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Dexter : Development News

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Jolly Pumpkin ripens business with more tap rooms, distribution channels

Dexter-based Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is growing by capitalizing on a number of revenue streams. This includes adding tap rooms across Michigan and opening up more distribution channels for its popular beers.

Jolly Pumpkin opened new tap rooms in its Dexter home last year and in Detroit's Midtown neighborhood last April, where it employs about 50 people.The artisan ales company currently has four tap rooms across Michigan is looking to open a few more.

"We will continue to find new locations and open up Jolly Pumpkin tap rooms in Michigan," says Ron Jeffries, founder of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales.

It's part of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales' plan to focus its growth in the Great Lakes State. Its distribution in Michigan is up 70 percent over the last year. The 11-year-old brewery is aiming to produce 12,000 barrels of beer this year, which would be up from 8,000 barrels in 2014.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is pushing to sell more of its upscale brews in chain retailers. The brand is currently in a number of super markets, like Busches, Whole Foods and Kroger, but it is looking to add more chain restaurants to its distribution roster.

"Our sales team have been making great strides for us," Jeffries says.

The growth has allowed Jolly Pumpkin to hire more and more people. It currently has a employee base of just more than 200 with its tap rooms. A staff of 25 people mans the brewery in Dexter after hiring three people in the last year, and it's looking to hire three more now.

"We are currently looking for more people," Jeffries says. "We have been interviewing people for the last month."

Source: Ron Jeffries, founder of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Border To Border Trail creates connectivity by shrinking gaps

The development of the Border to Border Trail has always been known for its potential for creating a walkaway across Washtenaw County for pedestrians and bicyclists ...and for the sizable gaps that keep it from doing just that.

Advocates for the trail have been pushing to bridge those gaps this year, which include closing small breaks in the county’s big cities and creating large sections in its more rural areas. The idea is to get more of the region's non-motorized traffic off the road and onto the Border To Border Trail.

"You avoid putting a whole bunch of cyclists and pedestrians on the same road," says Bob Krzewanski, chair of the Friends of the Border To Border Trail. "Motorists usually don't look for cyclists and pedestrians."

A couple of those major gaps that advocates want to close include small but critical sections in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Ypsilanti has budgeted money to build a pedestrian bridge over the Huron River at Riverside Park and Michigan Avenue, which will enable it to connect the Water Street development, downtown, and Depot Town, through the Border To Border Trail and its park system.

Ann Arbor is making plans to build a pedestrian bridge over the Huron River, too, this time where Maiden Lane crosses the river near the University of Michigan Health Center. Currently, users of the Border To Border Trail need to cross the vehicular bridge next to traffic. Creating a smaller pedestrian bridge underneath it will provide some much needed space between people and cars.

"It (the Maiden Lane bridge) was built with space underneath," says Larry Deck, board member of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition. "There are concrete pads there where the trail bridge should go."

Both Deck and Krzewanski are optimistic that funding packages for both projects could come to fruition within the next year and construction starts soon after.

There are larger gaps in the Border To Border further outside the cities, such as a smaller section at the very eastern edge of Washtenaw County and a large section between Ann Arbor and Dexter.

"The segment in between Ann Arbor and Dexter is problematic," Krzewanski says. "To get it off road you need to get private property easements."

But both are confident these sorts of large projects will get done within the next few years, despite the obstacles ahead. They see a growing demand for this sort of recreational opportunity as what will really make a complete version of the Border To Border Trail a reality.

"A lot of people say they would go out to walk or bike if they has some place to do it," Krzewanski says. "This gives them that opportunity."

Source: Larry Deck, board member of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition; and Bob Krzewanski, chair of the Friends of the Border To Border Trail
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Dexter gets new Sushi Time restaurant

Until recently, when anyone from Dexter wanted to dine in a fresh sushi restaurant, they had to drive to Ann Arbor. Now, they only have to zip over to Dexter Plaza on Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd. to Sushi Time, which was opened about four weeks ago by long-time sushi chef Min Kang. 

"So many of my friends said Dexter is a nice place where many people like sushi," Kang says. "Then, I found a good place here." 

Sushi Time offers both dine-in seating for about 30 customers, as well as carryout. Kang says the restaurant's specialties are their signature rolls, which include the Dexter roll, Chelsea roll and the Lemon Wedge roll. 

"We have some plans to make more special rolls, and more appetizers," says Kang, "We have a lot of things to do, and it's getting busy." 

Kang has worked as a sushi chef in the area for 14 years, and recently decided it was time to start his own restaurant. Sushi Time is a family business, employing himself and his wife, as well as about three additional employees. 

Source: Min Kang, Sushi Time
Writer: Natalie Burg

Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics doubles its size with new location

Until recently, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea's Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics office was bursting at the seams. But running out of space gave the clinic the opportunity to address a few other issues with their downtown Dexter location.

"We were on the second floor and parking wasn't the greatest," says Chris Ray, office manager for Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. "We didn't have the greatest signage to let people know where we were. The conversation started with our providers about looking for a different space within the community."

They found it in the Dexter Crossing shopping center on Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd. The 4,500 square foot space nearly doubled their original size, allowing for their growing staff and patient population to operate with a lot more elbow room. All that space, however, won't change the office's quality of care.

"Regardless of the space of how big it looks, we're still providing the same great patient care we were before," says Ray. "We want to provide more opportunities to our patients and better access." 

Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics made their move from one clinic to the next in about five highly orchestrated hours on July 15. As the provides and staff become more acquainted with their additional space, says Ray, they'll begin considering what new those new opportunities they hope to provide to their patients may be. 

Source: Chris Ray, Dexter Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
Writer: Nataie Burg

New Dexter business spices up downtown

After 14 years as a public school teacher, Denise Becker decided to spice things up with her business in downtown Dexter. The Dexter Spice House offers spices, rubs and spice blends that are unique to the area. 

Becker's interest in spices began when she her daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease four years ago. Rather that relying on pizza and take-out to feed her busy family as she had before, Becker was inspired to take to the kitchen and learn how to cook foods her daughter would love. Spices became key to her success. 

"I loved it," Becker says. "I was always on the hunt for different species and rubs and blends. When I had the idea to open my own store, I just decided to go for it."

The Dexter Spice House offers a variety of unique spice rubs like honey chipotle and an adobo lime, and blends such as shawarma, spicy thai, as well as all-purpose blends named after ares of Dexter.

"My blends are ones that you just can't find at any grocery store," Becker says. "Even the nice spice shop in at Ann Arbor — they have some blends that I don't have, but I have some they don't have."

Becker is now working to develop her online presence and expand her business to the web. She currently operates the shop herself with help from her mother and a part-time employee. 

Source: Denise Becker, Dexter Spice House
Writer: Natalie Burg

Bailiwicks Outdoors brings fly fishing accessories and outdoor gear to Dexter

Lauren Kingsley has enjoyed fly fishing for 25 years, during which time she's become an expert in the industry. While she anticipates outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds will enjoy her new Dexter shop, Bailiwicks Outdoors, she especially hopes it will make sportswomen like herself feel welcome. 

"Women are the fastest growing segment in the sport, and yet when women go into the shops, they're often less than woman-friendly," Kingsley says. "We want to be known as a welcoming shop where people don't just buy stuff, but they come for help and knowledge and community — and for that to be particularly true for women."

Bailiwicks Outdoors is a joint venture between Kingsley and co-owner Dirk Fischbach. The shop features high-end fly-fishing gear, adventure wear and gifts with a Michigan outdoors theme. Dexter's proximity to the Huron River and growing downtown business community made it the perfect place for such a shop. 

"It's a goof fit for us because it's a half a block away from the main downtown," says Kingsley. "You can walk to it, but there's ample parking. It's also a house, so it's really cozy, warm and there's great natural light."

The 1,300 square foot location opened April 1. Kingsley plans to add seminars and workshops to the Bailiwicks Outdoors offerings in the near future. The shop is operated by the owners, who will soon share the workload with two part time trainees. 

Source: Lauren Kingsley, Bailiwicks Outdoors
Writer: Natalie Burg

Boxwood Cottage and Home opens in Downtown Dexter

Downtown Dexter is now a little cozier. Boxwood Cottage and Home, a home goods retail and furniture renovation space opened in late November on Alpine St. Owners Gail Hauman and Mandy Pomo off customers home decor items, chalk-based furniture paint and furniture painting workshops. The shop is the only location in Washtenaw County now carrying the unique, eco-friendly paint

"If you haven't painted furniture before, there are so many techniques to learn," says Hauman. "We provide all of the supplies, and we just have a lot of fun. It's a really fun way to bring new life into the furniture you already have."

Hauman and Promo chose the homey, 550 square foot space for its proximity to downtown. After putting their personal touch on the interior, Hauman says customers are finding the show room cozy enough to call home. 

"We have a lot of support from people in Dexter," Hauman says. "They love the space. People just want to sit down and read. It's very homey and cozy." 

Boxwood Cottage and Home is currently staff by the owners. In the spring, they plan to invest in extensive landscaping and expand their inventory to include yard and gardening decor. They are currently celebrating the recent launch of their website, and hope to add ecommerce to the site in the future. 

Source: Gail Hauman, Boxwood Cottage and Home
Writer: Natalie Burg

Jolly Pumkin gets new facility in Dexter, to add a taproom

The forthcoming null Taphouse at the Jolly Pumpkin facility in Dexter has been a long time coming. 
"Ever since Lori and I opened Jolly Pumpkin we wanted to have a tasting room in the brewery," says owner Ron Jeffries. "We opened with a ridiculous shoestring budget, and then we kind of went back and forth over the next ten years of having either not enough space or money at the time."
After moving into a new, 70,000 square foot facility last year, the time is finally right for that vision to be fulfilled. A 5,000 square foot space in the building will be dedicated to the taproom and tasting area, the plans for which are still under development. One thing Jeffries knows for sure is that it will come together with the input of their customers. 
"We always want to get our fans involved," Jeffries says. "We want them to have the opportunity to participate in building out the taproom."
To support the project, customers can join a number of "clubs" by donating funds in exchange for different ways to be a part of the project, such as sponsoring a booth or having their name included on a wall.
The null Taphouse will serve beer tastings, light snacks and possibly sandwiches, include seating, and will also host tours. Jeffries says customers often stop by the facility, and he's looking forward to being able to give them the opportunity to look around. An additional five to ten employees will initially be hired to staff the business. Though progress will depend on a number of factors, he hopes the taproom will be open to the public by early summer.

Source: Ron Jeffries, Jolly Pumpkin 
Writer: Natalie Burg

New beer and wine retail concept to open first location in Dexter

The Beer Grotto coming to downtown Dexter will be more than a retail store. Though beer and wine sales will be its primary function, those sales will come with advice, recommendations and information from alcohol experts, along with samples and even a chance to sit down and enjoy a drink inside the store. 
"Our goal is that you're never going to walk out of the store with something you haven't tried," says Beer Grotto President Sam Short. "We're going to have an educated staff, a good selection and the ability to test stuff in the store before you leave."
East Lansing resident Short is relatively new to Michigan, but has been in the beer and restaurant business for years. After working with a number of well-known names in the industry, such as Grand Rapids' Barfly Ventures of HopCat fame, he is moving into the retail business. In what turns out to be a happy coincidence, the prime location for launching The Beer Grotto is the same village that is home to his wife's family.
"It was serendipity," says Short. "Dexter is great because it's very close to Ann Arbor, but yet it retains this true American small town feel. But it still has 30,000 cars driving regularly through. It's a neat little community."
The Beer Grotto will open in the 3,000 square foot former home of Dexter Pharmacy on Main St. In addition to retail space, the business will include a lounge area in which customers to enjoy a beverage. He anticipates work beginning on the space in Jan., and hopes to open with a staff of about 15 employees in late April or early May.
Short plans for the Dexter location to be the first of 15 Beer Grotto locations. He anticipates the next two will also be in the Ann Arbor area, and will open in 2014. 

Source: Sam Short, The Beer Grotto
Writer: Natalie Burg

Pie it Forward sets down local roots in Dexter

Last year, Sarah Fertig and Chris Kovac started giving away pies. The just wanted be kind and inspire others to think about kindness. They kept giving away pies in Liberty Plaza, and 18 weeks later, they knew they were on to something, even if it wasn't clear what that something was yet. 
"I realized this wasn't going to be a little side project," says Fertig. "I had accidently stumbled across something really great. I just didn't know if I was going to be a travelling pie evangelist, or would be in one location." 
So they took their show on the road. After giving away 251 free pies from San Francisco to Washington D.C., Pie it Forward has returned to Ann Arbor, set down roots in Dexter, and is preparing to get official as a non-profit.  
Pie it Forward makes pies and trades them for any amount between 10 cents and 10 dollars. In addition to apple pies, shepherd's pies have been added to the menu, and pasties may soon join the mix. The newly incorporated non-profit's mission isn't to feed the hungry or raise money, but simply to demonstrate kindness, and that no one does anything without a community. 
"I may have made a pie, but I didn't plant the wheat field. I didn't plant the orchard," says Fertig. "The hope is when people hear about our mission, they think about what they can do. What can I do to improve my own neighborhood? What skills do I have to offer?"
After traveling all over the nation with their concept Fertig and Kovac have decided to keep the Ann Arbor area as the home of Pie it Forward. They are currently seeking out commercial kitchen space and can now accept tax-exempt donations. Fertig says she hopes to grow the organization into a fleet of food trucks to expand Pie it Forward to Flint and Detroit, as well as have a disaster relief truck that can go anywhere in the nation with pies when a tragedy occurs. 

Source: Sarah Fertig, Pie it Forward
Writer: Natalie Burg

Restored, historic barn to be raised again at Zingerman's Cornman Farms

When faced with a historic barn in disrepair, people can get pretty creative. Some sell the "reclaimed barn wood" to be used as flooring or décor, others might slap a coat of paint on it and cross their fingers it doesn't fall over, but neither approach is really up Zingerman's alley. So they decided to deal with the 1837 barn on their Cornman Farms property in Dexter in a way that better fit their style: having it completely disassembled, shipped to a barnwright, restored, and shipped back for reassembly. 
"They're basically sparing no expense," says Zingerman's Marketing and Communications Specialist Eric Olsen. "Most people don't send off a barn to be rehabbed, but that's what we're about. We believe in sustaining this property." 
The final stage of the process will officially kickoff with the raising of the barn on Sept. 29. During the private, all-day event, workers will raise the barn and begin the process of reassembling and refurbishing it for its future use as an events space. Though the project is a lengthy one, expected to continue through next summer, Olsen explains that preserving this piece of history is simply worth it.
"It's a classic, beautiful barn," he says. "It's also an integral part of the at property. It's also been a landmark in Dexter for well over 100 years. We wanted to make sure we didn't disrupt anything out there." 
Private events have already been booked at the future events space for 2014. Zingerman's vision for the barn includes hosting weddings, business meetings and other events in the two-story structure. 

Source: Eric Olsen, Zingerman's
Writer: Natalie Burg

Dancer's Edge to expand into nearby 12,000 sq-ft space in Dexter

A forthcoming Dexter Downtown Development Authority project is coinciding with the growth of a local business. The Dexter DDA-owned property at 3045 Broad Street now houses the 10-year-old Dancer's Edge Studio. Owner Valerie Potsos will be expanding the business from its current, 7,000 square-foot space into a building she is purchasing across the street that will provide an extra 5,000 square feet for Dancer's Edge. The move will come in time for the DDA to proceed with the demolition of the current building.
Though the new space will give her business more space, Potsos says retaining a similar location was a big part of her decision to move right across the street.
"We have students coming from all over the state within a 100-mile radius," Potsos says. "Those students and families bring revenue to downtown Dexter by visiting the village's restaurants and shops."
Work on the building is slated to begin next February, and Potsos says discussions are still underway as to how the space will be utilized. The business now serves about 400 students and maintains a staff of about 20 part-time instructors. The new move not only reflects growth for Dancer's Edge, Potsos believes the entire neighborhood is growing into an artistic neighborhood.
"We plan on building an arts community," she says. "With our close proximity to the theater, there are so many synergistic things we can do together!"
The Dexter DDA intends to create a development plan for the property that will be demolished. 

Source: Valerie Potsos, Dancer's Edge
Writer: Natalie Burg

Kids Fashion Jungle triples in size at new Dexter location

Just a year after opening in a small location in Manchester, the children's resale and retail shop, Kids Fashion Jungle, is preparing to open in a new, larger location in Dexter. 
"Now we can breathe," says owner Tamara Douglas. "We had a lot of stuff stored in the back and had stuff stacked up to the ceiling. We just didn't have enough space." 
Kids Fashion Jungle will nearly triple their space in the new location, going from just over 800 square feet to 2,400. With the additional room, Douglas plans to carry bigger merchandise, as well as add a kids' entertainment element to the jungle-themed store. A craft room will be created where children can get creative. 
"Kids can come in and do a fun, creative gift for under 10 dollars," says Douglas. "We're just trying to make it a fun place for kids in different ways." 
The new store is scheduled to open July 20. In addition to the new craft room, Douglas hopes to offer crafting parties for kids' birthdays and other occasions in her expanded space. 
While Kids Fashion Jungle is currently operated by Douglas with some help from her family. She hopes the new space will allow her to grow enough to hire staff, as well as give back to the community. A key element to her business, she says, is supporting local charities that benefit children. 

Source: Tamara Douglas, Kids Fashion Jungle
Writer: Natalie Burg

Dexter artist opens art, gardening, & design hub with 3.5-acre Bloom!

To say that the former Sloan's Nursery and Dexter Gardens has reopened under new ownership doesn't quite cover it. The new Bloom! Garden Center and Elemental Design on Baker Rd. in Dexter is a nursery, garden boutique, art gallery and hub of landscaping and design-related businesses. 
"[Owner Traven Pelletier] wanted to have a place where a lot of people could explore their passion and work collectively," says Gretchen Warner of Bloom!
The eight-person office staff of Bloom! and Elemental Design is housed in a 1,600 square-foot space in a renovated historic barn on the 3.5 acre property. The innovative space also includes a 2,000 square-foot retail shop and a 700 square-foot art gallery. 
"The gallery space is very neat because you can see up to the ceiling," says Warner. "We currently have four artists exhibiting and they're all local."
The businesses owned by Pelletier are joined by Poseidon Ponds & Landscaping and Serge van der Voo Landscapes, companies that serve as collaborators with Bloom! and Elemental Design as well as offering expanded services to customers. 
Bloom! Garden Center opened in April just a few months after Pelletier took ownership of the property in January. After a tough month of weather, they celebrated their grand opening during the first weekend of May with sunshine and an outpouring of community support. Bloom! features locally-sourced flowers, trees and shrubs, and offers free gardening workshops.
In addition to office staff, Bloom! employs three project supervisors and seasonal work crews. Beginning this week, the business will host a booth from nearby White Lotus Farms offering fresh goat cheese, breads and produce. 

Source: Gretchen Warner, Bloom! Garden Center
Writer: Natalie Burg

Bits and Pizzas to bring unique Italian recipes to Dexter

Rob and Mindy D'Oria's forthcoming Bits and Pizzas restaurant in Dexter won't be anyone's run of the mill pizza place. From imported Italian tomatoes to longtime family meatball recipes, the D'Orias are planning to create a restaurant unlike any Dexter has seen before. 
"I'm from the east coast, so I'm kind of a pizza snob," says Rob D'Oria. "We've spent the better part of the last ten years thinking about the food and testing out recipes."
Patrons will get their chance to try out those recipes around mid-June. D'Oria hopes to have work completed on the downtown Dexter space and a staff of about 20 in place by that point to make and serve the New York-style pizza and other specialty Italian foods. 
The recipes aren't the only aspect of Bits and Pizzas that have been carefully crafted for some time. The 5,000 square-foot building on Main St. in Dexter has been under redevelopment for about a year. 
"The building is almost 150 years old," says D'Oria. "It's pretty well configured from a layout standpoint, and it will give us room to grow."
In addition to updating the infrastructure of the historic building, the D'Orias are building a patio from the rear of the building that will hold out outdoor seating. Eventually, Bits and Pizzas will expand seating into the second floor, including a full bar. 
D'Oria says he's not cutting any corners to make Bits and Pizzas a truly unique place. They'll source their ingredients from local and specialty sources and be making everything – including their own Italian sausage – in house. 

Source: Rob D'Oria, Bits and Pizzas
Writer: Natalie Burg
99 Dexter Articles | Page: | Show All
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