots of coffee know-how. Karen Carrigan, who will open the cafe with her husband Jason Carrigan brings her experience as a barista at the former Drowsy Parrot Coffee Shop and Brewed Awakenings Cafe, as well as a degree in hospitality. 

"I've always wanted to do my own business, I just didn't know what," says Carrigan. "Over the years, aging and experiences I've worked in so many different restaurants and kitchens, and coffee is just where I was the happiest. I think it's the interaction with the people."

Though Carrigan Cafe isn't yet open in the space formerly occupied by My Favorite Cafe, Carrigan has already had the opportunity to interact with some of the people who could become her future customers.

"I was out the past two Saturdays passing out coffee, meeting new faces and seeing some of the faces from my previous work," she says. "It's nice to say 'hey' to them again." 

Though some of her vendors and offerings will be the same as My Favorite Cafe, Carrigan will serve Coffee Express beans from Plymouth and will use other local vendors such as Ed's Bread, Benny's Bakery. Carrigan Cafe will open with a staff of five. The cafe website will go live soon. 

Source: Karen Carrigan, Carrigan Cafe
Writer: Natalie Burg
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