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Dining / Food : Development News

138 Dining / Food Articles | Page: | Show All

Authentic Mexican comes to Packard St. with Mi Compadre

Nicolas Quintana knows the restaurant industry, and he knows Mexican food. The Mexico native has been working in restaurants for the last 15 years since coming the United States, and now he, his nephew, and his longtime friend are bringing all of that experience to Mi Compadre, a new Mexican restaurant on Packard that promises only the freshest and most authentic of Mexican foods. 

"This is not Taco Bell. This is not Chi-Chi's," says Quintana. "We want people to know what real Mexican food is."

Among those authentic options will be such dishes as tlayudas, a pizza-like entree with a tortilla crust. All of their dishes will also focus on fresh ingredients and will be made from scratch to order. 

Mi Compadre has been in the works for about a year as Quintana and his partners have renovated about 90 percent of the former Ann Arbor Subs space. Updates have included everything from plumbing to new seating. Tables for 48 diners have been installed in the new restaurant. After all that hard work, Mi Compadre finally opened for business last week. 

"Eveyrthing has been very good so far," Quintana says. "We had people who come and say they like it because everything is made to order."

In addition to the owners, Mi Compadre employs a staff of four. 

Source: Nicolas Quintana, Mi Compadre
Writer: Natalie Burg

Mishigama Craft Brewing to add more variety to Ypsilanti's growing beer scene

After more than two decades with General Motors. David Roberts was looking for a new challenge. It just so happened that his daughter's father-in-law, a longtime craft beer brewer, was looking for the same thing at the same time. Their resulting project will soon take place in the form of Mishigama Craft Brewing in downtown Ypsilanti. 

"There is a lot of good beer made in the Ann Arbor/Ypsi area, and we hope to add to it," Roberts says. "There is a market in Ypsi for this type of product." 

Mishigama Craft Brewing will feature a variety of craft beers, including wheat beers, ales and stouts. The goal is to eventually serve food as well, though the business may begin small with six to eight beers on tap. 

"I'm hoping people will come and find us, and hopefully they'll have a nice, enjoyable experience for people in downtown Ypsilanti," says Roberts. 

The 5,700 square foot location, part of which was a former Buffalo Wild Wings, is well-suited to Roberts' vision of a downtown brewery and restaurant with room for growth. He expects Mishigama Craft Brewing to seat between 100 and 125 customers. Initially, he anticipates hiring a brewery staff in the range of five to 10 workers. Once restaurant operations are underway, however, that number could range up to 40 employees. Roberts hopes to open Mishigama Craft Brewing late summer of 2015.

Source: David Roberts, Mishigama Craft Brewing
Writer: Natalie Burg

Popular Ann Arbor Indian restaurant Cardamom to expand

It wasn't long ago when, Binod Dhakal and his wife opened Cardamom Restaurant on Plymouth Rd. in Ann Arbor. Less than two years later, the popular place with the tagline "Fresh Indian" is expanding, allowing them to serve more customers more quickly. 

"The expansion area design will allow folks to wait for a table or carry out order comfortably, and grab a drink while they wait," says Dhakal. "It will also make the dining room more comfortable for seated guests because there won't be all the in and out traffic. And perhaps most importantly will be what you won't see: an expanded kitchen so we can produce more food."

The Courtyard Shops restaurant is currently 1,709 square feet, plus an adjacent outdoor patio. The closing of the Biggby Coffee shop next door is allowing them to expand into an additional 1,105 square feet.

"We knew after about two weeks in business that if we ever had the opportunity to expand we would need to grab it, so when this space came open next door we had to go for it," Dhakal says. "It's a risk since we've only been in business 20 months, but we have really great regular customers and we hope they will lend us their patience through this construction and transition."

Dhakal is waiting for his plans to be approved by the city, but should everything move forward as expected, he hopes to open for business in the new area sometime this summer. He anticipates remaining open as much as possible throughout construction. 

Dhakal anticipates growing his staff by eight to 10 workers after the expansion. In terms of future plans, he hopes to continue to grow and eventually add catering to Cardamom's offerings. 

Source: Binod Dhakal, Cardamom Restaurant
Writer: Natalie Burg

The Lunch Room to open second downtown Ann Arbor location next week

Just a few years ago, The Lunch Room was but a food cart. As of next week, the popular vegan eatery will be an established and growing restaurant chain with two downtown locations. 

"The Kerrytown location probably wasn't big enough from the first day we moved in there," says co-owner Joel Panozzo of The Lunch Room's first permanent location, which opened in 2013. "We've been making things work, but on a weekly basis, we'd say no to large catering orders and wedding cakes and one thing after another. So we've been trying to figure out how we could say yes."

The answer turned out to be a second location with a larger baking space. The new restaurant in Huron Towers on Fuller Ct. will include a 1,037-square foot dining room and adjoining kitchen large enough for the owners to expand their baking operations enough to cover both locations, catering and wholesale orders.

The new Lunch Room will feature grab-and-go options to cater to the student and hospital worker crowds buzzing around Huron Towers, while the Kerrytown location will continue to focus on made-to-order meals. Sit-down dining, however, will definitely still be available at the new restaurant, in addition to their deli case offerings. 

"With the sandwiches, we'll unwrap it and grill it to order," says Panozzo. "We'll play and experiment with how far we can take the grab-and-go concept."

Panozzo expects to begin with a soft opening of the new location over this weekend, with doors officially opening some day next week. He and co-owner Phillis Engelbert plan to employ about 15 part- and full-time workers at the new restaurant.

Source: Joel Panozzo, The Lunch Room
Writer: Natalie Burg

Maize and Blue Deli plans second location on Main and Liberty

Fans of S. University's Maize and Blue Deli will have something new to cheer about on Main Street this spring. Coming in early March will be the longtime restaurant's second location on the other end of downtown. 

"We were trying to expand and we thought it was a great marketing opportunity to be right on Main Street," says Maize and Blue Deli's Hamsah Sukkar. "Honestly, it doesn't get better than Main and Liberty."

Work on the 1,600 square foot space has already begun. As the restaurant owners are starting with a completely empty space, there's much to do to transform a portion of the building once occupied by the Selo/Shevel Gallery into a deli. 

According to Sukkar, the deli will be very similar in both look and menu to the original Maize and Blue Deli location. He hopes the appeal of the locally-owned eatery will be as strong on Main Street as it has been on S. University.

"I'm a local, Ann Arbor resident trying to expand in my city, and hopefully we'll get some businesses supporting us," he says. "We're not a big franchise, so we're hoping to see a lot of local interest."

The new deli will seat between 50 and 55 diners and Sukkar estimates he will initially employ between five and 10 workers at the new restaurant. 

Source: Hamzah Sukkar, Maize and Blue Deli
Writer: Natalie Burg

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
138 Dining / Food Articles | Page: | Show All
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