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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

Dan's Downtown Tavern expands in Saline

Four years after the Saline bar and restaurant's last expansion, Dan's Downtown Tavern is growing again with the addition of a 900-square foot space that came available next door. As owner Dan Kolander owns the building, the turnover made for a smooth transition at the right time.  

"We have the space to use, so we might as well use it. We've been having to turn people away," Kolander says. "I think it's because we keep our prices fair and our food is good. The non-smoking thing made it more family-friendly, so that helped."

The addition will bring Dan's Downtown Tavern to a total size of about 3,900 square feet and will add capacity for about 70, though initially they'll begin with about 40 more seats. Currently, Kolander plans to use the space as overflow and for special events. In the future, he imagines installing a bar and creating a single malt scotch bar. 

"That wont' happen until after the first of of the year," says Kolander. "I want to make sure people can use it for holiday parties first."

Renovations were minimal, as connecting the spaces was as easy as uncovering former passageway. Kolander planned to open the new space last week, and expects to hire up to two new staff members with the expansion.

Source: Dan Kolander, Dan's Downtown Tavern
Writer: Natalie Burg

Train-themed restaurant opens in downtown Milan

Melissa and Golaik Mahmutaj's son Brooklyn has always loved trains, and the couple has long wanted to start their own restaurant. When a commercial space right next to the railroad tracks became available in Milan, everything just clicked. 

"It seemed like a great place to lay down our tracks," says Melissa Mahmutaj. "We just love it."

Brooklyn's Sidetrack opened on Nov. 4 with a train theme that encompasses everything from the decor to the menu. The diner-style restaurant offers such dishes as the Trainmaster Breakfast and the Railbender from breakfast through dinner. Though the 1800s building required significant renovations, the husband-and-wife team brought the restaurant to life primarily with their own elbow grease. 

"I had a vision," Mahmutaj says. "My mother watched our kids for us so we could get as much as we could done. We pulled a lot of days where we just drank coffee and stayed as late as we could."

Brooklyn's Sidetrack seats about 100 diners and employs a staff of about 13 local workers. Mahmutaj says the reaction from the community has been positive, and they're working to evolve their business along with the suggestions of their customers. 

Source: Melissa Mahmutaj, Brooklyn's Sidetrack
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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Blaisdell. 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

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

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
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