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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arbor Hills Crossing gets Real Irish store

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Stuart Marley, Real Irish
Writer: Natalie Burg

New, 25-unit condo development planned for Kerrytown

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Tom Fitzsimmons, Huron Contracting
Writer: Natalie Burg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dixson Agency is a new player in Ann Arbor insurance scene

After a decade working in insurance repair, Mark Dixson says he understands a side of the insurance business many agents haven't experienced firsthand: clients who are not properly covered. Now that he's an agent himself, and opening his first Ann Arbor office, he says that is a quality that sets him apart. 

"I've dealt with so many clients in the past who were under-insured. I wanted to think about those clients and bring the the kind of policy they need," says Dixson, whose The Dixson Agency is slated to open by the end of December. "When a client is paying a premium, they want to make sure all of their property is covered."

Often, he says, people don't realize until after a flood or sewage break that they didn't have the coverage they thought they had. That is something he hopes to address when opening his office, which is tentatively planned for a 500 square foot space in South State Street Commons. 

"We're here to stay in the Ann Arbor area, and we're bringing some value for clients," Dixson say "We're just happy to be in Ann Arbor."

The Dixson Agency has been operating for about a year from a location in Canton. Dixson plans to hire two staff members to help operate his new Ann Arbor office. 

Source: Mark Dixson, The Dixson Agency
Writer: Natalie Burg

Yeo & Yeo more than doubles staff, expands into new, 10,000 sq ft location

The Ann Arbor branch of Saginaw-based accounting, audit, tax and business consulting firm Yeo & Yeo is now the company's second largest with about 25 employees and a brand new office that is 2.5 times the size of their original location. 

"We are outgrowing our previous location," says Kimberlee Kelley, director of marketing for Yeo & Yeo. "Last year we merged with a firm in Southgate, Hungerford & Co. We wanted to bring some staff from that office into one office so we could make a stronger foundation of resources for our clients." 

Between the merger with the Southgate company and their own growth, the Ann Arbor staff has more than doubled in size over the past year, even as some Southgate employees remained in a satellite office in the metro Detroit office. Such growth attracted the firm to a 10,000 square foot space less than a mile from their former location on E. Eisenhower. 

"It's not too far from our current office, so it's convenient for our clients," Kelley says. "We're happy to be able to grow and expand in the Ann Arbor area. It's been an ideal location for us."

Construction began on the new space in July and included a complete remodel of the office. The firm moved in on Oct. 31. 

Source: Kimberlee Kelley, Yeo & Yeo
Writer: Natalie Burg

B Young B Fit expands into 4,200 sq. ft location

Ann Arbor native and personal trainer Brian Young's B Young B Fit began in a 900-square foot location in 2006 and has been beefing up ever since. In 2010, the member-focused gym grew into a 3,500 square foot location in Glencoe Crossings, and then continued its growth this year by moving to a 4,200 square foot space on Washtenaw Ave. 

"This new studio is designed with field turf, state of the art equipment, a private yoga studio and all the necessary tools for us to train everyone from the elite athlete to the beginner fitness enthusiast.

A former Snap Fitness, the space was ideally suited to BYBF's needs. It also includes outdoor studio space for boot camp classes and other training classes. The BYBF concept is intended focus on personalized fitness and individual progress. In addition to serving individual members, BYBF also works with local businesses on their corporate wellness programs, an initiative Young plans to expand upon in his new space. 

"We also are growing our Sports Performance programs to work with local high schools for boys and girls in sports," he says. "This is a big passion of mine working directly with athletes as I was once in their shoes."

Source: Brian Young, B Young B Fit
Writer: Natalie Burg

New State St. Area men's barber spa aims for December opening

If men in Ann Arbor's State Street Area start looking a little more dapper in 2015, there's a reason why. Toronto-based men's barber spa Taylor & Colt is bringing its grooming services south of the border, and Ann Arbor will host its first U.S. location. 

"We’re beginning to see men have an appreciation for the precise grooming techniques of their fathers and grandfathers," says Taylor & Colt's Birdie White. "We also want men to enjoy taking a bit of time for themselves in a space exclusively designed for them, rather than in a salon designed for women."

White says Ann Arbor was chosen as the first U.S. Taylor & Colt for its unique, bustling downtown vibe. The shop's buildout is now underway in their 1,100 space on E. Liberty.

"The physical space will be completely renovated, right down to the studs. Ann Arbor will be our flagship location, so we didn’t hold back," says White. 

From here, Taylor & Colt plans to open a shop in Rochester Hills next year, followed by Birmingham, Grand Rapids, Lansing and then on to other states. 

White hopes to finish renovations by mid-December and open in time for the holiday rush. They are currently hiring 7 to 8 barbers, as well as support staff and managers. 

Source: Birdie White, Taylor & Colt
Writer: Natalie Burg

DFCU eyes Carpenter Rd. location for new branch in 2015

Ann Arbor is Dearborn-based DFCU Financial's fastest growing market. To keep up, the credit union is looking at Pittsfield Twp. site to replace an existing branch with a larger location that offers more amenities. 

"It’s a high-traffic intersection, and therefore current and potential members will pass by this corner every day," says DFCU Financial CEO Mark Shobe of the new Carpenter Rd. site. "Its proximity to our current branch is an added bonus for an easy transition for our membership."

The proposed branch would be built in place of the now vacant Great Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Carpenter. The one-acre property would include a new 4,600 square foot branch, drive up window and ATM, and include services "to fit our brand promise," says Shobe. 

DFCU Financial hopes to move forward with the multi-million dollar project in mid- to late-summer next year. Seven to nine full-time employees are expected to work in the new location. 

Source: Mark Shobe, DFCU Financial
Writer: Natalie Burg

Neighborhood oriented Bake Me Crazy brings cookies and pizza to E. Madison

If there's such thing as the perfect resumé for a pizza and cookie bakery entrepreneur, Harold Solomon has it. He began his career working for a French bakery before spending a decade in research and development for Dominos, working for and being a franchisee for Cottage Inn and then bringing the Insomnia Cookie truck to town. Now, he's shed those big business names and has opened his very own twist on all of it: Bake Me Crazy on E. Madison. 

"I liked the Insomnia Cookie concept, but I'm a pizza guy," Solomon says. "We're, in effect, complicating their business model with other items we think people would like delivered." 

Though the menu is still under development, that will include pastries, shakes, lunches, breakfast sandwiches, and, of course, pizza. Both with his full pizzas and the pizza by the slice he sells now, he plans to follow through on the "crazy" part of his company name with such pies as pot roast pizza, spaghetti and meatball pizza, Asian fusion pizza and more. 

Solomon's experience in the food industry has taught him the importance of a good, long slow opening, during which he can perfect his menu and get everything up to snuff. He's been quietly serving to residents and workers in his neighborhood for a couple of months now, but is looking forward to a big roll out soon. 

"We're almost there now, at the final menu stage" he says. "I'm thinking a couple of weeks." 

Bake Me Crazy currently employs a staff of four in the 900 square foot location near the corner of Main and Madison. As his delivery services and grand opening gets underway, Solomon estimates he'll employ between 10 and 20 workers. 

Source: Harold Solomon, Bake Me Crazy
Writer: Natalie Burg
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